An Israeli Experiences Limmud NY

by Regev Ben David

While being very active in the area of Jewish renewal in Israel for several years now, I only heard the name Limmud for the first time during ROI summit 2011 – but there I heard it over and over and over.

So when LimmudNY approached and I was fortunate to obtain ROI’s Micro Grant to participate in my first Limmud, I tried to contribute back by volunteering in several positions (which definitely seems to be the great spirit of the conference) and by giving three workshops.

Even though I heard many good things, what I found there was above and beyond my expectations: it was an exciting, vibrant, and vital celebration of Judaism and Jewishness in all of its forms, colors and sounds; a huge collection (over 600 participants) of open-minded and welcoming people which were great company for talking, for spontaneous jamming, and for text study.

I offered to lead sessions in the topics which are in my areas of interest and which I thought that might be relevant for the participants – cultural Judaism (non-religious Jewish identity) and religious-secular dialogue among Jews in Israel – issues which I have been dealing with over the last few years in such organizations as Ein Prat, Gesher, the Tikvah Fund and more. In addition to these two sessions, I had the honor of participating in a fascinating panel which was organized by ROIer Liz Nord concerning Women’s Rights in Israel.

The experience of sharing my views in 75-minute sessions in English with dozens of listeners (many of which were very active participants, to my delight) was exciting for me and I learned a lot from it. It also led the way to many interesting conversations with people during the whole weekend which followed. In fact, I would highly recommend for new participants in Limmud to lead workshops, as it is a great conversation-trigger.

Finally, one of the great things about such an event is that so many of its participants actually live near-by, so I get to continue to meet many of them on a regular basis now.

To sum up, and at the risk of being perceived as naive, for me LimmudNY was an explosion of interest, creativity and identity, expressed in every possible area from serious and profound text study, through schmoozing and openness, and to Jewish yoga and prayer chants.

Regev Ben David, Israel, works on cultural Judaism and religious-secular dialogue as part of the Ein Prat Academy alumni community and as facilitator with “Gesher” Educational Projects. Blog:

Connected by the ROI Community of Jewish Innovators.