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Today’s tensions in the Middle East are apparent to anyone, but there are very old rivalries that you might not know about. The cultural clashes between the religions of ancient Israel, Greece and Rome — and how each of the empires approached worship — will be explored on April 24 in the first session in the Jewish Learning Institute’s six-week Spring semester.

“It’s not only looking at what happened in retrospect, but being able to see what the outcome was and how we’re dealing with the same struggles today,” said Rabbi Levi Kaplan, the instructor, who also teaches eighth-grade Judaic studies at Oholei Torah school in Crown Heights.

Every Thursday, Kaplan will lead students in the interactive class — he calls it a “roundtable discussion” designed to get students curious and involved — as they cover topics including “Anti-Semitism in Medieval Christian Europe” and “The Downfall of Spanish Jewry.”

“These classes are very challenging intellectu­ally,” Rabbi Kaplan added. “There’s really a lot going on.”

“Cultures in Collision: Israel vs. Greece and Rome” will take place at 7:45 pm on April 24 at Congregation B’nai Jacob (401 Ninth St., at Sixth Avenue in Park Slope). $72 for the semester. For information, call (718) 877-3528 or visit www.myjli.com.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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