Jews of Ponte Vedra/Jacksonville Beaches Address Relevance of Judaism in Modern Society

Posted Thursday, Jan 9th, 2014
The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) 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 February 5th.

Rabbi Nochum Kurinsky of Chabad @ the Beaches will conduct the six course sessions at 7:00 PM on Wednesdays starting Feb 5th at The Aaron and Blanche Scharf Chabad Center.

“A recent PEW study exposed that 22% 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,” said Rabbi Zalman Abraham of JLI’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. “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 of 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,” said Rabbi Nochum Kurinsky, the local JLI instructor in Ponte Vedra. “The course provides a rare opportunity to address this issue that will benefit the wider Jacksonville Beaches community, 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 904.543.9301 or visit for registration and other course-related information. [JLI courses are presented in Ponte Vedra in conjunction with Chabad @ the Beaches.]

JLI, the adult education branch of Chabad Lubavitch, offers programs in more than 600 U.S. cities and in numerous foreign locations, including Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela. More than 320,000 students have attended JLI classes since the organization was founded in 1998.

Members of the local media are invited to observe a class and/or conduct an advance interview with the local course facilitator. Interviews with national facilitators and course creators also may be scheduled, upon request. Contact Rabbi Nochum Kurinsky of JLI and Chabad @ the Beaches, 904.543.9301 or [email protected] for additional media-related information.
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