by Erica Lyons
Just hours before the first Limmud Hong Kong the majority of the community was still asking, what is Limmud? Yet, despite this (as well as the fact that only 25 people signed up prior to the event), the inaugural Limmud Hong Kong, sponsored by the Hong Kong Jewish Community Centre, drew participation from approximately 85 members of the community representing an incredible cross section.
For some it was the novelty of the event, for others it was the chance to be part of something bigger and connected to the larger Jewish world and for others it was the content offered. And for a few, though less inclined to admit it, it was the cocktail and dessert party or the more than gentle nudge from one of their organizer friends. Irrespective of the motivations of the participants, it was an incredible start to something big for this community.
The majority of the team of organizers, of which I was honored to have been a part of, attended and were inspired by the Great Wall Limmud held last year in Beijing and were eager to create an even more local version of this event back home in Hong Kong.
While traditional Limmud events tend to run from 1-3 days, this communal experiment was designed to run the course of one evening with two learning sessions, of three options each, followed by a cocktail party featuring live music. Here we learned about Maimonides and infected mushrooms, Talmud and tofu, but what we really learned, was that there is so much to learn from one another. We needn’t look further than our own friends and neighbors to source talent, knowledge, unique perspectives and creativity; our own innovative, diverse and engaging program was right here for us.
The presenters, other than Limmud co-founder Clive Lawton who was present to help generate interest in the spirit of Limmud were volunteers from Hong Kong, and while some happened to be Jewish communal professionals others included Isaac Goldstein, a non-dairy ice cream entrepreneur and Yael Bronner Rubin, a photographer who just completed her first solo exhibition.
It was refreshing in a community set in the heart of city that worships commercialism, rapid change and abundance; sometimes it is just a tried and tested yet simple formula that achieves success.
While some of us are gearing up for participation in the upcoming Limmud China in Shanghai, we are all already thinking about our next local Limmud. This is just the start for Hong Kong. This city is definitely one ready to trend.