Today, Holocaust survivor, author, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel, passed away at the age of 87.
To most Americans who went through the public school system, his name is synonymous with Night, Wiesel’s iconic 1960 account of his struggles at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. That, however, is not what I remember him from.
I first saw him speak in 2007 when I was a freshman at Boston University, where he was a Professor Emeritus at the time. That Tuesday morning, he lectured on the book of Job. Not knowing what a privilege it actually was, I didn’t keep any notes from that morning.
Thankfully, he extended that talk into a trilogy of lectures in October 2009. The Quad, an independent online magazine at BU, reports:
Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust and a renowned author, has lectured on the story of Job before but he said he returns to it because it is timeless and timely and “like a fairytale for adults.”
He said that Job’s story is far-reaching because it could have taken place anywhere and everywhere…
Among these dilemmas, are the struggles of indifference and silence, he said. “Silence helps the victimizer, never the victim,” Wiesel said. He also said that anything is preferable to indifference.[^1]
Despite Job’s wretched tribulations, this adult fairy tale has a happy ending, Wiesel said. Just as starting over is an “essential component in Jewish history”, it is also how the story of Job ends, he said.
“It is a story not of beginnings, but of beginning again,” said Wiesel.
Rest in peace.