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Poster Commentary
"The opposite of love is not hate. It's indifference."Elie Wiesel
Poster design:Janice Fried


by Ariel Burger

For Elie Wiesel, indifference is the cardinal sin. We must care for others, even if they are on the other side of the world, even if they are strangers. “Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

How do we fight indifference, our own and others’? Wiesel taught that we do this through memory. By remembering the past, we learn its lessons, become sensitized, and can no longer look away when other people need our help.

But if anyone would be justified in wanting to forget the past, it’s someone like Elie Wiesel. Born in a small town in Romania called Sighet, Wiesel was a teenager when the Nazis invaded his country. His family was sent to the ghetto and then to the concentration camps of Auschwitz (where his mother and sister were murdered) and Buchenwald (where his father died). Still, through the horrors of those years, he saw Jewish victims demanding not to be forgotten – Jews hiding in bunkers who scratched their names into the walls and wrote invisible messages in urine, or who buried manuscripts in tin cans under the ghetto streets so their words and lives might be remembered.

After the war, Wiesel wrote the book Night – a groundbreaking Holocaust memoir – and became a prolific writer, teacher, and activist. He dedicated his life to making sure that the events of his childhood would never be repeated – not just to Jews, but to anyone.

In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, Wiesel said, “If anything can, it is memory that will save humanity.” He then quoted a Talmudic saying aimed to safeguard against indifference: “If you save even a single life, it is as if you saved an entire world.”

Ariel Burger is a writer, artist, teacher, and rabbi whose work combines spirituality, creativity, and strategies for social change. He was Elie Wiesel’s teaching assistant at Boston University and is author of the book Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom.


Conversation Guide


  • What role does memory play in your Jewish life?
  • In what ways have you tried to overcome your own indifference? The indifference of others?
  • How did Wiesel affect the world? How does the poster express this?



Wall of Fame©2020, Janice Fried, Quote: Elie Wiesel, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, West Springfield, MA