Gershon Baskin from the Israel / Palestine Centre for Research and Information gave a gripping blow by blow account of the process of negotiating the release of Gilad Schalit in which he was intimately involved at the Limmud Oz.Sydney’s Limmud-Oz 2013 was the biggest ever, attracting more than 1200 participants including over 200 presenters from across Sydney, 17 presenters from overseas and 20 travelling from interstate to spend two and a half days of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend at UNSW.
Over 100 volunteers from across the community added their time to make this an incredible cross-communal event.
This year there was an expanded children’s program streamed into three age groups reflecting the record number of younger families engaging with the Limmud experience. The program included arts, Krav Maga, music, sports and dynamic informal learning sessions to keep the young Limmudniks entertained while their parents enjoyed the adult program.
The packed program of lectures, discussions and performances contained numerous highlights.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive”, organiser Michael Misrachi said. “The extraordinary thing about Limmud-Oz is the way it brings together people from across the community – left and right, religious and secular, young and old – to engage in and talk about ideas and issues facing the Jewish community and world in a meaningful way”.
While Deborah Conway soothed in Sunday evening with some of her ballads from her recently released album, Stories of Ghosts, Prince of Kosher Gospel Joshua Nelson brought the crowds to their feet on Sunday night with their unique blend of Jewish liturgy and the sounds and vibes of American gospel and motown music. It was an uplifting, high energy performance that had the audience clapping, singing and dancing.
Gershon Baskin from the Israel / Palestine Centre for Research and Information gave a gripping blow by blow account of the process of negotiating the release of Gilad Schalit in which he was intimately involved.
Audiences grew and grew for Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, who inspired participants with his innovative and visionary approach to Jewish thought and practice.
Phillip Chester, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, gave a fascinating account of the challenges and trends in the Zionist community.
For those needing a break from the more cerebral options there were sessions on film, yoga, theatre, meditation and comedy.
Peter Slezak’s presence and presentation turned out to be a storm in a teacup with the vast majority of attendees supporting the Limmud Board’s structured approach and position around presenter selection. The Limmud Board put out a statement to all attendees which stated that “As a Board, we have not bowed to that pressure [to remove people from the program]. We will continue to be guided by the Limmud principles, and we will continue to make the case that Limmud is needed in this community as an open and safe and inclusive place for the entire Jewish community that allows everyone to take one further step on their Jewish journey.” In addition, while the Board remains open to ongoing dialogue on these issues, it has not made any decisions regarding future Limmud events or any commitments to anyone regarding future Limmud events.
Misrachi told J-Wire: ” What was especially encouraging was the noticeable increase in the involvement of young adults. They enjoyed listening to the broad array od presenters who came to Sydney from Israel, the United States, South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina.”
Limmud-Oz ran 185 sessions. Misrachi added: “It was wonderful to see so many engaging in discussions of Jewish substance in a meaningful way…from all viewpoints. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,”
But it was not only presenters who travelled to Sydney. Present at the event were members of the Perth Queensland, Adelaide and Melbourne communities.
Limmud-Oz was first presented in 1999.