In his parting instructions to his people, Moses stresses the importance of historical perspective, for the present is an outgrowth of our past. By studying history, we are able to relate to current issues with greater understanding.
The story of the Jewish people is a story of a nation that has contributed to world history far more than might be expected from its small numbers. Indeed, it is remarkable how often the Jews have been found at the epicenter of world events. Many surveys of Jewish history have responded to this fact by considering the impact of Jews upon other nations and their contributions to history at large.
This course, however, looks at the Jewish encounter with other cultures in light of what these interactions have meant to us as Jews. The protean ability of the Jewish people to adapt to wildly different contexts has growing relevance to all of us as we enter an era of globalization and increasingly permeable borders.
This April, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute is proud to launch a new course, "Flashbacks in Jewish History." Each of the six lessons considers the Jewish people as they grapple with surrounding cultures. Rather than focus on the geopolitical, we have kept an eye towards themes that resonate with contemporary Jewish experience. We expect even those students who do not consider themselves history enthusiasts to find the readings compelling and relevant.
Who hasn’t wondered what happens when we die? We know what happens to the body. But what happens to the soul at birth and again at death?
- Is there really a “better” place after this one?
- Do our loved ones continue to connect with us?
- Can I relate to an afterlife if I’m not spiritual?
At once practical and powerful, reflective and relatable, Journey of the Soul teaches a Jewish perspective on life that begins before birth and lasts well after a person’s passing.
It’s a journey we all take, and it’s yours to explore this winter.
Why are humans so anxious about death and dying? For many, the abrupt finality of death makes life itself seem futile. By exploring how our life force—our immortal soul—never ends but merely shifts roles, we begin to view life and death as two harmonious steps on the same journey.
Is death painful for souls? Is my presence felt when I visit a grave? Judaism’s pre-burial and burial rituals accompany the soul’s gradual transition from a limiting physical life to a completely spiritual one. We discuss those rituals and how, once freed, the soul’s connection to the living continues in new and powerful ways.
What is the Jewish grieving process and what is the significance of its various traditions? This lesson provides a meaningful Jewish perspective on grief itself, as well as practical shiva etiquette both for mourners and for those who wish to comfort them.
For centuries, human beings have been motivated by the promise of heaven and frightened by the threat of hell. Discover what Jews believe about where every soul goes and how Kaddish aids a soul in reaching true peace.
Reincarnation: more than a fascinating topic, Judaism provides a practical way to imagine this mystical process, and explains why it is important both to departed souls and to our lives today.
By now we’ve come to appreciate death as the next phase in our ongoing personal missions. In our final lesson, we use what we’ve learned to revisit our priorities in this current phase and find ways to fill every moment with everlasting significance.