Describe Wiesel's community at the beginning of Night. How does young Elie view the world and his place in it?
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Elie Wiesel lived in the Jewish community within the town of Sighet, Hungary. It was not a completely closed community, as there was some interaction with the non-Jewish residents of Sighet, especially since Elie's father was a recognized leader among the Jews but also had contacts with "the upper levels of the Hungarian police." For Elie, however, the world revolved around his studies, the synagogue, his parents' shop, and the Jewish mysticism he studied with Moishe the Beadle. His desire to delve more deeply into the Jewish faith was at odds with his father's directions that he needed to spend more time with "the basic subjects" of the world and his faith, but Elie persisted and felt himself learning and growing as he did so.
Within that circle of influence, Elie and the others felt secure, isolated by distance from the rising threat of the Nazis in Germany and protected by the passage of time. As 1941 went by, then 1942 and 1943 and into 1944, the confidence grew. "Germany would be defeated. It was only a matter of time, months or weeks, perhaps."
Elie Wiesel was a Jew from Sighet, Hungary where he spent his childhood. Elie speaks of his townspeople regarding their attitude towards poor people and he states that although they help the poor they really don’t like them. This was with regard to Moishe the Beadle who was a poor foreign Jew; for Moishe to earn his place within the community he had to render himself insignificant. This comes out clearly when the Jews of Sighet disregard his warning because of his status within the community even after he escapes death at the hands of the Gestapo. Elie’s father was an esteemed member of the Jewish community in Sighet and highly sought after for advice on a variety of issues. Elie’s understanding of his place in the world was influenced by his need to achieve a higher understanding of his religion as seen in his interest in the Kaballah. The Jewish community is unperturbed by the imminent danger posed by the war even when warnings are delivered about the impeding destruction.
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