Every year the 8th-grade teachers at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School design year-long interdisciplinary projects for their students.
Through interdisciplinary projects, students come to understand that when the various disciplines which comprise the humanities are woven together, they form a richer and more complex tapestry than when viewed in isolation.
Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the first English translation of Night. To mark this anniversary, we have designed an interdisciplinary project based on the life, works and times of Elie Wiesel. If indeed we are "the people of the book," then it follows that it is through text that our students will develop a deeper and more abiding connection to Judaism. The writings of Elie Wiesel provide the perfect vehicle for that connection because though Wiesel’s works have universal appeal, they are grounded in a particular set of knowledge, namely Jewish thought.
To identify the core Wiesel texts and then unravel the Jewish sources, which illuminate those texts, would be an epic task unto itself but we have found our guide in Dr. Ariel Burger, award-winning author and close confident of Wiesel, who will serve as our artist-in-residence for the entire year.
To envision this project is to think about two sets of spiraling circles. In one case, the circles move outward from Dr. Wiesel to our faculty, students, parents and then to the larger community. But there is another set of concentric circles moving from Dr. Wiesel inward into the Jewish heart and soul of our faculty, students, parents and then to the larger community.
Our students may never become actors on the world stage, like Dr. Wiesel, but through texts and this project, we will pose the most important question: how can they become moral agents of change in a world fraught with disarray and chaos?