This year’s Limmud Vancouver takes place April 14-15 at Beth Israel. (photo from Limmud Vancouver)
Limmud Vancouver will be holding its fourth conference April 14-15 at Congregation Beth Israel. The Vancouver program is one of 80 Limmud gatherings around the world, which have developed since Limmud was first founded in the United Kingdom in 1980. Non-denominational and multi-generational, Limmud’s goal is to take participants one step further on their Jewish journey.
Limmud Vancouver opens with a Saturday night event, starting at 7 p.m., that features three diverse presentations. Susan Barocas, the chef and writer who organized President Barack Obama’s Pesach seders, speaks on Tastes Across the Centuries: The Enduring Influence of the Foods of Spain’s Medieval Jews. Laura Duhan-Kaplan, rabbi emerita of Or Shalom and director of inter-religious studies at Vancouver School of Theology, presents Sacred Texts: Three Religious Traditions in Twenty-Five Words or Less. Avi Dolgin, a retired educator who has a longstanding interest in Jewish ritual and midrash – and who also was the founder and first chair of Limmud Vancouver – presents Yonah ben Amitai, Inc.: A Dramatized Midrash. Havdalah and refreshments follow.
On Sunday, the Limmud “buffet” offers a wide variety of speakers, topics and formats. During the day, beginning at 9:30 a.m., there will be five time-slots, with eight presentations in each slot, on subjects such as arts and culture, history, social issues, Israel, healing, spirituality and Torah. Gloria Levi will speak on aging as an opportunity to cultivate wisdom, Dr. Efrat El-Hanany on antisemitic stereotypes in Western art, and Rabbi Binyomin Bitton on a lawsuit about the ownership of valuable manuscripts confiscated by the Nazis. Attendees can participate in Rabbi Susan Shamash’s presentation on women in 19th-century Eastern Europe, in Alden Solovy’s liturgical chevruta and in Miriam Libicki’s talk on cartooning as a way of exploring identity. They can learn from Rabbi Adam Rubin about the revival of the Hebrew language, from Gordon Cherry about Toronto’s antisemitic Christie Pits riot and from Joelle Lake about an enigmatic Qumran scroll found in the Cairo geniza. Current events will be covered in Alycia Fridkin’s presentation on Jewish LGBTQ issues and Rebecca Denham’s session on Jewish addiction community services. There are descriptions of all 40 presentations and speakers at limmudvancouver.ca.
Children and youth programming has been enhanced this year. Limmud collaborates with PJ Library on a session for ages 3-7, with local educators on sessions for kids 8-12, and with the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby on an inter-religious exchange for high school students. Also showcased this year is a children’s hamsa project, dedicated to Ruth Hess Dolgin, z”l, through whom Limmud Vancouver came about.
After attending a Limmud event in Europe, Ruth Dolgin had begun preparations for a Vancouver version when she became ill and, sadly, died, in 2012. Her husband, Avi Dolgin, has carried on with her work. Ruth Dolgin loved and collected hamsas, which have been seen as a symbol of protection and good luck throughout many cultures. Each of the presentation rooms will have a display of hamsa art created by students from the community’s Jewish day schools and after-school programs.
The conference fee is $75 (with special pricing for ages 36 and under). Registration can take place online at limmudvancouver.ca or by phone at 778-776-9215. The fee includes a kosher dairy lunch. In addition to the children’s programs, childcare is available on site, staffed by experienced members of the Habonim Dror Ken Achva.
Limmud gatherings around the world are committed to the egalitarian spirit of volunteerism – all of the organizers and presenters are volunteers, and none of the presenters receives an honorarium. Limmud is funded through donations, and Limmud Vancouver thanks its individual donors, as well as the Snider and Schusterman foundations.
Elizabeth Nicholls is a volunteer with Limmud Vancouver.