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Telling the Tale: A Tribute to Elie Wiesel on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday — Essays, Reflections, and Poems

edited by Harry James Cargas

Tell Me, Good Friends

(by Elie Wiesel)

Good friends,
What are we to do,
What are we to do
When the soul is so burdened?

A generation goes, a generation comes,
The times fly,
Shadows, in haste,
Run away.

We try to remember,
Memory overflows with grief.

Should we try to sing?
Broken is the violin.
The strings torn.

What are we to do,
My good friends,
What are we to do?

Each prayer is
A final outcry,
Each psalm
A quiet Kaddish.

Blind is the sun,
Silent the night.
The dying one is alone,
Far from his grave.

What are we to do,
Good friends
When the mood
Is so terrifying?

We bite our lips,
We clench our fists,
We say —
What do we say?

Tell me,
My good friends,
Why are you silent?
Where are you?


This book is a tribute to Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner, that features essays and poems by twelve renowned scholars, artists, and commentators. Exclusively for this book, Elie Wiesel has contributed seven original works previously unpublished in English: a sequence of three poems, two interviews, and three personal reflections on the things he most values.


We are grateful for this volume. Its impressive range of essays, interviews, reflections, and poems captures a luminous Wiesel yearning for answers while doubting — always doubting — that there are any.
— Dr. Dennis B. Klein, former director of the Braun Center of Holocaust Studies, Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith

Elie Wiesel is one of the great people of our times — not just because he survived when millions did not, but because he brought their message, and his own, to our minds and hearts.
— Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame

A former featured selection of the Jewish Book Club Participants in this tribute include:

Alan L. Berger — Paul Braunstein — Louis Daniel Brodsky — Harry James Cargas — Bob Costas — Leo Eitinger — Emil L. Fackenheim — Gail M. Gendler — William Heyen — Franklin H. Littell — John K. Roth — Dorothee Soelle