In the vein of Tuesdays with Morrie, a devoted protégé and friend of one of the world’s great thinkers takes us into the sacred space of the classroom, showing Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel not only as an extraordinary human being, but as a master teacher.
“Witness is beautiful, and important . . . A superb piece of writing.” — Parker Palmer, best-selling author of The Courage to Teach
The world remembers Elie Wiesel—Nobel laureate, activist, and author of more than forty books, including Oprah’s Book Club selection Night—as a great humanist. He passed away in July 2016.
Ariel Burger first met Elie Wiesel at age fifteen. They studied together and taught together. Witness chronicles the intimate conversations between these two men over decades, as Burger sought counsel on matters of intellect, spirituality, and faith, while navigating his own personal journey from boyhood to manhood, from student and assistant to rabbi and, in time, teacher.
In this profoundly hopeful, thought-provoking, and inspiring book, Burger takes us into Elie Wiesel’s classroom, where the art of listening and storytelling conspire to keep memory alive. As Wiesel’s teaching assistant, Burger gives us a front-row seat witnessing these remarkable exchanges in and out of the classroom. The act of listening, of sharing these stories, makes of us, the readers, witnesses.
Burger, a teacher and rabbi, gives readers a glimpse into the wisdom of Elie Wiesel in this chronicle of his years as Wiesel's student and teaching assistant. Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, writer, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was also a skilled educator, as Burger's admiring account shows. The unpacking of Wiesel's teaching methods is the book's best contribution to Wiesel's legacy. Current, former, and future educators will love the glimpses into Wiesel's practices, such as the way he guided discussions on difficult but important topics the tensions between faith and doubt, the relationship between rebellion and madness, and effective strategies for activism and the personal attention he lavished on students. The book is weaker, however, when Burger tells his own story and when it rehashes elements of Wiesel's philosophy and wisdom that can be better found in Wiesel's own words in the many books he wrote. Still, Burger's love for Wiesel, both professional and personal, shines through, and the reader will walk away with renewed admiration for this remarkable scholar, writer, survivor, and teacher.