Tag Archives: Night

Reading Wiesel as Protesters March Outside

I’m glad we’re talking about refugees, immigration, and what loving our neighbors means in practical terms. I hope all of this becomes perpetual opportunities for the gospel, the life-transforming gospel, not just some shell of good wishes.

On Sunday in New York, a large group met at the Jewish Heritage Museum to read from Elie Wiesel’s Night to remember the Holocaust at the same time other New Yorkers were protesting the US administration’s policies on immigrants from terror-watch countries.

“By the end of the [Rwandan] genocide I lost my entire immediate family, my parents, my siblings, most of my family members,” Jacqueline Murekatete told the audience. “As any child of that time, I witnessed a lot of horrors, people being killed around me and losing my family…but I was fortunate that I had an uncle that lived here [America].

She said Wiesel inspired her as a teenager. Night “became a catalyst for the genocide prevention work that I do now.”

There cannot be a 1:1 comparison between Holocaust or Rwandan genocide and what is happening in Syria and other countries. We live in a different world now. I could understand if President Trump were to say, “We are working very hard to provide safe passage to select Syrian communities who are being targeted and have nowhere to run, because frankly, people, we went over there and made a huge mess, a gigantic, stupid mess.” But that’s not his stance today for reasons that should be completely understandable to everyone. There are enemies among us.

But perhaps Wiesel would not agree. In his Nobel acceptance speech, he said,

Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.

Remembering Elie Wiesel

Residents of Cleveland, Ohio, remember Elie Wiesel as a big-hearted author who wanted to teach and support them like neighbors.

Back in 1966, Wiesel himself remembers friends from his youth. “Today,” he says, “I know that the advice of our wise men — ‘acquire for yourself a friend’ — is ironic. There is nothing with which to acquire them. Nothing any more. Our generation suffers a poverty of dreams.”

Frances Coleman read Elie Wiesel’s Night within the past week, saying it is the best and hardest book she’s ever read.

In the sense that Wiesel’s evocative “deposition,” as he later termed it, shook me to my soul, then “Night” is the best book I’ve ever read; and in the sense that it reminds readers how utterly base we humans can be, it is the most punishing. Reading “Night” at night is punishing, too, because after you finish reading, you are left to lie awake in the dark, wondering if you could have survived such an ordeal.