December 2018 Indie Next List
“Elie Wiesel — witness, writer, and humanitarian — wanted to be remembered foremost as a teacher. Ariel Burger, a longtime student, teaching assistant, and friend, has given us an intimate and moving portrait of this extraordinary man and the profound lessons he had to share.”
— Dale Szczeblowski, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
In the vein of Tuesdays with Morrie, a devoted student and friend of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel invites readers to witness one of the world's greatest thinkers in his own classroom in this instructive and deeply moving read, a National Jewish Book Award–winner. The world remembers Elie Wiesel (1928–2016) as a Nobel laureate, activist, and author of more than forty books, including Oprah’s Book Club selection Night. Ariel Burger met Wiesel when he was a teenage student, eager to learn Wiesel's life lessons. Witness chronicles the intimate conversations between these two men as Burger sought Wiesel's counsel on matters of intellect, faith, and survival while navigating his own personal journey from boyhood to manhood, from student and assistant to rabbi and teacher. In this thought-provoking account, Burger brings the spirit of Wiesel’s classroom to life, where the art of storytelling and the act of listening conspire to make witnesses of us all—as it does for readers of this inspiring book as well.
About the Author
ARIEL BURGER is a teacher, writer, and artist whose work focuses on education, spirituality, the arts, and strategies for social change. An ordained rabbi, Ariel received his PhD in Jewish Studies and Conflict Resolution under Elie Wiesel. A lifelong student of Professor Wiesel, Ariel served as his Teaching Fellow from 2003-2008, after which he designed educational initiatives at several nonprofits. Ariel travels the world lecturing and serving as a scholar/artist-in-residence, facilitating workshops for educators and leaders, and consulting to creative organizations. When Ariel's not learning or teaching, he is creating music, art, and poetry. He lives outside of Boston with his family.
Winner of the National Jewish Book Award—Biography An Indie Next List Pick A Publishers Lunch Buzz Book "A beautiful, deeply moving memoir...[a] complex, multilayered book...Burger’s honest depiction of doubt — both Wiesel’s and his own — is a great strength of this memoir, and its constant concern with the limited power of the individual is timeless. While Wiesel privately worried about the power of one person’s words in the face of hatred, this book of questions and memories makes a case for the power of teaching, and for words as perhaps the ultimate teachers of how to live." —Chicago Tribune "Burger transports the reader to those salons of learning on the Charles River, where Wiesel's students over the years ranged from the granddaughter of a Nazi SS officer to a Korean minister in training...Unlike the best-selling 'Tuesdays with Morrie' – which highlighted author Mitch Albom's relationship with another Boston-area professor – Burger's book has a protagonist who was already world-famous. Witness does have a Wednesdays-with-Wiesel feel. Burger intersperses bits of his own life and background as he shares an album's worth of snapshots from Wiesel's time at BU. Burger's tone and execution are exactly what his title promises – and in keeping with the way Wiesel lived his life." —USA Today, "New book shares Elie Wiesel's powerful classroom lessons from the Holocaust" "Any reader of Witness can now become another student of Wiesel’s, and another witness, as it is clear that Ariel Burger has become a teacher with its publication." —Tablet Magazine "Inspiring and substantive...Amid all the Wiesel wisdom, Burger interweaves bits of his own autobiography, including his childhood and an account of the years he spent in Israel before his doctoral studies. Neither irrelevant nor self-indulgent, these strolls into memoir help establish Burger as a trustworthy and likable guide, a fellow learner who has invited us to sit next to him as we absorb hard-won knowledge about the shape of a good life from a sage. An insightful and winsome love letter—and, for newcomers to Wiesel, a good introduction." —Kirkus Reviews "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...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." —Publishers Weekly "A student of Wiesel's, Burger recounts how Wiesel lit his mind on fire. He later became Wiesel's teaching assistant and colleague, and this book parts the curtain on Wiesel's stimulating and lively classes, which challenged students...Readers will find their own preconceptions called into question, as though they were in class, too." —Booklist “Burger, a compassionate heart, fiery soul, and sharp religious mind in his own right, presents a personal side of Wiesel that we normally didn’t see. This is the humane Wiesel, the Wiesel who nurtured students and who shook the foundations to demand mo —