Podcast: Our Favorite Broadcasts of 2021

The podcast covered everything from Israeli political challenges to Yiddish education controversies this year. This week, we feature excerpts from some of our favorites.



Dec. 31 2021
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A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.

This Week: Excerpts from Our Favorite Conversations of 2021


In 2021, 49 different guests appeared on the podcast over the course of 44 new episodes. Our conversations touched on some of the most important and interesting subjects in Jewish life, including discussions with leaders of Israel’s ḥaredi community, a course developer who is deploying technology to teach people Yiddish, diplomats and strategists shaping foreign-policy debates in Israel, Europe, and America, elected officials and diplomats, historians and social scientists, theologians and rabbis, academics and authors, reporters and entrepreneurs. Each guest, in conversation with Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver, trained his or her unique perspective on some timely or enduring question that stands before the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

In this episode, we present some of our favorite conversations this year. Guests featured in this year-end episode include the Israeli rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer, the foreign-policy analysts Benjamin Haddad and Michael Doran, the Wall Street Journal editor Elliot Kaufman, the social scientist Nicholas Eberstadt, the Jewish educational leader David Rozenson, the Yiddish expert Meena Viswanath, the tech CEO Sean Clifford, the novelist Dara Horn, and the eminent writer Cynthia Ozick.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.



Excerpt (48:22-50:17):


Dara Horn:

When that [Holocaust] museum opened there were a lot of other museums that opened during that era around the 1990s. As grim as the subject matter felt, I remember feeling like there was something kind of hopeful about the project. There was this optimism that people would come to these museums and see what the world had done to the Jews, see where hatred can lead, and they would then stop hating Jews. As I put it in the book, it wasn’t a ridiculous idea, but 25 years later I think maybe we can say that it hasn’t been entirely successful. Levels of anti-Semitic incidents and attacks are much higher now than they were at the time when those museums were built. That’s maybe something to think about: this idea that Holocaust education prevents anti-Semitism should be reevaluated. I don’t think you see a lot of results, but maybe there are other reasons to teach this. 

To be fair there are other museums I can think of that have taken a different approach. I can’t evaluate this museum in any way because I haven’t been to it, but there’s the museum POLIN  in Warsaw, which opened about ten years ago. This is a Jewish museum in Warsaw, a city that used to be about a third Jewish and obviously doesn’t have many Jews in it today, which is really a history of Jewish life in Poland. It’s about different ḥasidic sects, different political movements, Yiddish secular culture, Yiddish religious culture; it’s about those things. It’s about the content of the civilization not the destruction of the civilization. That would be the approach I would find more powerful and meaningful, because it is centering on Jewish life.

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