Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Limmud NY 2013: Eat, Pray, Learn

How can I squeeze four days of learning and fun into one (rather belated) post?  I suppose I could start with a list of the featured presenters, several of whose presentations I saw and several of whose presentations I would have liked to see.  One of the challenges of attending a Limmud Conference is that there's always so much going on and so much overlap on the schedule that it's impossible to get to every presentation or activity that one wants to get to.

Some highlights:
  • A wonderful Kabbalat Service with lots of singing.  The baal tefillah/prayer leader invited those interested to come to the middle of the room with him and form an impromptu choir.  I was there in a heartbeat!  I love singing harmony.  And the baalat tefillah who took over for Maariv added more singing than usual, as well.  (There were plenty of other options for Erev Shabbat/Sabbath Eve services in addition to the Traditional Egalitarian one that I attended, ranging from "Musical" to Carlebach Orthodox to Contemplative to Renewal, and morning minyanim included Hashkamah/early-risers Orthodox; "Slow-Down;" Orthodox with male leaders; Orthodox with male and, when permissible, female leaders; trad-egal; and Reform, since Limmud makes it a point to be inclusive.)
  • Daniel Gordis' presentation on  The Promise of Israel and Its Underappreciated Message to Humankind, which drew a substantial crowd.
  • Steven Bayme's presentation Reason & Faith: Contemporary Biblical Criticism and Its Impact Upon Traditional Belief, from which you could have made a minyan with just the people sitting on the floor in the too-small room.
  • Daniel Gordis' presentation on Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: What Does Conversion to Judaism Really Represent?, which also drew a large crowd.
  • Deborah Dash Moore's presentation American Jewish Identity Politics, wonderful in itself (sample:  the American Jewish community loved the UN after World War II but became disillusioned after the passage of the "Zionism is racism" resolution), but also enhanced by the very-much-welcomed and relevant comments of Lilith founder and editor Susan Weidman Schneider and Deborah Lipstadt, presenter of Holocaust Denial: A Clear and Present Danger? from the second-to-last row.  I told the two of them that we should always be blessed with such a "back of the beis (bet midrash/study house)."
  • Shlomit and RebbeSoul's performance, The Seal of Solomon: The New Wave of Jewish World Music, a delightful combination of Yemenite singing paired with balalaika playing.
  • An impromptu and informal "jam session" after the above concert, when a bunch of regular folks got together outside of the dining room with guitars, a banjo, a saxophone, a drum, a drum-set cymbal, a violin, and a lot of voices and sang, from what we later heard, into the wee hours of the night.  (My husband and I turned into pumpkins and left just after midnight, following a rousing round of "Hey Jude!" in which yours truly sang harmony.)
  • Ethan Tucker's presentation Can You Do a Quick Transgression For Me? , a discussion of where and why we draw the line regarding committing one sin to avoid having another person commit a greater one.
  • Last but not least, having been re-scheduled for Monday after lunch, Brian Gelfand's performance, Sundays in June: A Cabaret by a Jewish Wedding Singer, provided a wonderful sample of his talent as a singer/songwriter and keyboard player and a fun ending to a fine weekend.
And those are just the presentations that I got to!  I missed probably six or seven that I wanted to attend due to scheduling overlaps or hanging out too long after meals.

If you can attend a Limmud conference--Limmud started in the UK, but it's worldwide, these days--I would strongly recommend it.

Saturday, March 9, 2013, 9:41 PM update:
My apologies to Andrew Silow-Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Jewish News, for having unknowingly borrowed the title of his own Limmud NY 2013 Conference article.  I just saw the link a few minutes ago on the Limmud NY 2013 In the News page.  I assure you, Mr. Silow-Carroll, that no copyright infringement was intended, and I hope that none is perceived.



Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

It sounds great. Are audio recordings of the various lectures available?

Wed Feb 27, 07:36:00 PM 2013  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Sorry, Larry, but I don't remember ever having seen recording equipment in any Limmud presentation. To the best of my knowledge, only the folks who are present at a specific presentation get to hear that presentation. So you can't even hear a presentation that you missed while you were attending another presentation, unless you send someone else in with a personal recording device.

Thu Feb 28, 10:43:00 AM 2013  

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