Chicago: The Uses and Abuses of Grief

October 17, 2023

In these extremely difficult times, we at Jewish Currents have been asking ourselves how we might bring our readers together into community, conversation, and relationship. Such community is, of course, not the only thing we need right now. There are protests, campaigns, and actions. But we also know that wherever we go in the weeks and years ahead, we are going to need each other.

To that end, we invite all subscribers in the Chicago area to an evening of learning. Together, we will turn to the texts of the Jewish tradition to wrestle with how we ought to respond to the suffering and violence of this moment, both personally and as a community.

The Uses and Abuses of Grief

What role does grieving have in response to Hamas’s attack on Israel last Saturday, and to Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza? (How) can we grieve Jewish lives lost, when such grieving can be utilized to justify Israeli war crimes? What constructive role might grieving have in our politics, beyond mere catharsis?

We will read biblical, rabbinic, and modern Jewish texts, exploring rich, positive accounts of the uses of grieving, while exploring the dangers as well. If we succeed, our learning together will also be an attempt to mourn together, on our terms. The learning will be in English and accessible regardless of educational background.

We invite you to join us tomorrow evening, Tuesday October 17th, in Chicago, for an evening of teaching and learning hosted by Jewish Currents contributing writer Raphael Magarik, professor at University of Illinois at Chicago. The doors will open at 6:30pm CT and the discussion will start at 7pm CT. Food will be provided.

Registration is open to all subscribers of Jewish Currents, with each subscriber eligible to bring up to two guests. Registration will be capped at 75 participants.

Please note: When you go to enter your information on the registration page (name, email address, etc.), it will look as if there are not text fields available. The text fields are the same color as the background; if you click below each field title, you will be able to enter your information. We will correct this issue shortly, but did not want to delay.

Location: Sketchpad, 4411 N. Ravenswood, Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60640. The building has two concrete steps up out front, with a portable ramp available. (If you would like to use the ramp, send us a note to the email address below.) The space can be accessed by an elevator or going up two flights of stairs. All bathrooms are gender neutral; there is one wheelchair accessible bathroom in the front, directly across from the elevator. Additionally, note that the open space can get chilly, so we recommend layering clothing.

This event will be mask-optional. We encourage taking a Covid-19 test beforehand, and wearing a mask in the space, to support those at higher risk in our community. If you are experience syptoms of an illness, please do not attend.

If you would like to use the portable ramp for assistance, or have any further questions on accessibility or accomodations, please email

Raphael Magarik is an assistant professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a contributing writer at Jewish Currents.