Four-Week Jewpernatural Course Promises to Clear Up Paranormal Questions

Posted Friday, Apr 21st, 2023

Paranormal beliefs are rising fast. In 2016, 46% of Americans reported believing in ghosts, according to Chapman University. That figure has reached 57%, and since the pandemic, one in five Americans say they've personally met a ghost. And it's not just ghosts. Topics like astrology, dream interpretation, and psychic abilities are rapidly becoming mainstream.

Although the resurgence of public interest in the paranormal is new, Rabbi Yaakov Kotlarsky of the Chabad Jewish Center of Arlington Heights says we don't need to reinvent the wheel. Starting May 10, he's leading a four-week course from the Jewish Learning Institute entitled Jewpernatural that unearths the Jewish perspective on dreams, astrology, spirits and other enduring mysteries.

"The Jewish tradition has probed these issues for three millennia," he says. "These are legitimate questions that deserve meaningful and satisfying answers."

For some, alternative beliefs provide comfort amid lonely and uncertain times. In one incident reported by Teen Vogue, Chicago resident Emily Jacobs said the ghost in her apartment "brings her comfort."

"Even in the loneliest of times during the pandemic, especially living alone, I have a friend who checks in on me," she said. Jewpernatural takes this into account.

Rabbi Kotlarsky says the new course will address the anxiety driving interest in the paranormal.

"We won't get bogged down in the spooky details," he says, "and we can't claim to provide absolute certainty. But we will discuss how we can find comfort and refocus our energy on what matters most."

The trend toward the paranormal encompasses a broad spectrum of beliefs, including jinxes, demons, spirits, communicating with the deceased and astrology. To satisfy this curiosity, Jewpernatural addresses everything from the role of angels and the efficacy of the "evil eye" to whether the stars have much to say about your future.

"We're tackling a wide spectrum of ideas," Rabbi Kotlarsky says. "But, after preparing the materials, I'm confident we'll be able to offer a thoughtful, satisfying, and relevant perspective rooted in authentic Jewish thought."

The course will be offered in-person as well as over Zoom. Sign-in information will be provided upon enrollment.

As with other JLI programs, the course is designed to appeal to people at all levels of knowledge, including those without prior exposure to Jewish learning. All JLI courses are open to the public, and attendees need not be affiliated with a particular synagogue, temple, or house of worship.

Interested students may visit or call (224) 357-7002 for registration and for other course-related information.

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