Home June 2012 Something in Common

Something in Common

When 10-year-old Max Goldsmith was asked to do a report about a famous person for his 3rd grade class at Rose Drive Elementary last year, he thought outside of the box.  While most of the children chose a famous sports figure or professional entertainer, Max decided he wanted to learn more about Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  Max’s mother, Melissa, a professor at Chapman University where Professor Wiesel is a Distinguished Presidential Fellow who visits the university annually for one week each spring, took him to do his research at the Chapman Holocaust library.  With the help of Dr. Marilyn Harran, director of the Rogers Center for Holocaust Education and Stern Chair in Holocaust Education at Chapman, and her assistants, Max spent several hours conducting his research and found lots of information about Wiesel for his report.
Max found many interesting facts about Elie Wiesel in conducting his research.  He found that Wiesel likes to play chess, just like Max.  He also learned that Elie Wiesel used to play the violin, while for over 3 years Max has played the viola.  Of course, Max found out about all Elie Wiesel has done and continues to do to make the world a better place.  They shared that common thread too; Max has asked for charitable donations in lieu of gifts for his birthday each year since he turned 5.
After receiving his report back with a solid “A,” Max’s parents, Melissa and Glen, recommended that he send Professor Wiesel a letter.  Max wrote a very heartfelt letter explaining his similarities to Wiesel.  Along with the letter, Max sent a laminated copy of his report.  In his letter Max told Wiesel that he would love the opportunity to play his viola for him the next time Wiesel comes to Chapman University.  Much to his surprise, Max received a personal letter back from Elie Wiesel within a few weeks saying, “…if I have time when I come to Chapman, I would love the opportunity to meet you and have you play your viola for me.”
In April Max, a 4th grader at Far Horizons Montessori, had the opportunity to play his viola for Elie Wiesel.  Max’s performance, added to Wiesel’s very busy schedule by Dr. Harran after Max and Melissa shared Max’s report and subsequent correspondence with her, was the final event in this year’s visit by Wiesel.  Max took the stage at the conclusion of a seminar for finalist teachers whose students placed high in the annual Chapman Holocaust Art and Writing contest.  Max played directly in front of Wiesel, and the two developed a very strong bond.  Max promised to keep Wiesel appraised of his charitable acts and where his music is taking him.


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