Simon Weber, editor-in-chief of the Forverts and then host of the Sunday afternoon radio program “Interviews With Jewish Personalities,” invited his former staff writer, Elie Wiesel, to appear on the show. The pair started off by bantering about their unbroken, nearly 20-yearlong friendship. Wiesel reminisced that Weber had helped him from his very first moments in America in 1956, when Weber served as the paper’s news editor. According to Weber’s daughter, Lillian Silver, Weber sponsored Wiesel, enabling him to become a naturalized American citizen. “Some things in life exist on a higher plane,” Wiesel said that Sunday, on the air. “Friendship is one of those things.”
The Forverts frequently dispatched its star writer to travel the world. In the following essay, which Wiesel wrote in 1957, he introduces readers to some memorable characters he met during his postHolocaust wanderings. We learn, for instance, of an Indian Yogi committed to his practice of holding a seated pose as a means of deepening a sense of belonging. This in turn triggers Wiesel to take measure of his wanderlust. He tells us of the nervous thrill he gets from the telegram sent by his editor (then Hillel Rogoff) arriving with the words “Get going.”
“We had our difficulties. There were days filled with worry and hardships for both of us,” Wiesel reminded Weber in 1975. “But we mitigated them in our own ways. There was no further discussion. Such unwavering fellowship is one of the true pleasures in life. My writing has to do with the fact that man is alone. How is he meant to relieve that isolation?”
And so here, in the edited essay that follows, Wiesel journeys with him, as do we, as he takes a broad leap of faith into the nature of his own persistent loneliness. He allows the stillness of the Yogi to call up in him the pleasures and mysteries of friendships past in his early days of liberation in France. Along the way, in this particular essay seemingly devoted to travel, Wiesel manages to embrace the spirit of his own stillness.