Where does the soul go after it departs this world?

The Jewish Learning Institute's newest course examines the soul and its journey through ancient and eye-opening Talmudic teachings

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Some questions are universal to the human experience. Is there life after death? What happens to the soul after we die? What is it like for those who have traveled over to the Great Beyond? These are but a few of the questions addressed in the newest course from the Jewish Learning Institute (JLI).

Beginning Oct. 28, JLI will present The Journey of the Soul, the institute's new six-session fall course.

Rabbi Mendy Gurkov, of Chabad Jewish Center Upper Passaic County, will conduct the six course sessions at 7:30 p.m. on six Wednesdays, beginning Oct. 28 and continuing through Dec. 2 at Chabad Jewish Center, located at 1069 Ringwood Ave, Suite 315, Haskell, NJ 07420.

"There's a significant amount of confusion in the Jewish community about what happens to us when we die," said Rabbi Mendy Gurkov, the JLI instructor. "Many ideas that originate in other religions and belief systems have been popularized in the media and are taken for granted by unassuming Jews. In Journey of the Soul, we clear up these misconceptions and introduce an authentically Jewish approach which is both surprising and refreshing."

Journey of the Soul provides spiritual insight into the soul's journey through life, death and beyond, as well as ancient Jewish wisdom that sheds light on the philosophical, emotional and practical aspects of coping with death and mourning.

"Science knows very little about the soul and what happens to it post-mortem," Gurkov said. "It's about what is truly valuable and meaningful in life which is relevant to everyone, and many in Upper Passaic County have expressed their curiosity to learn about the topic, so we're expecting a good turnout."

Sheldon Solomon, a professor at Skidmore College who co-authored “The Worm at the Core: On the role of Death in Life,” is one of several experts in the field to comment on the course.

"This course strikes me as a very fine juxtaposition of ancient theological wisdom with contemporary empirical science,” he said. “My sense is that this will be an interesting and rewarding educational and personal experience."

Similar sentiments were expressed by Jeff Greenberg, a professor at the University of Arizona; Dr. Casey Skvorc, from the National Institutes of Health; Pamela Blair, co-author of “I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye;” and Bianca Nogrady, author of “The End: The Human Experience of Death.”

The course is being offered in joint sponsorship with the Washington School of Psychiatry, enabling medical and mental health professionals to earn up to 7.5 AMA, APA, CBBS and ASWB continuing education credits for their participation.

Like all previous JLI programs, Journey of the Soul is designed to appeal to people at all levels of Jewish knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. All JLI courses are open to the public, and attendees need not be affiliated with a particular synagogue, temple, or other house of worship.

Interested students may call 201-696-7609 or visit JewishHighlands.org for registration and other course-related information. JLI courses are presented in Upper Passaic County in conjunction with Chabad Jewish Center.

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