The Uses and Abuses of Grief

October 25, 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 readers in the NYC area to an evening of learning, hosted by Jewish Currents contributor Raphael Magarik, professor at University of Illinois at Chicago. 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 on October 7th, and to Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza? How best to 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.

Registration for this event is free for all subscribers of Jewish Currents, with each subscriber eligible to bring two guests. Registration will be capped at 125 participants.

This event will take place in-person at St. Mark’s Church, at 131 E. 10th Street in Manhattan (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues), with generosity from the Poetry Project. Doors will open at 7pm ET and the discussion will start at 7:30pm ET. Snacks will be provided.

St. Mark’s Church is wheelchair accessible through the main entrance on 10th street, near 2nd Avenue. Any staff member of Jewish Currents or Poetry Project can guide guests to wheelchair accessible all-gender bathrooms on the ground floor of the church, adjacent to the Parish Hall event space. To access the Parish Hall, attendees must pass through two sets of double doors and two single doors; the smallest of these doors at the end of the corridor is 28.5 inches wide.

Please take a Covid-19 test before arriving, to support those at higher risk in our community. Masks are encouraged, but not required. If you are experiencing symptoms of an illness, please do not attend. If you have any further questions on accessibility or accommodations, email us at

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