Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy to present course on Jewish identity

Posted Wednesday, Jan 29th, 2014

LONGMEADOW - The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy will present "To Be a Jew in the Free World: Jewish Identity Through the Lens of Modern History," the institute's new six-session course.

It will be offered at the academy, 1148 Converse St., for six Wednesdays, beginning Feb. 5, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Fee for the course, which includes a student textbook, is $100 with a couples' price of $180.

"To Be a Jew in the Free World" will also be offered at law offices of James Smith, 1331 Main St., Springfield, for six consecutive Thursdays beginning Feb. 6 from 12:45 to 1:45 p.m.

"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," said Rabbi Zalman Abraham of the institute, which is headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"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," the rabbi said.

During the course, 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.

"The subject of identity is close to the hearts of many in our Jewish community, and Jewish Identity today will be at the core of To Be a Jew in the Free World." said Rabbi Yakov Wolff, the local instructor.

The program is designed to appeal to people at all levels of Jewish knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. It is open to the public, and attendees need not be affiliated with a particular synagogue, temple, or other house of worship.

Interested students may call (413) 348-4978 or go online to for registration and other course-related information.

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