by Dani Serlin

“Limmud’s Training on Tour programme was a wonderful opportunity to connect with participants from Limmudim around the world.
I learned so much from their experiences that I want to be able to bring back home!”
Sara Levy, Limmud Philly, Co-chair

Last week 30 participants from ten different Limmud communities across the US and Canada gathered to participate in the first “Limmud International Training on Tour Seminar”. The seminar was initiated, organised and run by Limmud International, a key project of the UK-based volunteer-led learning organisation Limmud.

Demonstrating the depth and geographical spread of the grass-roots cross-communal concept of Limmud transported from the UK, Limmudniks involved in this volunteer development seminar came from North American Limmud communities from far and wide, including Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, Limmud FSU Hamptons, and Winnipeg amongst others.

“By meeting people from all over the world and listening to their knowledge and experiences about Limmud, I feel part of something that can really make a difference in the lives of Jews in New Orleans. Limmud is unlike any other group or organization that I have ever been in involved with, and I am glad it found me!” Marisa Kahn, Limmud NOLA, first time volunteer

Limmud NY’s Sissy Block (pictured with Limmud International’s Clive Lawton, Dani Serlin, Uri Berkowitz and various participants) leading a session on using Social Media

The three day training seminar was part of an expansion of Limmud International’s training and support activities to around 60 communities around the world as well as a response to the need for Limmud volunteers to meet face to face with their peers more often, to share experiences and learn from each others’ challenges and innovations. Participants debated how to effectively implement Limmud’s values and create teachable moments and how to develop sustainable structures that empower and retain volunteers whilst recruiting new ones. Skills workshops around social media marketing and fundraising were also a key part of the learning taking place.

Ed Sitver, a Limmud Colorado Board member said: “I was relieved to learn other Limmuds face many of the same challenges as we do in Colorado. The seminar provided the motivation and support for a group of dedicated Limmudniks to work through our challenges as a group, and to come up with real solutions that are truly Limmudy.”

Hosted by Limmud Atlanta+SE at the stunning Tumbling Waters Retreat and Conference Center in Clayton, Georgia, the Limmudniks also participated the Limmud Atlanta+SE LimmudFest weekend which immediately followed the seminar. During the LimmudFest they had the opportunity to experience some hands-on volunteering as well as plenty of learning ‘lishma’. The benefits were felt both by the seminar participants and the LimmudFest Atlanta+SE team: “This was our largest Limmud Atlanta + SE event yet and being able to use it as a chance for our volunteers to learn and share with other North American Limmud and Limmud International was incredible.” Said Eric Robbins, Limmud Atlanta+SE Chair of the Board, “It was transforming to us to be able to be immersed in what’s core to Limmud both right before and while implementing our conference at the same time. The relationships our volunteers formed with other Limmud volunteers and Limmud International has already helped strengthen what we have here. This needs to be an annual event!”

Uri Berkowitz, Co-Chair of Limmud International and one of the international trainers, said, “We will continue our tailor-made training for each Limmud group separately wherever it is; but as in all Limmud things, there’s always even more to be gained by bringing people together who might not otherwise meet – especially our most dedicated volunteers. I’ve recently led training programs for Limmud in Montreal and Budapest; but this new regional initiative gives us a whole new dimension to work with.”

The next gathering of Limmud activists from round the world will take place at the annual Limmud Conference in the UK at the end of December. Amongst the 2,500 participants expected at the week-long highlight of the global Limmud calendar (see limmud.org/conference for more information) are over 150 volunteers from over 50 different Limmud communities around the world. These Limmudnikim will participate in a series of “Taking Limmud Home” sessions throughout the main Conference, as well as having the opportunity to network, learn from each other and experience the original Limmud event that has inspired the worldwide phenomenon.

Helena Miller, Co-Chair of Limmud International laid out future plans for this leadership training tour. “In future years, we plan to do similar training seminars in Europe, Israel, and the southern Hemisphere, to help support and develop the leadership of Limmud groups in the five continents across the globe where they exist. Support from visionary foundations such as the Schusterman Foundation, Pears Foundation and Rothschild Foundation Europe are enabling these crucial initiatives to happen”

Dani Serlin is Limmud International Projects Coordinator.

For further information on the Limmud organization and upcoming events around the globe, visit limmudinternational.org and contact Dani Serlin (Limmud International Co-ordinator: dani@limmud.org 0044-203115-1620)

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