Courses Delve Into The ‘why' Of Holocaust, Other Disasters
The Day
Posted Wednesday, Nov 2nd, 2005

By BETHE DUFRESNE
General Assignment Reporter/Columnist
Published on 11/2/2005

New London — For people of faith, natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes have something else in common with manmade disasters such as the Holocaust besides massive death, fear and suffering.

They also pose the question: Where was God?

“Wrestling with God” is the title of lesson one in a new six-week course on the Holocaust offered this month by the international Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) in 120 locations worldwide, including two in New London.

Rabbi Avrohom Sternberg of Congregation Ahavath Chesed, regional JLI director, says the course will ask the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” from a Holocaust perspective, but also as it relates to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan.

More than 100 Holocaust museums and learning centers around the world, as well as leading Holocaust historians, have endorsed the course, titled “Beyond Never Again: The Holocaust Speaks to Our Generation.”

Sternberg will teach two sections of the course, one on consecutive Wednesdays beginning Nov. 9 and the other on consecutive Thursdays beginning this Thursday. He says this course differs from others because it emphasizes the good that many people did in the worst possible circumstances.

Instead of focusing just on the horror, he says, the focus shifts to “people who gathered the courage to sacrifice themselves to help others,” and to learning from them how that kind of courage can be applied to today's events.

“Three generations later, many Americans do not know anyone who personally experienced the Holocaust and are shockingly unaware of even rudimentary information,” reads the course rationale by JLI. “At the same time, there is an ever-growing flurry of Holocaust deniers spreading their falsehoods.”

“Yet an even greater challenge to keeping the Holocaust alive in collective memory,” JLI states, “is an attitude of apathy or resistance toward learning about the Holocaust. Many see no benefit to dwelling on the painful past, and are uncomfortable with the conflicted emotions it arises.

“It is this second challenge that the course primarily seeks to address.”

Registration is open to anyone, and spaces are still available on Wednesdays and Thursdays. There are Jews and non-Jews among the 20 people already signed up, Sternberg says. The cost per person is $69, textbooks included.

There will be no quizzes, says the rabbi, and he even promises a refund to anyone not satisfied with the program.

The Wednesday course will be held from 7:30 to 9:15 p.m. Nov. 9 to Dec. 14 at Congregation Ahavath Chesed, 590 Montauk Ave. Thursday's course will be held from 4 to 5:45 p.m. Nov. 3 to Dec. 15 at the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, 28 Channing St.

The timing is appropriate on several levels, Sternberg says.

Nov. 9 is the eve of the anniversary of Kristallnacht, or “Night of Broken Glass,” the 1938 pogrom in which Hitler's emissaries smashed and burned Jewish synagogues and businesses. Many consider it the beginning of the Holocaust.

Also, 2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Allied forces.

JLI, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., is Chabad's international Jewish literacy initiative. For more information or to register, call Sternberg at 437-8000 or visit www.MyJLI.com

http://theday.com/eng/web/news/re.aspx?re=9A0021E0-C075-4F70-81DB-4272EEAEC13C



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