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Great Debates in Jewish History

Great Debates in Jewish History

Which side are you on?

Great debates in Jewish History


Debate is not only encouraged within Judaism but resides at the very heart of our history and theology. Great Debates in Jewish History explores six fundamental conflicts that pitted the greatest Jewish minds against each other—six instances of divergent perspectives, including several that are still debated today.


Discover stirring and surprising accounts that span two millennia of Jewish disputation, reflecting the panorama of Jewish history and its monumental political, ethical, and spiritual challenges. Encounter the gripping narratives of six fascinating eras, the intellectual tension and points of view they unearth, and the light they shed on the most fundamental of Jewish beliefs.


Six Tuesday Evenings
7:30–9:00 p.m.
Beginning October 31st, 2017


Six Wednesday Mornings
9:30-11:00 a.m.
Beginning November 1st, 2017 


Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta

134 Forge Road SE

Calgary AB  T2H 0S8


$115 (textbook included)

Couples discount: $210!

Join the first class free (with no obligation to continue)


Call: 403.281.3770


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Course Overview


Unlock the secret of the Dead Sea Scrolls by contrasting their writings with Talmudic texts, and unearth a fundamental debate about rabbinic authority and interpretation. What led the Dead Sea Sect to break away from the Temple and the Jewish establishment? What were their theological views? And why were they so opposed to the Pharisaic approach?


Glimpse into the minds of those who took their lives at Masada in 73 CE. Discover a view of Judaism that believes it cannot survive without autonomy in Israel and prefers to die rather than live under a foreign nation’s rule. What role does nationalism play in Judaism? What is the Jewish perspective on taking up arms when defeat is inevitable?


In the 13th century, Maimonides’s major philosophical work, the Guide for the Perplexed, was banned and even burned. Condemnation of his writings divided the Jewish world: Is rationalism an acceptable approach to Divine worship? What role does reason play in Judaism? And how do we resolve the conflict between faith and reason?


In the wake of Spanish expulsion came a proposal to reinstate the Sanhedrin, in an effort to herald the messianic era. The idea catapulted the Jewish world into a frenzy: some with jubilation, others with uproar and outrage. Can we force the Divine hand to hasten the redemption? Should we? And what about recent attempts at renewing the Sanhedrin?


In the 1700s, the Ba’al Shem Tov introduced a focus on joy, prayer, and the simple Jew’s relationship with G‑d. But this endeavor was met with resistance. What motivated Chasidism’s opponents? What issues lay at the heart of the debate? And what historic tensions set the stage for this upheaval that divided families and communities?


A 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, permitting public menorah displays, deeply divided the Jewish world. Is religion designed to be a personal and private affair, or one to be paraded in the public domain? What presents a greater challenge to Judaism: the supremacy of a conflicting religion, or the predominance of irreligiosity? Where does Judaism stand on the separation of church and state?

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The Calgary JLI
(Jewish Learning Institute)
134 Forge Rd SE
Calgary AB T2H 0S8
Dedicate a class!
Contact Rabbi Groner
for more information.
Thank you for visiting the new - home of The Calgary JLI!
Upcoming events
Oct. 19, 2017
Part of Torah Studies Season 1
Oct. 26, 2017
Part of Torah Studies Season 1
Oct. 31, 2017
Part One of Great Debates in Jewish History: Which side are you on?
Nov. 01, 2017
Part One of Great Debates in Jewish History: Which side are you on?
Nov. 02, 2017
Part of Torah Studies Season 1
Nov. 07, 2017
Part Two of Great Debates in Jewish History: Which side are you on?