On Sunday, November 26, hundreds of Jews, ranging in age from one to 90, came together to celebrate Jewish learning and culture at Limud Caracas, the first such gathering in Venezuela.
“It was thrilling to see grandparents, grandchildren, young adults, students, Sepharadim, Ashkenazim, secular, religious, people from every part of the community streaming in,” said Limud Caracas Steering Group Member Anabella G. de Jaroslavsky. “A big thank you to our mentors from Limud Buenos Aires and to our sponsors, the JDC, the Moral y Luces Herzl Bialik School, and Hebraica Caracas.”
Out of a population of 29 million, there are today 5-6,000 Jews in Venezuela, down from an estimated 20,000 in 1999. Many have emigrated to Israel, Miami and Spain, owing to the ongoing political, economic and personal security challenges.
“Despite many problems, we are more active than ever,” Jaroslavsky emphasized. “We have to take care of the spiritual health of the people in our very special community. Limmud feeds the soul of the members of Venezuelan communities. ”
The 25-member Limud Caracas steering committee and 80 volunteers produced a festival offering more than 30 sessions, on topics as diverse as Israel, tzedaka, Israeli film, cooking, art, and Yiddish, to name a few. Children and teenagers had a choice of two tracks. Leading Venezuelan comedian Laureano Marquez wrapped up the festival on a high note.
Limud Caracas embodies the organic spread of Limmud from community to community. Since the first Limud Buenos Aires 10 years ago, there are now Limmud communities in Mar del Plata, Bogota, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. The American Joint Jewish Distribution Committee has been a key partner in developing Limmud throughout Latin America.
“We heard about Limud Buenos Aires, Peru, Miami and we wanted to bring it here,” said Anita Katz, Limud Caraca spokesperson in English. “Limud adds new light and hope to our community. Today was marked by happiness and a different way for each participant to experience belonging to a people. It has been deeply meaningful.”