Conference Blog

The Limmud Conference Blog is a space to get a behind-the-scenes view of how Conference is planned and run.

Conference 2015: a short guide for the perplexed

Published: 20/12/15

Co-written by: Emma Breger (Marketing & Communications Chair) and Michael Wohl (handbooknik)

Just one week to go until Conference 2015! Whether you’re a first timer or you’ve been coming for years, Conference can be a little overwhelming. We asked around for some top tips for getting the most out of Conference. Here are some of our favourites:

Volunteer

This is a great way to feel truly part of Conference. Whether you are helping to give someone directions, schlepping chairs, or doing at shift on the helpdesk, every contribution both small and large is worthwhile. Without our volunteers, Conference simply wouldn’t happen.

Meet someone new

There are over 2500 people at Conference and we bet you don’t know them all! There are plenty of opportunities to meet new people. Take your pick from the social programme, or just say hello to the person next to you in a session or while you’re waiting in the dinner queue. After all, the best sessions are usually spread by word of mouth, so join the conversation and don’t get left out.

Plan ahead (but leave room for spontaneity)

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the vast programme, and it simply won’t be possible to attend every single session that catches your fancy. To help you choose, we’ve split sessions into themes and by style, which will be clearly marked. Whatever you decide, please show respect to the presenter and try not to arrive at sessions late, or leave before the end.

Remember to check for daily updates

There is no such thing as the final version of the Limmud Conference programme. There will always be some last minute changes, so please bear that in mind. Keep on top of things by downloading the Guidebook App to your phone/tablet and scan the QR code on page 20 of the handbook to load our programme. Remember to check for updates of the App. For a printed version of what’s changed each day, daily update sheets will also be available from the helpdesk every day during Conference.

Try something new

Conference is your opportunity to try something a little different. If you always wanted to learn about medieval Hebrew manuscripts, practice your dance moves, try your hand at making cocktails, or gain a better understanding of Israeli politics – now is your chance. Take a step outside your comfort zone; who knows where it could take you...

Give yourself a break

Don’t go to too many sessions! Take time to catch your breath and take in the special Limmud atmosphere. It isn’t very often that over 2500 people come together to celebrate all things Jewish.

Get some fresh air

You’ll probably notice that our new site surrounds the picturesque Pendigo Lake. Go for a wander, but please be careful as it will be cold and icy outside (remember its December folks!)

Take Limmud home with you

… and continue your Jewish journey. Conference is just one of many Limmud events that run through the year – so when it’s over, there’s still plenty to look forward to. Keep an eye on our website for details of everything else we do. And finally … it’s not a conference, it’s well over 2500 conferences.

Some people run from session to session from early morning to late at night; others go to no sessions at all, but sit and schmooze all day. You might want to concentrate entirely on one particular interest, or you might want to find new inspiration from unexpected directions. The choice is yours. Just make sure you enjoy, and don’t forget to tweet us your highlights @Limmud

Classical music at Limmud

Published: 15/12/15

Written by: Abigail Dolan (music volunteer)

Do you like listening to classical music? Enjoy singing in a choir? Ever wanted to play in an orchestra? All of these and more are on offer this year at Limmud!

I originally planned to give an overview of the musical programme, but quickly realised one blog wouldn’t be enough. So here I focus on the opportunities for music-making, listening to and learning about the ‘Classical’ repertoire. What I mean by ‘Classical’ is a topic for a different blog in a different context. However, I can promise you, some of the opportunities for music-making at Limmud this year are at the forefront of making the ‘Classical’ repertoire the most engaging and exciting experience possible!

Limmud Orchestra

A new and exciting initiative this year is a Limmud orchestra. It will be open to experienced players (grade 6 and above) AND complete beginners on laptops, using some cutting edge, experimental technology called the Orchestra Nova. In a nutshell, the instrumentalists will play their parts alongside the laptopists, who will be in charge of an instrument through tapping their laptops, all following the conductor (symphonist) Shelley Katz, and accompanied by the virtual instruments.

