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Learning Alongside His Students

Literary Craftsman Previous Speaking Out for Persecuted People Next

Teaching was a central focus of Elie Wiesel's life. He taught many hundreds of students over the years who benefited not only from his knowledge, but from his generosity of spirit. He began teaching Judaic studies at the City University of New York in the 1970s, and later taught at Boston University for more than four decades. 

Wiesel taught a variety of courses but rarely one specifically on the Holocaust. Every course bore the general title “The Literature of Memory” and drew on the Hebrew Bible, Hasidic tales, as well as classic and modern literature. However, each semester he changed the specific focus of the course and the required reading list, continually learning alongside his students.

Wiesel prioritized his time in the classroom, often arranging international travel so it would not interfere with his teaching schedule. Wiesel’s students appreciated the attention and respect that he gave them, as well as the knowledge and insights he imparted. 

In addition to his classroom teaching, Wiesel educated many people at public lectures in a variety of locations. He became a prominent teacher of Judaism through his lectures, writing, and academic work.

“What I try to give to my students is my passion, that they should share that passion, the passion for learning. Learning has never hurt people. People who believe in learning don’t hate one another.”

—Elie Wiesel, as quoted in Winter 2006–2007 issue of Bostonia, the Boston University alumni magazine