"No power and no force can abolish memory..."
(Message to the American Booksellers Association, April 23, 1942)

In commemoration of Yom ha-Shoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) and in celebration of the Jubilee Anniversary of the State of Israel, this issue of JHOM focuses on the topic of MEMORY. We begin with the Bible, where remembrance is pivotal and the injunction to remember unconditional; the verb zakhor (remember) appears 169 times in the Bible, usually with Israel and God as the subjects.

The biblical injunction not to forget is the obverse of the command to remember; Prof. Jeffrey Tigay discusses the dual commandement in Exodus: "remember what [the wicked nation] Amalek did to you on your journey" and also "blot out the memory of Amalek". Eli Wiesel (in a selection from his Nobel lecture in 1986) addresses this tension as well, speaking of both the supreme duty toward memory and the need to forget after the Holocaust. In a personal tribute, a young man who spent the war years in Terezin remembers the beautiful girl whom he loved and who is now gone.

Historian Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi (from a Stroum lecture at Washington University,1980) discusses the decay of the collective Jewish memory and the role of the Jewish historian in its restoration. Dr. David Roskies follows the link between memory and covenant as it evolved through history, and the function of archetypal thinking in shaping group memory. And as regards individual retentive memory, the Talmud teaches us curious magical tricks to make our way to the head of the class.

In a moving poem entitled "The man who stepped out of his shoes," Israeli poet Uri Zvi Greenberg writes of a man of manly stature who walks empty-handed into the distance, leaving behind not only his shoes, but the memory of his shoes. While he has forgotten his shoes, his shoes do not forget him; they wait for him. We ask our readers to share their thoughts and insights.

MEMORY Table of Contents



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