Sounds like science fiction? It is, to some extent, but great fun, I can tell you from experience, especially as we’ll be playing in virtual acoustics, which will turn the hotel room into a beautiful concert hall! The repertoire includes Mussorgsky’s captivating Night on Bald Mountain, and the much-loved Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp with harpist Rivka Gottlieb and myself for the solo parts. This promises to be not only great fun but an opportunity to be part of a pioneering project. Download the scores here. Places are limited, so do register your interest.

When: There are five rehearsals and a final performance: Sunday 20:50-22:00; Monday 09:20-10:20 and 14:50-16:00; Tuesday 12:10-13:10; Wednesday 09:20-10:20 and performance 14:50-16:00. Laptopists MUST come and bring their laptops to, the Pre-Session Setup that will take next to the registration desk following registration.

Limmud Choir

Join the Limmud choir led by Gregory Ser for an engaging and inclusive singing experience. All levels and types of voice (sopranos, mezzos, altos, tenors, baritones, basses) are welcome. Better at listening than sight-reading? Do come! There will be three sessions followed by a potential closing gala.

When: Tuesday 13:30 - 14:30 and 18:55 - 19:55; Wednesday 12:10 - 13:10

We have three recitals on offer this year:

The London Jewish Male Choir in concert

Joseph Finlay and London Jewish Male Choir will perform a diverse programme including liturgical music, musical theatre, Yiddish film scores, folksongs and contemporary Jewish compositions (Tuesday 18:55 - 19:55).

A recital for flute and piano

I will be joining David Dolan for a chamber music programme of some of the master-pieces for flute and piano, including J.S. Bach’s Sonata in E minor, Schumann’s Romances opus 94, and the best-loved flute sonata by Francis Poulenc. More details on www.abigaildolan.com/ and you can watch us play (Tuesday 17:40 - 18:40).

Harping on...

Juilliard graduate, music therapist and harpist Rivka Gottlieb will be playing a relaxing and informal recital, taking us on a journey through the sound-world of the harp, with a few surprises along the way. Watch Rivka’s performances (Wednesday 18:55 - 19:55).

And finally...

...look out for David Dolan’s session on Wednesday morning. David is one of the world’s leading forces in the revival of Classical Improvisation. He explores how improvisation in Classical music-making fuses the thinking process with immediate and intuitive response, similar to the use of musical elements in speech intonation.

Plus, Stuart Lewis and Robert Brody will also be exploring Jewish connections in classical music.

There are many other musical opportunities to listen, participate and learn. I hope you’ll join us!

Food Glorious Food!!!

Published: 08/12/15

Written by: Steve Weller (Catering Co-Chair)

With all the excitement of the move to the new site, and some of the other wonderful new initiatives that the site move brings, it is my honour and pleasure to tell you about something that is staying the same (with some slight tweaks!!).

As in 2014, Limmud is delighted to be working with Celia Clyne Banqueting as the caterers for Limmud Conference 2015. For those of you who attended last year I am sure you will agree Celia and her team did a wonderful job and they are all incredibly excited to be involved again. The menu has been modified using the experience and feedback from last year to help take another step forward on your Limmud food journey.

As in previous years the main dining room will be dairy, however each evening we will also have a meat dining room (restricted to one meal per person for the week - look out for your ticket in your welcome pack) and a late night meat bar to make sure you still get your fix.

All dietary requirements have been thought about and the menu has been planned specifically to make sure that we meet as many different dietary needs and requirements as possible. All the food will be clearly labelled and we will this year be introducing a Catering Helpdesk which you will find in the main dining room so someone is there to assist you if you have any questions.

However we can only work to the information we have so please please please (that’s enough begging!) make sure you have mentioned any specific dietary requirements you have on your application form. If we have any questions, or if there is something about your specific request we need more information on one of our amazing team will be in touch.

