Class of 2020: The Madness of Hope,
the Hope of Madness

This short documentary film is a collaboration between professional filmmaker Ryan Ferguson and five 8th grade student filmmakers from Chicago's Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School as part of a year-long, multi-disciplinary project around the life, work and teachings of Elie Wiesel.
Along with students and staff of Bernard Zell, the film features Rabbi Dr. Ariel Burger, a protege of Wiesel, author of Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel's Classroom, and founder of The Witness Institute. This project was made possible through funding by the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge and The Kronhill Pletka Foundation.
Memory will last a lifetime and beyond. Eighth-grade parents and students participated in the third annual parent/student book club.  What made the book club so extraordinary was the presence of our artist-in-residence, Dr. Ariel Burger. 
The focus of the book club concerned Elie Wiesel's memoir Night and the first chapter of Burger's book entitled Witness. Professor Burger served as Elie Wiesel's teaching assistant at Boston University for 26 years and was a life-long friend and confidant of Dr. Wiesel.
During the book club, students and their parents wrestled with difficult and complex questions about Night around the themes of memory, doubt and faith, bearing witness, and the limitations of language, while Dr. Burger went from table to table listening to the discussions. At the end of the evening, he presented an overview of the importance of Dr. Wiesel's life and its application to our students' lives.  The following morning he gave a talk to the parent community about Dr. Wiesel and his book and then opened it up to questions and answers. 
Following the lecture, he met with eighth-grade students in four one-hour sessions. The topics included an introduction to Hasidism and Wiesel's view of activism. Night and Day became a whirlwind of learning for the eighth-grade team, students, and parents alike. The message of Dr. Wiesel was transmitted to our children's generation, and hopefully, dor va dor.