In 1975,

Forward Magazine - - Opinion - — Chana Pol­lack

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.

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