So what are the slight tweaks I hear you shout? Well one tweak is due to the new site, and that is that we have one large dining room in the main hotel and one in the families’ hotel. The main dining room in The Hilton is very large and regularly hosts dining events for up to 1000 people, so there will be plenty of space for everyone.

We can’t wait to see and feed you all in a few weeks’ time!

If you would like to contact us, or have any questions please email conf15-catering[at]limmud.org

Limmud Chavruta Project 2015 - War and Peace

Published: 18/11/15

Written by: Hannah Skolnick and Joe Grabiner (Chavruta Co-Chairs)

The Limmud Chavruta Project is one of Limmud’s oldest and best loved projects. From Ahava (Love) to Food, Money to Creativity, over the years the Chavruta book has covered so many fascinating topics. This year we are marking its 20th publication, and we are thrilled to announce our theme, ‘War and Peace’.

The theme sparks immediate debate. Is Judaism a religion of peace? How must a Jew behave in war? Are there multiple truths in peace? Can one be at peace with those they disagree with in society? How many times is it acceptable to quote Tolstoy? This year’s Chavruta book gets to the very heart of some hugely important issues as we trace a narrative starting with War and moving forward to Peace. Together we will first explore the notion of enemies, revenge, and conflict in the community. Then we will interrogate methods of peace building, compromise and Interfaith engagement.

Beyond these timeless issues there are many pertinent links with our own reality. From terrorism on the streets of Europe, to the desire for a lasting peace in Israel / Palestine, and the conflicts that exist in our own Jewish communities. War is rarely out of the news, and peace all too often falls by the wayside. The conversations contained in our book are live and inspire vibrant discussion within our tradition. Though often written many hundreds of years ago, our texts have a huge amount to add to our contemporary debates on these issues.

The book has come together over the course of this year. We have been joined by four fantastic teams from across the Limmud International family; South Africa, New York, Israel and London. Our contributors have joined us from across a magnificent Intra and Inter-religious spectrum. We have gained insights and sources from a German Islamic theologian and an Ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva Bocher from the Mir in Jerusalem, and countless others in between. We are proud that the Chavruta project unites our Limmud community in the shared pursuit of finding life, joy, and inspiration in the study of our texts.

There is so much to look forward to.

At Conference this year we have entirely revamped the layout for the Chavruta Project. We’re kicking off with an amazing launch party on Sunday 27th December at 4.20 pm where we’ll be studying the first section of the book, ‘War and Conflict’. We will be exploring whether there must be a time for war? What happens when siblings fight? We will be asking who is the enemy? Then, as Conference progresses we will learning the rest of the section, ‘Making War’, ‘Making Peace’ and ‘Keeping Peace’. For the first time, our primary Chavruta slot will be over lunchtime (1.30 - 2.30) everyday, though there will also be Early-Bird and Night Owl options to suits everyone’s tastes.

So come one, come all. The gates of learning are open. See you at the Limmud Chavruta Project 2015.

One step further on your Jewish journey

Published: 08/11/15

Written by: Matt Herman (Resources Co-Chair)

Limmud's motto is "taking you one step further on your Jewish journey." If you've been on conference in the past, you'll undoubtedly recognise it from posters and banners in every room. And if you're going on conference this year, you'll be pleased to know this is one of many great things that will be the same at our new home. What you may not realise, though, is that this motto is not limited to the one or two weeks a year that we spend on Limmud events. It is a mantra that Limmud actions throughout the year.

One of the great things about being on the conference steering group has been the investment that Limmud has made in us, to ensure that we not only grow into our positions and ensure that conference is the best event that it can possibly be, but that over the year we are taking the next steps on our Jewish journey.

