(Courtesy of Chabad of West Orange) This February, Rabbi Mendy Kasowitz of Chabad of West Orange will offer “Crime and Consequence,” a new six-session course by the acclaimed Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) exploring 3000 years of Jewish perspective on conviction, sentencing and criminal rehabilitation.
Beginning Monday, February 4, at 7:30 p.m., participants in the course will challenge their thinking, ponder the implications of ancient Talmudic wisdom for complex modern cases and get to the heart of the most pressing injustices facing our criminal justice system today.
“DNA testing is proving that we’ve been convicting innocent people. When we incarcerate first-time offenders, we’re turning them into hardened criminals. Known murderers are able to walk free on a technicality. How can we stand by and remain silent to these serious flaws in our criminal justice system?” said Rabbi Kasowitz, the local JLI Instructor. “I believe the first step is for us, as a community, to acknowledge the issues and explore possible solutions. And can you think of a better place to look for guidance than Judaism’s wisdom of the ages?”
Participants in the course will ponder foundational questions: What is the goal of criminal punishment—to gain retribution for the victim, to keep criminals off the streets and safeguard from future crime, to set an example and instill the fear of law or to rehabilitate the criminal and reintroduce him to society? Should we consider testimonies given in exchange for a reduced sentence as reliable evidence?
The course also boldly addresses society’s most serious sentencing questions: Is life without parole a justifiable penalty? May we sentence a person to death? When would these options be warranted? Is there a better way?
‘Crime and Consequence’ is for people who care deeply about humanity, who are enraged at injustice and who are fascinated by real-life catch-22 scenarios,” remarked Rabbi Zalman Abraham of JLI’s Brooklyn, New York, headquarters. “Participants in the course will uncover the humanity within all people—including criminals, question judicial practices that seem unethical and unfair and explore effective crime deterrents.”
“Crime and Consequence” is accredited in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, for attorneys and other law professionals to earn continuing education credits. Like all JLI programs, this course is designed for people at all levels of knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. All JLI courses are open to the public, and attendees need no prior affiliation.
Interested students may call 973-325-6311 or visit www.chabadwestorange.com/jli for registration and for other course-related information. JLI courses are presented in Chabad of West Orange, which is affiliated with Chabad of Essex and the Rabbinical College of America.