This winter, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute six-session course Judaism’s Gifts to the World: How Major Jewish Ideas Evolved into Universal Values comes to three B.C. Chabad centres: Chabad Richmond, Lubavitch BC and Chabad of Nanaimo.
Participants will learn how personal responsibility, the inherent sanctity of human life, universal education, human equality, the dignity of a day of rest, devotion to family, and a sense of purpose have their origins in ancient Judaism. Judaism’s Gifts to the World is designed to appeal to people at all levels of knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. This course is open to the public.
“At a moment in which we are witnessing a rise in antisemitism, it is important to explore what has been the true impact of Jews and Judaism on civilization,” said Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman, director of Chabad Richmond and the JLI instructor in Richmond. “Understanding Judaism’s historical contribution gives us a deeper appreciation for its continuing relevance and a better understanding of how the moral and ethical institutions we take for granted came into being.”
Baitelman added that Judaism’s Gifts to the World explores the tension between social and individual responsibility, the implications of monotheism, the meaning of social equality, how Sabbath observance has laid the groundwork for the modern weekend, and the underpinnings of our morality.
Rabbi Mordechai Dinerman, director of curriculum at JLI’s New York headquarters, said, “It is widely known that Judaism gifted monotheism to the world, but, for many, that’s where the Jewish contribution ends. Even this contribution is often viewed rather narrowly, as a religious contribution … but, as this course demonstrates, the universal change effected by the Torah is much broader.”
Dr. Darrin M. McMahon, professor of history at Dartmouth College, has praised Judaism’s Gifts to the World. “There can be no doubt that the Jewish contribution to the civilizations of the West and the world is immense,” he said. “At a time when noxious critics would doubt that contribution or deny it altogether, the Jewish Learning Institute has offered a timely reminder of the many gifts the Jewish tradition has bestowed. Judaism’s Gifts to the World … provides a scintillating course in the history of ideas and culture by leading experts from around the globe.”
Judaism’s Gifts to the World starts Wednesday, Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m., at Chabad Richmond ($95, 604-277-6427) and Vancouver Lubavitch Centre ($90, 604-266-1313) and runs for six weeks; and the six Tuesday sessions at Chabad of Nanaimo ($95, 250-797-7877) start Jan. 28, 7 p.m. Register at the local Chabad centres or via myjli.com.