Global Professor, Sela Chair and Head of Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science and New York University
ABSTRACT | Persistence of National Core Memory over 3000 Years: The Case of Ancient vs. Modern Israel
The core collective memory of a culture/nation is the minimal set of cross-generational mnemonic items that are considered by members of that culture/nation to define their collective origin, history, and distinctiveness. I will present data and hypotheses concerning the encoding, consolidation, transformation, and persistence of a fundamental constituent of the core memory of the Jewish culture, whose elements can be traced back >3000 years (i.e. >120 generations) ago. This core memory amalgamated fact with fiction in its first ca. 1000 years before being put in writing in a text of only 63 Hebrew words. The content of this core memory remained essentially unchanged since then, relying in its high-fidelity persistence on multiple types of recurrent procedural reactivations. In recent centuries it has contributed to the revitalization and realization of a national movement; yet in doing so, it also contributed to a rather fast evolution of Jewish cultural memory, manifested in its differentiation into sub-narratives that differ, inter alia, in their national orthodoxy, geographical distribution, religious hue, and populist flavor.