The “What to Remember, What to Forget” Edition

Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Miriam Herschlag, Don Futterman and Noah Efron discuss three topics of incomparable importance and end with an anecdote about something in Israel that made them smile this week.

No Place for Politics
Yad Vashem won’t host a speech by Volodymyr on the grounds that there’s no place for politics when it comes to the Holocaust. But that can’t be right, can it?

Was Pegasus Just Horsefeathers?
Eight weeks after it was called “maybe the most important story in Israel’s history,” reports that police used spy software to surveil all sorts of innocent people has disappeared from our minds and our newsfeeds. What happened?

Has the time come to retire the notion of Amalek, absolute and evil anti-semites who appear in each generation in a different guise?

Purim Love
For our most unreasonably generous Patreon supporters, in our extra-special, special extra discussion, we talk about how we learned to stop worrying and love Purim.

All this and Hila Cohen Elazar, celebrating her new record!


  • Haya Zman
  • Yaldah Holemet
  • At Heruti (featuring Ehud Banai)
  • Shir Lel Shabbat (featuring Gil Maestro)

Previous Episodes

2 comments on “The “What to Remember, What to Forget” Edition

  1. Shushan Purim Sameach! I am a new, devoted listener to The Promised Podcast, which I ADORE. In response to the discussion of Amalek, I’d like to suggest another perspective. As a historian of racism, particularly as it initially emerges against Jews, I reject the use of religious texts, like the Torah verses related to Amalek, to characterize people as inherently evil. This is precisely how medieval Christians racialized Jews (using Biblical examples of Cain, Ham and Ishmael) to justify legal and extra-legal violence and discrimination. In my view, Amalek represents the impulse to dehumanize and thus racialize a people such that one is permitted to exterminate them. To use the example of Amalek to identify a people as a whole as inherently evil vitiates what I take to be the meaning of the Torah. We need to attend to the apparent paradox of “timcheh et zecher Amalek mitachat hashamayim, lo tishkach” — remember to blot out this racializing impulse. And just in response to Noah’s characterization of Judaism as creating an us-them mentality, yes BUT it also includes views like the beautiful passages from Isaiah that we just read on Ta’anit Esther, which brings in ‘outsiders’ and affirms that G-d’s house will be a house of prayer for all peoples (61:7). Thanks for your stimulating and informative episodes. Shabbat Shalom

    1. Noah Efron says:

      I am replying star-struck (your *Racism in Medieval Christianity* is incredible, and – my God – you’re the woman who edited Shakespeare!). It gave me great pleasure to hear from you (to hear *anything* from you, and all the moreso because I have finally had my Annie-Hall-Marshall-McLuhan moment, though you were too kind to write “how you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing.”)

      You are right about everything, maybe most movingly of all in insisting that the thread of the tradition represented by Isaiah not be overlooked. Here is the one think about which I am not sure I completely agree. It seems to me that Amalek neologizes race, in a way. It is racial in the way that you say — all that talk about “wiping out seeds” and such – but it is also not racial, in the sense that Amalek pops up over and over again, in people whom no one would take to be of the same race. Now it is Hitler, now it is Stalin, now it is Ghaddaffi, now it is Idi Amin, now it is David Duke. There is a sort of essentialism there, but I sense – maybe wrongly – but it is an essentialism that is much more Kabbalistic than it is genetic. Which does not make it good in any sense, but does make it different.

      And as far as the racialization allowing dehumanization and then eliminationist violence, it seems important that Amalek after Biblical times has always only been identified after the fact and a posteriori. It is only after you know that someone is murderously evil that you can know that they are Amalek. So the chain of reasoning moves in the opposite direction of the normal racist chain of reasoning.

      Having said all that, I still think what you said is right and ought to be the last word on the subject. You may be saying to yourself, if this is what he is like when he *agrees* with you, how insufferable must he be when he disagrees? And if you are, well, I am afraid that’s true. My great luck in the world is that I am surrounded by people who are full of patience and unconditional love.

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