Elie Wiesel’s short, eloquent letter offered support and perspective to a young writer desperately in need of both. On the occasion of what would have been Wiesel’s 88th birthday, Rachel Kadish explains.
Possibly, he could have been a rabbi; possibly, Albert Einstein could have accepted the invitation to be the president of Israel; possibly, Stalin could have been a yoga instructor, and Marilyn Monroe could have been an actuary; but it seemed far more likely to him that people pretty much did what they were good at and avoided that which they had no business doing… which is what he found himself thinking as he mounted the steps to the bima to address a congregation in a synagogue he’d never set foot in, on a holiday whose name he wasn’t sure how to pronounce.
The decision to send the three of us kids to the Solomon Schechter School was, I’m told, a difficult one. My mother, who is a daughter of Holocaust refugees and a staunch Zionist, pushed for us to attend. My father, who came from a more typical American Jewish background, worried that we’d emerge from such an education glassy-eyed, alien to him.