The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute will present To Be a Jew in the Free World: Jewish Identity Through the Lens of Modern History, the institute’s new six-session Winter 2014 course that will begin during the week of Feb. 4.
Rabbi Shmaya Krinsky of the Chabad Center for Jewish life will conduct the six course sessions at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 4 at the Chabad Center for Jewish life, 26 New Amwell Road in Hillsborough.
“A recent PEW study exposed that 22 percent of Jews identify as ‘Jews with no religion’ and for many, this is a clear indication that the landscape of Jewish identity is changing rapidly,” Rabbi Zalman Abraham, of JLI’s headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y., said. “Our objective with this course is to initiate a discussion about Jewish identity, why it is still relevant, and what we can do to make it something our children and grandchildren will cherish for generations to come.
In To Be a Jew in the Free World, participants will confront questions of allegiance and issues in which Judaism and contemporary society appear to be in conflict. Looking into the past, the course explores a series of fascinating case studies, such as arguments made in the 1650s to convince Oliver Cromwell to readmit Jews to England, and how Ulysses S. Grant’s 1862 expulsion of the Jews became a defining issue in his presidential election.
To be a Jew in the Free World is unique in that it will likely represent the first nationwide effort to bring the Jewish community together to address these important issues since the findings of the PEW report were released in October 2013.
“The subject of identity is close to the hearts of many in our Jewish community, yet it’s a subject that is rarely discussed nowadays,” Rabbi Krinsky said. “The course provides a rare opportunity to address this issue that will benefit the wider community of Southern Somerset County, and we invite everyone to attend.”
Like all JLI programs, To Be a Jew in the Free World is designed to appeal to people at all levels of Jewish knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. All JLI courses are open to the public, and attendees need not be affiliated with a particular synagogue, temple, or other house of worship.
Interested students may call 908-874-0444 or visit the Jewish Learning Institute website for registration and other course-related information.