It was thanks to this commitment that Limmud supported me, through their Volunteer Fund, to take part in opportUNITY, a gathering of young Jewish Professionals from across Europe, organised by JDC and the Lynn and Charles Schusterman Family Foundation. The gathering was focused around personal and career development and there were three main aspects to the programme:

  1. Building up a network of peers across Europe. It was fascinating to learn more about Jewish life in places as diverse as Thessaloniki (Greece), Budapest and Berlin. As well as the inevitable differences, we share a lot in common, not least a recognition of how amazing Limmud Conference UK is.

  2. A series of highly entertaining speakers. Maybe some of them will be at a Limmud event in the future?

  3. One on one coaching sessions. Coaching is a practice where you work through a question or issue with a coach and, rather than being given advice, the coach guides you until you reach a solution yourself. I worked with my coach to help me better manage the different opportunities and roles that I take on in my voluntary life. Together, we were able to articulate the skills, values and features that were important to me. As I move forward, the 'decision matrix' that I'm now developing will be invaluable in helping me to take further steps on my Jewish journey.

No single aspect of the gathering was standalone or a one-off event. Rather, as the skills we've gained and the connections we've made propel us forward, the hope is that we'll be able to contribute to our own communities while also building a stronger, pan-European Jewish community.

At our steering group's first meeting, back in February, we were all asked what it was we wanted to personally gain out of being on the steering group. At the time, I struggled to answer the question. After all, volunteering's about giving to others, isn;t it? Now, as conference gets even closer, the list of what I've personally gained grows and grows. And if you ask me in 3 months time, I'm sure it will be even longer. Volunteering for Limmud has certainly helped take me one step further on my Jewish journey.

If you haven't signed up for Conference 2015 yet, I'd urge you to do so now, if you have, think about what it is that you can do to volunteer and ensure that you too are taking the next steps on your Jewish journey.

Book Club is Back!

Published: 25/10/15

The focus of Conference is, of course, on Jewish learning. But you’ll never be stuck for things to do outside formal sessions, because Conference is also about relaxing, meeting new people, renewing friendships and plain good times.

This year the Limmud Conference Book Club is back. Our daily book club provides a chance for all book lovers to meet, chat and share insights. Dealing with one novel a day, we will discuss our favourite extracts, characters and theories - for both those who have already read the book and those who haven't but would like to find out more.

The titles this year are:

Metamorphoses by Franz Kafka (Sunday)

Kafka’s classic story of the man who woke up to find he’d been transformed into a gigantic bug is celebrating its centenary.

Lost in Translation by Eva Hoffman (Monday)

Eva Hoffman’s highly acclaimed memoir of emigration, 20th century history and life in a new language. Hoffman will be presenting at conference this year.

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (Tuesday)

In 2011, Levy’s evocative tale of creativity, isolation and loss was nominated for both Wingate and Man Booker awards.

J by Howard Jacobson (Wednesday)

Published last year, a ferociously witty dystopian novel by literary prize favorite Howard Jacobson.

The most accessible Conference yet

Published: 11/10/15

Written by: Dan Heller and Dan Simons (Participant Care Co-Chairs)

As Limmud Conference makes the big bold move to a new site this year, Dan and I (also Dan), your Participant Care co-chairs, thought it would be a good idea to go and check out the site from an accessibility and inclusion perspective. The big move will hopefully herald an exciting new chapter for Limmud Conference; but, from a participant care perspective, it presents us with both some considerable opportunities and a few challenges. For that reason, and in order to make the most of our visit, three volunteers kindly gave up their Sunday to join us for what turned out to be an informative, thought-provoking, thoroughly productive, and, most importantly, enjoyable day.

Let us tell you a little bit about participant care, accessibility and inclusion at Limmud Conference 2015. Firstly, the new site has its programming space almost entirely under one roof. This means less getting lost and less distance to travel between sessions, which we hope will be a big bonus for those with mobility challenges. Not only that, but all the hotels we are using for accommodation are wheelchair -friendly; and, apart from one little bit which we are working on, all access is on the flat.

