Can you imagine 2,500 Jews of every shape, size, age, belief, color, practice, political perspective and affiliation, all gathered in the same place to study, dance, drink, debate, perform and just celebrate the vibrant tapestry of Jewish life? Pretty hard to imagine and even harder actually to describe the reality of this phenomenal event from which I have just returned. Over thirty years ago, an inspired group of Jewish educators and their families escaped Christmas in London and other British cities to spend a week being and learning Jewish together for a week and created the first ever Limmud. Who could have dreamed that it would evolve into the largest residential, multi-day Jewish event in the world? I feel honored to have played a role in the UK’s Limmud Conference as co-chair in 1997 and 1998 and seeing the event pass the 1,000 participant mark for the first time. At a certain point, the Limmud brand became viral!
During the five days of Limmud, some 400 presenters lead about 800 sessions on every aspect of cultural, religious and political life, including this year representatives from Britain’s large Muslim community, creating the possibility for panels of rabbis and imams engaged in dialogue. There were some stunning performances, including Kosher Gospel and Girls in Trouble; film screenings and art projects, as well as a tremendously vibrant night life in the bar and disco until the early hours of the morning before the programme starts all over again. Session titles ranged from “Racist Rabbis and the State That Ignores Them” to “Scandals of the Talmud: the Stories They Wouldn’t Teach You in Cheder” to “How Has the Arab Spring Really Changed the Middle East and Israel’s Security Situation?” to name just a few out of the hundreds.
Limmud “the Mothership” has inspired Jewish communities all over the world, and according to Limmud’s Chair, my old friend Carolyn Bogush, there is now a Limmud event somewhere in the world every week of the year! Even in Colorado. In fact, Limmud Colorado is coming up really soon on Saturday night January 21 and all day Sunday January 22 in Denver. Check it out at limmudcolorado.org.
Even though we Jews of Boulder are lucky and blessed to be part of a community where there is so much collaboration between the different shuls and organizations, across denominational and political boundaries, there is still something so powerful about being in an environment where all of those labels that can divide us and box us in disappear and we are just one unique community of Jews celebrating our diversity in a space where we all have a place, a voice, something to learn and something to teach.
If, like me, you suffer from FOMO Syndrome (fear of missing out) then you will want to join in the action and be at the most exciting event in Colorado’s Jewish calendar later this month.