Invitation to listen

Invitation to listen

Shalom and thank you for listening.

For me, Excerpts of History has been, for many years, a pleasant way to take a break from everyday worries to listen to fascinating stories and distant worlds.

My love of history, and of listening to the Excerpts of History podcast series, as well as to other podcasts, was passed on to my entire family, especially our eldest daughter, Shira, who was murdered at the gay pride parade in Jerusalem in the summer of 2015.

Many times, when I listen to Excerpts of History, and in general, when I read and study history, I again agree with the adage “those who do not learn from history are condemned to relive it.”

Despite all the technological changes, and even though it seems that the world we live in is a new world, different from anything that preceded it, I believe that the basic elements of the human soul and the basic motives of people and nations have changed very little over the millennia.  People have always been, and will always be, driven by a collection of urges and wishes, some of which are noble and worthy, and others less so.  There have always been, and always will be, the chase for wealth and happiness, fear of death, the desire for fame, the wish to help others, and the wish to harm others, the chase for national honor, and the wish to ensure the safety and welfare of your children.

These did not emerge with the iPhone and there is nothing new in them.

To the same degree, the case of the extremist Jew who walks in Jerusalem carrying a knife in his sleeve and murders those who he thinks are Jews less good than him – is neither new nor unique.

I invite you to read the book of Josephus Flavius about the Great Rebellion against Rome and the reality in Jerusalem in the late 60s of the first century CE.  The Sicarii Jews who resided in the city at the time murdered their opponents. They are part of Jewish history, and we should remember them to prevent its recurrence.

As people who have personally experienced the terrible results of extremism and hatred – it hurts us that, even though the writing was on the wall, many good people failed to heed the warning.  Some of them did so deliberately, but a greater number did so out of ignorance and a lack of understanding of historical processes, out of a lack of understanding about the dangers of incitement, hatred, ignorance, generalization and marking groups of people as outcasts.  We thought it proper – in part through the activities we are attempting launch in order to commemorate Shira – to reduce the ignorance and hate by spreading knowledge.

Podcasts are a democratic and popular means of spreading knowledge.  You can listen to them privately through earphones while running, riding a bicycle, hanging out the laundry, or during any other activity, or you can listen to them with your children in the car or with members of a youth movement or pupils in the classroom.  The podcasts are aired free of charge, and except for the internet hookup and loudspeakers or earphones, nothing is needed to listen to them.  They encourage thinking and arise curiosity, and expand knowledge in an inviting and convenient way.

Our daughter Shira was a wonderful, wise, musical girl, a magnificent daughter, an exemplary sister, and a good friend – sensitive and caring.  Until an ignorant man, with the backing of other ignorant and dark souls, murdered her.

Don’t be ignorant.  Be curious, learn, meet others – the world is complex and diverse. History is full of lessons that should be learnt. Learn them in order to avoid the tragedies of the past, those of the Jewish people and of other nations.

In commemoration of Shira, and under the leadership of Yuval Malchi and the entire Excerpts of History team, we seek to air episodes which can teach us something about love of man and the dangers of hate.

We hope you enjoy.