Author series comes to URI Jan. 29


Behind the Book comes to URI on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m., when author Ariel Burger discusses his book “Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom,” a testament to the way Wiesel shaped the thoughts and principles of a generation.

The book grants insights into the influences behind Wiesel’s own beliefs. Burger entreats readers to remember that Wiesel sought to spur people to act; that it is not enough to just be mindful of the existence of good and evil.

A central question of “Witness” is whether the experience of being a witness can be transferred to another person. Wiesel claimed it could: “Listening to a witness makes you a witness.” But this complex book asks many more questions, such as: What does it mean to be a teacher? What does it mean to be a student? How can you lead a moral life? Like Wiesel, Burger combines stories and questions in his writing.

Burger is a writer, teacher and rabbi whose work combines spirituality, creativity, and strategies for social change. A lifelong student of Wiesel, Burger now applies those teachings to urgent contemporary questions. URI Hillel Director Amy Olson said, “Dr. Burger is a compelling speaker for the times in which we live. We were particularly inspired by Dr. Burger’s website, which states “At a moment when the loss of civility is eroding human connection, I draw on my teachers’ lives and wisdom to help promote civility and kindness.”

This event, co-sponsored by the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, takes place during the week of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It  is made possible by a partnership with URI Hillel and these organizations: College of Arts and Sciences, Health Services, Women’s Center, Gender and Sexuality Center, Multicultural Student Services Center, Chaplains Association, Office of the Provost, Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, Kappa Delta Pi: International Honor Society in Education, Psychology Department, Housing and Residential Life, Office of Community, Equity, and Diversity, along with Congregation Beth David.

For more information, or to RSVP, go to