Eighth grade students in Jenny Ohana's class had the tremendous honor of corresponding with Elisha Wiesel, son of Elie Wiesel. Having completed the memoir Night, students then read Elisha Wiesel's Yom Hashoah speech given at the March of the Living. Their responses were so powerful and articulate that I wanted to share them with Mr. Wiesel when I learned that we had someone who could facilitate the interaction. Mr. Wiesel responded immediately with such powerful and inspiring words for the students. Please read the entire exchange by clicking here. May we all carry on Elie Wiesel's mission to never forget, and never stay silent.
Letter to students from Elisha Weisel & student responses to his March of the Living speech:
Dear Jennifer, Danielle, and all the students of the 8th grade class at RASG Hebrew Academy,
It was such a gift to read your letters and to know that the future of the Jewish people is in such good hands with your generation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.
My father strongly believed that there was no contradiction between the particular and the universal: being a good Jew isn’t a choice between keeping our own ways intact and engaging with the outside world. Being a good Jew means both. Your collective writings resounded with this core idea.
There is much work ahead for all of us in these difficult times but I know you are proud of who you are and where you come from - and I know my father would be proud of you as well. I certainly am proud to now have a connection with you, and cannot wait to see where you are going.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom from NYC,
Alexa SzafranskiApr 26
Elisha Wiesel's speech was very powerful and moving. Similar to how his father did, he expresses his feelings through writing, which tempts us to take action. Even with all the memorials of the Holocaust, tragedies like this can happen again. He is attempting to inspire us to stay with our religion, and to inspire others too. He also used other examples, not relating to the Jewish people. This teaches us not to be apathetic like all the German people were. We must not stand idly by an injustice just because it does not affect us or our loved ones. We must stand up for what is right and keep these traditions alive. That is what Elie Wiesel would have wanted, and it is what his son wants too.
Shirel BaranesApr 26
The words inspirational and powerful don't even begin to explain Elisha Wiesel's speech. Elisha pointed out many ideas his father descried in his memoir, Night. One of the main points he elaborated on was people being apathetic. We can not stand by and watch the horrible things that are going on. We have to take a stand and do what is right; if we don't, something just as bad as the Holocaust could occur again. It may not affect us or our family at the moment, but it can impact so many other people. We should do everything we can to prevent those people in suffering. If Elie Wiesel's memoir could not motivate people enough, Elisha is trying to pass along the same message and we could all help him with his mission by remembering what happened and never letting it happen again.
Esther NahonApr 26
As he speaks beyond the death and cruelty that took place during the times of the Holocaust, Elisha Wiesel deliberately admits to very similar scenarios occurring in today's societies. However, instead of dwelling on the various horrific tragedies that the Holocaust had to offer, I was extremely moved by his attempts to ask and challenge us with what we would do about it. His repeated word, "witness" did not only apply to his father's witnessing of the millions of deaths in 1944. However, it's fascinating to see how he applies this word to current, global issues, as well as associating it with positive situations alongside negative ones. He forces us to ask ourselves a question; will we remain apathetic and merely witness today's repetitions of history? However, he also asks if we will continue to carry through the practices of Judaism in order for the religion to stay alive. Through his many examples, and his eloquent speech, Elisha allowed the impact that the Holocaust had on his family to resonate with us by comparing it to modern day atrocities. However, even through this, we are still only entitled to the slightest glimpse of the severe circumstances that were endured during the Holocaust. Overall, I believe Elisha's message to be clear and most powerful for it is in our hands, and it is up to us to decide what our fate will be. It is our responsibility to choose if we will let the mistakes of our history repeat themselves today, but more importantly--how will we respond towards those issues?
Daniel Gould AyalaApr 26
Listening to this video I began to truly wonder "what made human beings, so cruel to other human beings?" These words are powerful. Seeing all of this makes me believe that people may have not learned. History is doomed to repeat itself, even when it is known. Listening to these words forced me to rethink many things, as well as look at the world at a different angle. The words "Never Again" are much more powerful than they are made out to be.
Daniel Ohana12:10 PM
I found this speech to be a very moving and emotional one. When Elisha Wiesel speaks about his father at the Pesah Seder, reading as if he were redeemed from Egypt himself, I feel very inspired and yet very upset. Elie Wiesel had to endure and witness such atrocities that one cannot even fathom, and had to read about very similar acts being done in ancient Egypt. This itself can show us that we, the Jewish people, will live on and that no nation will ever destroy us. In every single generation, there are oppressors of the Jewish people. These oppressors try to destroy the Jewish nation, but never succeed. Am Israel Hai!