It was another excellent Limmud (Jewish Learning) conference held at Sonoma State University, Friday, June 26 – Sunday, June 28. New this year was a full Shabbat from erev to Havdallah.
Attending from B’nai Emunah were Bonnie and Martin Lindauer and Andrew Nusbaum. We stayed in the dorms so we could experience the full range of programming from 9:15 am through 9 to 10:00 p.m. Andrew presented two, well attended sessions: “Messiahs and Messianism in Jewish History” and “Jewish Gangsters in Europe and the Americas.”
What makes Limmud unique is the diversity of sessions to choose from in each of the four time blocks and the Jews attending: all ages and types, with Orthodox studying alongside with non-observant as well as Reform and Conservative Jews. Of course, there were separate services offered but everyone was welcome at any of the three. For those not interested in attending services, one could choose a guided morning walk, a session on yoga and meditation or Andrew’s session on Messiahs. Bonnie split her Shabbat morning between Andrew’s session and the egalitarian/Conservative davening.
Bonnie’s favorite sessions included: “Resilience in the Face of Extremism: Mishna, Maimonides and Heschel” (offered by Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan); “A Constitution for Israel,” “The Kotel — The Symbol of Unity or Division”? (both offered by Gilad Kariv, rabbi, politician and head of the Reform/Progressive movement in Israel); and a Jewish yoga class. Martin enjoyed the session on Jewish Ethics, offered by Rabbi David Kasher (one of the founders of Kevah) and “American Jewish Music in the Space Age.”
In addition to 90+ learning sessions to choose from, there were films, art activities, dance and poetry sessions, as well as three plenary sessions. The Sunday plenary was a fascinating panel of 30-something activists in Jerusalem (organized by Kolot), who are working to “lead a social and cultural renaissance in Jerusalem and developing a new vision for the city.” The kids had their own camp so that parents were free to fully participate, but families came together for the delicious meals catered by Dina’s Kosher Catering.
Andrew Nusbaum writes, “It was a real treat to experience the excitement, creativity and engagement during the three day Limmud Bay Area conference. Highlights for me included discussing engagement strategies (and pitfalls) with Jewish teens, studying Jewish philosophy with several notable teachers from Israel and the Bay Area, listening to a panel of speakers from Jerusalem talk about how to cultivate intra-Jewish dialogue, and of course, seeing my own two teaching sessions on Jewish messiahs and gangsters get so many attendees that we ran out of chairs! I was particularly impressed by how hard Limmud has worked to develop a space where all Jews (and non-Jews!) can feel comfortable, regardless of their political or religious perspectives. By offering a wide range of Shabbat worship opportunities as well as volunteer-driven programming (I am living proof that all that’s required to teach a class is an idea, some nerve, and access to a copy machine), Limmud helped encourage a welcoming and non-judgmental atmosphere that nudged people to push their personal boundaries while also giving them autonomy to craft their own experiences.”
Limmud will most likely be in June next year and at Sonoma State University, so start planning ahead for this extremely worthwhile learning community!