Elie Wiesel's father, named Chlomo, is a businessman who owns a grocery store. He is highly respected by the community and is portrayed by Wiesel as a progressive Jew, religious but open to outside influences and customs. He made sure, for example, that his son studied modern Hebrew, so that he could read modern works in addition to older Jewish texts. While he is described as a "cultured, rather unsentimental man … more concerned with others than with his own family" early in the book, he devotes himself to keeping his son alive. Thus one of the most horrifying moments in the book is when Elie is forced to helplessly listen to his dying groans, which only ended when he was beaten by a guard.
Elie's father is a central figure in the book, as Elie travels with him on a road of suffering. Most of the book is about their plight, but the opening chapter does mention what their life was like before the arrival of the Nazis.
According to chapter one, Elie's father, Shlomo, owned a store. Not much is said about it. The only detail that is added is that Hilda and Bea, his sister, helped out in the store.
However, what is mentioned is that Elie's father was an unsentimental man. He was also, for the most part, unexpressive. He was also more concerned with the wellbeing of the people of his town than his own family. Finally, he was a respected person in the town. People came to him for advice and counsel. Here is the text:
My father was a cultured man, rather unsentimental. He rarely displayed his feelings, not even within his family, and was more involved with the welfare of others than with that of his own kin. The Jewish community of Sighet held him in highest esteem; his advice on public and even private matters was frequently sought. There were four of us children. Hilda, the eldest; then Bea; I was the third and the only son; Tzipora was the youngest.