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The Jewish Course of Why

The Jewish Course of Why

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Give your Judaism the intellection it deserves as you discuss and debate the most quizzical, controversial, and seemingly-unanswerable questions about Jewish belief and practice.

No religion is known for its rational basis and its welcoming of questions and intellectual debate quite like Judaism. As Jews we understand that curiosity is the greatest impetus for learning, and that our propensity to question is what propels us to constantly explore new ideas and discover new insights. Nowhere is this more apparent than in The Jewish Course of Why.

In preparing for this course, we asked 30,000 people for their biggest questions about Judaism. We selected the most popular among them and addressed each one with resonant insights from the greatest minds in Jewish history.

The Jewish Course of Why spans a diverse range of topics, from fun, light, and off-the-beaten-track questions, to more complex and controversial issues. Ever wondered why there are so many Jews in Hollywood? Why Jews eat gefilte fish and cholent and wish each other mazal tov and l'chaim? Why the Bible sanctions slavery and animal sacrifices? What is the cause of antisemitism? What does Judaism say about Christianity? About the role of women in Jewish life? You will also gain insight into mysterious Jewish practices, strange biblical narratives, and enigmas of Jewish identity.

Join us for Six Tuesday's
Starting Feb 23rd 2015
7:30-9:00 p.m.

Location:
Wingate at Sudbury
136 Boston Post Road
Sudbury, MA 01776

Fee:
$99 (textbook included)
Join the first class free (with no obligation to continue)

For more information:
Call: 978-443-0110
Email: info@chabadsudbury.com

Some of the 50 Why's we will be covering in this Course

The 50 questions were chosen based on a survey of over 30,000 adult learners who were asked to list their biggest questions about Judaism. Please scroll down for the full list of 50 questions we will address in the course.

Here is the list of 50 fun, complex and controversial questions about Jews and Judaism that we will address:

Do you have other questions not included here? Please email me your questions to Rabbi@chabadsudbury.com and I will do what I can to address them during the course.

  1. Why ask "Why?"? Isn't Judaism a belief system?
  2. Why are there no miracles today of biblical proportions?
  3. Why do we pray? Doesn't G‑d know what He is doing? Can we really affect His will?
  4. Why is there so much fragmentation in Jewish practice?
  5. Why have the Jews survived millennia while so many other civilizations have vanished?
  6. Why don't Jews accept the Christian messiah?
  7. Why do we kindle yahrtzeit candles to commemorate the dead?
  8. Why is the Star of David a Jewish symbol?
  9. Why does a mikveh "purify"?
  10. Why do people require "purification"?
  11. Why are there so many dos and don'ts in Judaism?
  12. Why do many Jews sway when they pray?
  13. Why do traditional synagogues have separate seating for men and women?
  14. Why is Israel important to the Jews?
  15. Why does the Bible call for animal sacrifices?
  16. Why are there so many Jews in Hollywood?
  17. Why do we believe that Jews cannot convert out of Judaism?
  18. Why did our ancestors continue to identify as Jews despite being victims of so much suffering through the ages?
  19. Why does a mourner recite Kaddish?
  20. Why do Jews place pebbles on headstones?
  21. Why is it not customary to leave flowers at the grave?
  22. Why does Jewish law exempt women from certain ritual obligations that are obligatory for men?
  23. Why are ten men required for a minyan?
  24. ­­Why doesn't G‑d respond to my requests?
  25. Why does G‑d give us negative, even harmful inclinations?
  26. Why doesn't Judaism seek converts?
  27. Why does the Torah say that the Jews are the "chosen people"? Isn't that racist?
  28. Why do we believe that we have free choice if G‑d always knew how we would choose?
  29. Why does the Torah permit slavery?
  30. Why does Jewish law obsess over details?
  31. Why is it permitted to have sexual relations on Shabbat?
  32. Why does the Bible refer to sexual relations as "knowing"?
  33. Why aren't vegan foods and restaurants Kosher by default?
  34. Why do we say lechayim as a drinking salutation?
  35. Why are the Jewish holidays always "late" or "early"?
  36. Why do we say Mazal Tov?
  37. Why do Jews eat gefilte fish on Shabbat?
  38. Why do Jews eat cholent on Shabbat?
  39. Why is a G‑d-fearing person praiseworthy? Isn't fear a negative emotion? Why isn't love enough?
  40. Why does Jewish law recognize matrilineal descent as the deciding factor for Jewish identity?
  41. Why do some Jews wear old-fashioned clothes?
  42. Why would the Torah state, "Do not cook a kid in its mother's milk" if the intention-according to the Talmud-is a broader prohibition?
  43. Why are eggs pareve, though the birds that lay the eggs are fleishig?
  44. Why have the Jews been singled out for persecution and hate throughout history?
  45. Why does Jewish adulthood begin at age twelve for girls and thirteen for boys?
  46. Why do we pour a cup of wine for Elijah at the Passover seder?
  47. Why is it not forbidden to submit petitions of prayer to a righteous person? Isn't it true that Judaism forbids using intermediaries to access G‑d?
  48. Why do Chasidim think it is necessary to have a rebbe? Isn't it true that Jews do not require intermediaries to access G‑d?
  49. Why is Moses' name absent from the Haggadah?
  50. Why does Judaism associate so many of its celebrations with food?

 

Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman
Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies; Director, Global Network for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies, NYU

This course will provide participants with a deep understanding of numerous traditional Jewish practices and customs and their historical context, and should greatly increase their appreciation for the unending intellectual quest that is a major part of Jewish life.

Dr. Lisa Aiken
International Lecturer, Psychologist, Author of 11 Books

I wish that such courses had existed when I started learning about Judaism. What a wonderful way for beginners as well as people with much background to expand their knowledge of Judaism.

Michael Medved
Nationally Syndicated Talk Radio Host

This exciting and substantive course will provide a more fulfilling perspective, answering the troubling questions that many of us are reluctant to even ask.

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