Limmud S. Africa: Challenging the Establishment

a q. and a. with David Shneer, associate professor of history and director of Jewish Studies at University of Colorado at Boulder, on Limmud in South Africa

from mail & guardian online (S. Africa):

Jews on the move

The South African Jewish community hosts its third Limmud Conference in Sandton this weekend. In the rather conservative Jewish community the conference – devoted to such diverse subjects as spirituality, gender, social activism and the controversies surrounding Zionism – has stirred mixed emotions.

From its inception it has been discouraged by the local orthodox rabbinate …

MK: Whats your sense of the local Jewish community?
DS: To date I have only seen the Cape Town community and to be fair this is the community that is opting to come to Limmud and I have been to conferences in New York, in the United Kingdom, in Sweden, in Colorado and now this one here in South Africa and each one is a little bit different.

The politics of the conference is different in each place. In South Africa, I have discovered that the Limmud conference has challenged the established community. This is especially true of the Johannesburg Limmud that I will be at this weekend. There is apparently major friction between the established community and Limmud to the extent that most of orthodox individuals will not attend because the rabbis have said it is not good to attend Limmud.