Friday, November 4, 2005
Chabad class to explore modern relevance of Holocaust
By: AGNES DIGGS - Staff Writer
People all over the world are signing up for a six-week class that is defined more by what it is not than what it is. It's not a history, not an explanation, not about the pain and suffering, organizers say. Rather, it's a "journey into the intense realm of meaning.""Beyond Never Again: The Holocaust ---- A View From the Soul" explores the ways in which the Nazis' concerted effort to obliterate European Jewry during World War II affects this generation.
"We know what happened," said Rabbi Yossi Bryski, who will conduct the series of classes at the Chabad Educational Center in Scripps Ranch, "We know how it happened. We know the numbers. We know about the bad guys. We know about the good guys. What we don't know is ---- where was God?"The series will begin Wednesday, timed to coincide with the commemoration of Kristallnacht ---- Night of the Broken Glass ---- a 1939 government-sanctioned act of terrorism in Germany that marked the beginning of what came to be known as Hitler's "final solution." The global educational initiative was organized by the Jewish Learning Institute, the adult education arm of Chabad-Lubavitch. The first-time course will be offered simultaneously in more than 160 locations worldwide, "to create a true global learning community," organizers said. No religious affiliation is required for enrollment.Questions for discussion will include: Why does God permit the suffering of the innocent? How do we respond to global suffering? How do we find meaning in the face of suffering? What can we expect of humanity after the Holocaust?"The purpose of the class is to gain a perspective for our day," said Rabbi Yitzchok Hurwitz of Chabad in Temecula. "We all know the history. It's been well-documented. It's to find the significance of it for our lives today."A lot of people gave up their belief in God because of what happened in the Holocaust, Hurwitz said. And a lot of people have gone through rough times and asked themselves, "Why?""It's a very strong question," Hurwitz said. The questions have to be answered, he said, but not necessarily in an hour.Participants can benefit from the combined experience of all the instructors, who have shared their knowledge through long-distance discussions to constantly improve the course, Hurwitz said.The classes will be text-based and include audio-visual presentations. Students receive a password that allows them to exchange ideas on the Internet with fellow students about what they are learning.Based on textbook sales and shipments, enrollment has already surpassed 10,000 worldwide, said Bryski, adding that he is pleased by the numbers. The numbers are important because this year marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp."As the generation of Holocaust survivors leaves us, we need to ensure an ongoing discussion of this unique tragedy," Bryski said.Fallbrook resident Sandra Pfeffer, 43, is taking the class to honor a family member who was a concentration camp survivor, she said. She will be seeking answers to the "why" questions about the Holocaust."It hits home for a lot of people," she said. "When I was a kid, I had an uncle that was in a concentration camp. He used to tell me about it all the time. People thought he was crazy, but I don't think he was. He was just reliving what he went through. I guess I'm taking the classes in his memory."Pamela Rubin-Knudsen, 43, an insurance agent from Temecula, wants to study the Holocaust less from the historical aspect and more from the perspective of the Torah, she said."As every Jew will tell you, I'm sure, we have to constantly remember and be aware of the tragedy that happened," she said."We're such a small number of people that it's important that I keep remembering and that I pass that on to my children. It reminds me that I need to keep being a Jew. That I am, and my children are; and to keep us going as a people."For information about the Scripps Ranch class, call (858) 547-0076, ext 1216. For the Temecula class, call (951) 303-9576. Or visit the Web site at www.myjli.com.Contact staff writer Agnes Diggs at (760) 740-3511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.