Jewish lessons examine why bad things happen

Posted Thursday, Apr 29th, 2010
Stockton Record
By Jo Ann Kirby
April 26, 2010
Record Staff Writer

It's a question that people ask over and over again: Why do bad things happen to good people?

Chabad of Stockton - an outreach organization devoted to helping Jews reconnect with their faith - presents a six-week course, "Beyond Never Again," beginning Tuesday to address the timeless question.

"Everyone can identify with this question," Rabbi Avremel Brod said. "If God is so loving, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people?"

"Beyond Never Again"

When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays

Where: Chabad of Stockton, 1330 W. Lincoln Road

Cost: $89, which includes a text to take home

Information/registration: (209) 952-2081;

Timed to coincide with Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day, the course also examines the nature of good and evil along with how empathy and conscience can be nurtured.

"We use the lessons of the Holocaust to examine the bigger picture," said Brod, who teaches the classes. "Was God asleep at the wheel? Why would he allow this to happen? Everyone can connect to this."

Brod said it's a question that is always relevant, especially given recent natural disasters, including the earthquake in Haiti.

"Look at all the things that are happening in the world today," he said. "When crazy things happen and thousands of people die, we turn to God and ask why?"

It's a question also faced frequently on a personal level, when people are faced with setbacks such as a sudden job loss or a devastating health crisis.

Curriculum for the course is provided by Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Chabad of Stockton is one of just 300 locations worldwide offering the course.

"We present three different courses each year. For instance, we had one on prayer," Brod said. "We had another on Kabbalah, which was really great."

Larry Friedman said he and his wife, Janice, are active in the local Chabad and look forward to the classes.

"We've been taking the JLI courses since they first started offering them about three years ago. The classes are very stimulating, mentally. It helps keep you sharp and ward off (dementia)," he said. "The topics cover a wide variety of issues. There's a lot of philosophical, moral stuff. It's all very good, and it's quite a privilege to take these classes because there are only a couple of hundred rabbis in the nation qualified to teach them."

The classes are open to anyone in the community and the current session is designed for anyone interested in examining difficult questions regarding faith and suffering. The text-based classes also include audio-visual clips and feature discussion periods.

To learn more about the local Chabad organization, including opportunities to attend services, celebrate traditional Jewish holidays or educational opportunities, go online to

Contact reporter Jo Ann Kirby at (209) 546-8256 or [email protected].

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