Chabad brings Jewish view to Flag

Posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2009
JackCentral - Flagstaff, AZ

Chabad brings Jewish view to Flag

Posted By Matthew Vinsko On November 18, 2009 @ 11:40 pm

A new course designed to help Jewish members of the community better understand the concepts life, death and beyond is currently being offered at the Chabad of Flagstaff.

SoulQuest, a series of seven classes designed by the national Jewish Learning Institute (JLI), helps students learn about their own mortality from a Judaic standpoint. The course focuses on the use of spirit in finding one’s ultimate purpose in life.

Rabbi Dovie Shapiro, who teaches SoulQuest at the Chabad, said the course is designed to answer the many questions people have concerning their humanity.

“The course focuses on who we really are,” Shapiro said. “Are we really more than our bodies? Can we access our souls to make a practical difference in the world around us? These classes help [us] understand that from a Jewish perspective.”

Originally a course written by Rabbi Yisrael Rice of the JLI,
SoulQuest is currently taught in more than 300 Jewish
communities throughout the country.

“The course addresses the most commonly asked questions about the soul’s journey,” Rice said. “Though there are many traditions that deal with the nature of the soul and its journey, this course reveals a counterintuitive conclusion that is unique to the Jewish tradition.”

Of the 20 students currently enrolled in the seven-week class, three are NAU students.

Allison Bresin, a senior secondary English education major, said the course provides the community with a much-needed dose of Judaic education.

“It is nice to have a Jewish class up here,” Bresin said. “When [NAU] does cover Judaism in their religious classes, it is so bland and not even correct. SoulQuest feels like a legit class.”

Even though it is a course mandated by the JLI, complete with assigned textbooks and a curriculum, Shapiro said a sense of community was easy to establish in the class.

“The idea is to make it personal,” Shapiro said. “Even though we are examining classic Jewish sources, like the Talmud and the Kabbalah, we add personal stories and ask [for] input from the participants.”

The first class, which took place on Nov. 4, examined the idea of a soul and its ability to transcend the body while interacting with the world.

“In the first class, they showed a video connecting the soul with electricity,” Bresin said. “It made the concept of the soul as a power source easier to grasp.”

In the coming weeks, classes include lessons concerning death, reincarnation and the soul’s connection with love.

“These are really the biggest questions people seem to have,”
Shapiro said. “They are not just philosophical ideas. Every lesson uses content to bring the meaning to day-to-day life. I am excited for the rest of the course.”

SoulQuest takes place on Wednesday nights between 7 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

“The class covers the complete spectrum,” Shapiro said. “It does not matter what prior knowledge or Jewish background you have; we are open to the entire community.”

Following SoulQuest, the Chabad of Flagstaff will host a series of classes, called “Portraits and Leaderships,” which teach students how to cope with times of crisis and change.

Enrollment is $40 for NAU students, $80 for single adults and $130 for couples.

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