After hearing my sophomores refer to people as Jewish, I decided to add the book, Night to my curriculum. It is a short book with a powerful punch. Elie is a young man with normal teenage problems. His parents are planning his sister's wedding, and his little sister is just another little girl who is loved and treasured. Elie is close to his father, and respects him, dearly.
In 1944, his life and that of his family and town were about to change. The town is warned of the coming invasion of the Germans. A friend of Elie's named Moshe the Beedle tells of atrocities he has seen. No one believes him because this is 1944. The Germans come to town as friends and hungry young soldiers. They are welcomed and fed. The Germans tell of a meeting whereby everything will be explained. They meet in a building, but at the end of the meeting, they come out to find fences up, and their prison is in place.
I was impressed at how easy it was for the Germans to take over this town. Elie and his father were separated from his sisters and mothers who die in the camps. Elie takes care of his father as much as he can, but in the end . . . Well that's for you to read.
What I liked most about the book is how Mr. Weisel tells of atrocities without gory details. For example suffice it to say, he smelled burning flesh. I don't need to know more. He spares you such details while making you feel his anger, hatred, and self-loathing. It's a must read, and a short read, but one that should be required reading.
Most of my students had a new outlook on what the Jewish people suffered. Some unfortunately continue to make tacky jokes, but my students didn't laugh anymore at these couple of students who thought they were being funny.
Night is on Oprah Winfrey's recommended reading, and it is on mine. Mr. Weisel also won the Nobel Peace Prize.