According to Night, by Elie Wiesel, what was life like in the Sighet ghetto?

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belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Night is the first part of Elie Wiesel's personal account of his experiences in the Holocaust during World War II, and the losses he faced while trying to survive as a child.

Before his family was taken away on the cattle cars to the concentration camps, Elie lived in the Sighet Ghetto in Hungary, where restrictions on Judaism were becoming more and more severe. Elie is a very pious boy and studies the Talmud, desiring to become a Kabbalist, but as the War progresses, he is forced to see reality as opposed to mystical study. The ghetto becomes a prison instead of a haven; Jews are not allowed to attend religious services, go to public establishments, and are under curfew (Wikipedia). The yellow star, identifying Jews from Non-Jews, is already in place. Although the ghetto is allowed to form a council for day-to-day government, their power is in name only. The Jews living in the ghettos believe that they are safe, and for a while they live in a small, self-contained environment, until the ghettos are closed and all the Jews rounded up and placed in cattle cars. The safety of the ghettos, and the safety of living in a Jewish environment, was all an illusion, and Elie's faith is slowly broken as he travels to the concentration camps.

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Before Elie and the other Jews living in Sighet were taken away to concentration camps, two ghettos were created in his hometown. There was one large ghetto in the center of the community and a smaller one that extended to the outskirts of town. Despite the fact that the Jewish citizens had lost many of their freedoms, Elie mentions that life seemed to return to normal. They were able to live with their relatives in the ghettos, and the barbed wire fences that surrounded their homes did not intimidate them. The citizens began to organize themselves and even created a Jewish Council. Elie mentions that the citizens were happy and relieved to live among other Jews. Unfortunately, the Jewish citizens were eventually forced to leave the Sighet ghettos and were taken to concentration camps. 

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