After visiting the new venue, Juliet Landau-Pope, who has Charcot-Marie-Tooth (a neurological illness that limits mobility), and a long-time Limmudnik, shared a positive perspective:

“Much as I loved the campus atmosphere at Warwick, many Limmudniks found it difficult at times to walk from one building to another, especially in wet and/or icy conditions. It’ll be much easier for everyone to get around the new site in Birmingham and there’ll be plenty of parking outside the hotel for blue-badge holders.”

From our visit, a couple of big things we agreed on were that we are going to need to give people more opportunities to explore the site, with sessions such as Campus Sat Nav, and very clear colour coding. We know it can be confusing going to a new site, but we're fairly confident that, with a bit of help, we'll all get the hang of it within a few hours!

Getting to Conference should also be fairly straightforward. There is a train station, Birmingham International, a 15 minute walk away from the main hotels. We will have people guiding you in the right direction to make sure you don't get lost (think of the Games-Makers at the London 2012 Olympics - we're aiming for something like that!). Furthermore, as always, we will be operating coaches from a number of locations (further details to be confirmed); and for those who prefer to drive, there are a number of parking spaces on-site. For those who do choose to drive, please consider bringing as many people as you can fit in your cars. This can help to maximise parking spaces, help those who might otherwise struggle to get to Limmud by themselves and reduce our impact on the environment. We will still have a number of ways to connect with other people about arranging car-shares, such as the car-sharing forum on the Limmud website and using social media.

Social inclusion is a big theme for us this year: Limmud Conference is a huge event and can feel overwhelming. For some people who come to Conference, this can make it an unpleasant experience. For others, it stops them from coming in the first place. We would like understand some of these experiences and have enlisted the help of some great volunteers to help us address some of the issues. There are a few volunteers on the team who have taken on this theme to work on and we hope that their solutions will convince people to come and will improve everybody's experience.

Of course, a great way to meet people at Limmud Conference is to volunteer, so we highly recommend contacting our Volunteers Chairs Hannah and Natan. Alternatively, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch either via the office or on conf15-participantcare@limmud.org.

Looking for love? Limmud Shidduch service has launched

Published: 27.09.15

Written by: Ruthie Jacobs and Josh Coplee (Accommodation Co-Chairs)

Booking for Limmud Conference 2015 is now officially opened! And so begins the main task of your accommodation Co-Chairs. Josh and I (Ruthie) have the rather challenging job of making sure everyone has a room (and ideally the right room) when they get to conference. Although we don’t accept bribes, not officially anyway, if you bump into us or send us an email, feel free to attempt to flatter us into giving you the best rooms.

However, no need to worry. At the new site, every room is an upgrade from last year. Apologies to those who enjoyed the morning dash to the shared bathrooms, this year everyone will have an en-suite! As the bookings start coming in, Josh and I will be working hard to make sure everyone’s room requirements, requests and special needs are taken into account to ensure that your grandma doesn’t end up sleeping next to the visiting rap bands*.

A new dimension this year for conference are the four different hotels people can book into. The Hilton, Crowne Plaza (families), Resorts world and the Ramada. Make sure you read the descriptions on the website before deciding which to book into. Josh and I will be monitoring bookings carefully to make sure everyone gets the room they have booked into. Last year we had around 2,500 people come to Limmud and we will be making sure everyone is in the right hotel, right room, for the right days. Many hours on a spreadsheet await. Don’t worry, Josh likes to double check these things.

This year we are officially launching the Limmud Shidduch service. Don’t get too excited though, for the real Shidduch you’ll need to head to the bar around half 11 on Wednesday night…However as the majority of rooms are now shared, your accommodation co-chairs will be pairing up people who opt to share a room with someone they don’t know. Whether you are coming alone, want to make a new friend or all your friends snore/hog the bathroom, this is a great opportunity to get to know someone new during conference. We will be working carefully to ensure you get paired up with someone that we think you will have a great time with.

