By Larisa Popovskaya
The Moscow Limmud 2016 Conference assembled together an unprecedented 2000 participants for its tenth anniversary on 14-16 April. The number was so great that two hotels were one hundred percent booked with Limmud participants: this was the first time that Limmud FSU has attracted such an enormous number of people.
Limmud FSU Russia’s new project manager Anna Adamskaya was supported by the Moscow organizing team; and Limmud FSU chairman and founder, Chaim Chesler, executive director Roman Kogan and Galina Rybnikova, the Ukraine project manager, all came to help and celebrate the anniversary.
The Moscow Limmud traditionally starts on Thursday evening with dinner, the first sessions and concerts. The Limmudniks were welcomed by the huge white letters of the word “Limmud” in Russian, by the front door of the hotel. Participants thronged the hotel lobby and besieged the registration desk. This year participants received a list of sessions and a mobile app for full information. In addition, a special Limmud anniversary book with 30 articles by Limmud presenters was published. A FAQ-quest, bingo and a secret friend game, a photo booth, babysitting facilities and even recycle bins were among the innovations of Limmud 2016. Participants were stunned by the number of people. Boris Kriuchkov, a participant from Moscow, said: “This tenth Limmud is enormous. So many people! Limmud has grown up and has really become international. The only thing that could make me even happier would be if Limmud could take place in the summer with open air sessions.”
But, of course, the main thing about Limmud is the content. Well-known journalists, politicians, writers, translators, cartoonists, painters, poets, genealogists, economists, educators, historians, rabbis and many others came to Limmud to share their knowledge and experience with the eager Muscovites. Among them were screenwriter and TV hostess Avdotya Smirnova, Russian writer Liudmila Ulitskaya, journalist Vladimir Pozner, the American kosher gospel singer Joshua Nelson, film critic Anton Dolin, journalist and blogger Anton Nosik, politician Leonid Gozman, journalist and editor of the Ekho Moskvy radio station, Aleksey Venediktov, the chief rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar and dozens of others. One of the presenters, Stanislav Smelianskiy, a poet and head of a PR agency who has attended ten Limmud conferences in the past said: “This anniversary Limmud is the most massive I have ever visited. Limmud is a unique event – so many intelligent people gathered in one place. It fills my heart with joy.”
Academic, religious, political, economic and entertainment sessions, workshops, concerts and dances provided an unforgettable explosion of learning, music and fun. The Conference concluded with Yiddish-Fest, where a choir of participants sang together with Joshua Nelson, accompanied by an international klezmer band.
Moscow Limmud is a pioneering event in many ways. It is innovative, amusing, audience-oriented and with a high-grade program, and it is clear that this quality event can be created in other places. As some of you may know, Limmud FSU Europe will be born in February 2017. Limmud Moscow welcomed 11 representatives of Limmud FSU Europe who arrived to learn all the secrets of the Moscow team. Semyon Dovzhik, the chair of the Limmud FSU Europe organizing committee and a presenter in Moscow 2016, has attended several Limmud conferences before. “The Moscow team is awesome and Limmud has evolved a lot since the first one in 2007. The volunteer organizers are brilliant. We have come here to study how everything works and ask questions. We have launched our website and more than 100 people applied during the first two days. Russian-speaking Jews in Europe have high expectations for our Limmud which will take place in London, because we don`t have anything comparable.”
Limmud Moscow 2016 is not the only event celebrating its first decade. Limmud FSU Ukraine will be taking place in Lviv in November and will surely be a blast. We hope to see you there!