Night by Elie Wiesel Vocabulary

Instructor: Rachel Noorda
This lesson looks at the difficult vocabulary in 'Night' by Elie Wiesel. Because Elie Wiesel is a Jewish man who lived through the Holocaust he uses many German phrases in the book as well as words that have to do with Judaism. In this lesson, you will discover the meaning of these words.

Introduction to Night

The biggest difficulty in the life of most fifteen-year-olds is whether or not their crush likes them and if they are going to pass high school math. But for Elie Wiesel, he was fifteen years old when he was sent to a concentration camp in Poland, all because he was Jewish. It is hard to imagine how horrible it must have been.

Night is a memoir by Elie Wiesel about his experiences in a concentration camp during World War II. Because the book is about World War II from the perspective of a Holocaust survivor and a member of the Jewish faith, there are many German words and words relating to Judaism in the book. The vocabulary words you will learn in this lesson primarily relate to German and Judaic words.

A Night Dictionary


Auschwitz: a place in Poland where the largest Nazi concentration camp during World War II was built. This is the concentration camp where Elie Wiesel, the main character of Night, was sent when he was only fifteen years old.

Beadle: someone who assists a religious leader, such as a rabbi, in the Jewish faith. In Night, Elie Wiesel talks about his friend 'Moshe the Beadle' who was called that because his name was Moshe and he was a beadle in the Jewish faith. In the story, Moshe and other Jewish leaders in Sighet were forced to leave for a time. When Moshe came back to Sighet, he had lost his joy and his faith in God. He tried to warn other people about the concentration camps, but no one listened.

Sighet, Romania

Sighet: a little town in Transylvania where Elie Wiesel grew up.

Hasidic: a member of a certain Jewish sect; a branch of orthodox Judaism. Elie Wiesel is a Hasidic Jew, which means that he adhered to strict Jewish laws and learned about Jewish mysticism, particularly through the teachings of the Kabbalah.

Kabbalah: Jewish mysticism and a way of interpreting scripture. In Night, Elie Wiesel talks about wanting to study the Kabbalah, but he couldn't find a master to teach him. However, when Elie told Moshe the Beadle, Moshe agreed to teach him.

Talmud: Jewish law. Elie Wiesel studied the Talmud as part of his religious studies.

Synagogue in Romania

Synagogue: a building for Jewish religious services. Elie Wiesel spends a lot of his time at the synagogue in the beginning of Night as he studies religious texts and talks to religious leaders like Moshe the Beadle.

Gestapo: secret police organization. The Gestapo are there when Elie Wiesel and other members of his Jewish community get on a train from Hungary to Poland to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

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