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Elie Wiesel: Confronting the Silence

Hosted By: American Jewish University

As an orphaned survivor and witness to Auschwitz, Elie Wiesel (1928–2016) became a torchbearer for victims and survivors of the Holocaust at a time when the world preferred to forget. How did this frail, soft-spoken man from a small village in the Carpathians become such an influential presence on the world stage? Using Wiesel’s writings and interviews with his family, close friends, scholars, and critics, Joseph Berger presents Wiesel as both revered Nobel laureate and man of complex psychological texture and contradictions.

Joseph Berger and AJU’s Michael Berenbaum will explore the entirety of Wiesel’s life from his Hasidic childhood through his final years, including his postwar years as a teenage orphan in France, his transformation into a Parisian intellectual, his hungry years scraping together a living in America as a working journalist, and his emergence as a spokesperson for Holocaust survivors. Through this fully realized portrait, we see how this teenage survivor from a Hasidic family became the eloquent embodiment of Holocaust remembrance and of forceful opposition to indifference.

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