Also part of the accommodation team are Richard, Ben and Luz who are working on registration and arrivals to make sure that when you first arrive to the new site it is as smooth as possible. Richard has been hard at work drawing up technical diagrams and sorting those much coveted Limmud badges. Ben and Luz are drawing on lessons from the Olympics to make sure your arrival at the site is both welcoming and gets you excited for conference. Sadly the Queen won’t be in attendance (she hasn’t currently booked), but hopefully their giant foam hands will be a handy replacement.

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any specific requests/requirements or just make sure they are on your application form. We are getting excited about conference and we hope you are too!

*Disclaimer: I have no idea if there are any visiting rap bands.

Welcome to Conference 2015 - we're moving, come join us!

Published: 13.09.15.

Written by: Mike Gladstone (Co-Chair, Conference 2015)

Shana Tova! Applications for Limmud Conference 2015 are now open and hundreds of people have already applied. Early bird prices end on 24th September so if you haven’t booked yet, stop reading, and book now to take advantage of our best rates. Or, if you need more convincing, read on to find out more about what’s in store this year!

What is Limmud Conference?

Bringing together over 2,500 people of all ages and from across the globe, Limmud Conference is a week long festival of Jewish learning which is run entirely by volunteers. Conference offers something for everyone - whether you want to debate burning contemporary issues, jam with a band, study Torah, create art, or renew old friendships and build new ones - there's something for you.

What’s changing this year?

For 35 years, Limmud has been taking us all one step further on our Jewish journeys. This year we’re taking Conference the next step on its journey and moving to an amazing new site at Pendigo Lake, just outside Birmingham, UK.

The main programme will take place at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole, of which we have exclusive use throughout Limmud Conference. You’ll almost be able to roll out of bed into your first session and back again at the end of the day, and, if the weather’s bad, there will be no need to put on your rain coat and wellies to get from one session to the next. #thumbsup

The Hilton has a variety of bedroom types, so whether you’re coming with a partner, a group of friends, or on your own there’s an option for you. Transport there and back is also simple: there’s lots of free parking for those who wish to drive, and the site is a short distance from Birmingham International airport & train station (though remember if you’re coming for Shabbat Limmud there are no trains running on 25th December!)

If you’re bringing your family to Conference, you’ll stay at the nearby Crowne Plaza hotel, a short walk from the Hilton, where the family dining room, our Young & Teen Limmud programme, and the Limmud Nursery will all be located. We have exclusive use of this hotel too.

We’re also offering accommodation in two other hotels, an Economy option at the nearby Ibis Styles hotel, and Premium bedrooms at the brand new Resorts World Genting hotel. All the hotels are within a 10-minute walk of one another. If you’re not sure which to choose, our handy accommodation selection tool can help, or get in touch with the Limmud office who can also advise.

What’s staying the same?

Despite upgrading our accommodation offer from student dorms to 4 * hotels, the entry price for Limmud Conference is only £9 more than last (or, as one of the team informs me, less than 2.5% more expensive). We are extremely proud to be keeping prices in line with last year and we are committed to ensuring Conference is as accessible as possible in this regard. We hope with the amazing programme, accommodation and food that’s on offer, you will feel Limmud Conference 2015 represents good value for money.

In addition to upgrading our venue, the programme promises to be as good as ever. Our programming volunteers are working away lining up world-class presenters from the UK, Europe, Israel and across the world. You can find more details on some of the amazing speakers already confirmed on the Limmud Conference website and on our article from this week’s Jewish Chronicle. As everyone at Limmud can be a presenter as well as a participant, if you want to present a session, just tick the box on your application form, and the team will be in touch.

Food: we are proud of the work done last year with Celia Clyne Banqueting to improve the dining experience at Conference. The feedback we received was very positive and we are thrilled to be working again with Celia, Mark & their team to make this year’s food and dining arrangements even better than last. If you’ve got particular dietary requirements, make sure you outline them on your application form, and get in touch with our Catering team for any other food-related questions or concerns.

Ok, so who’s organising this all?

We are lucky to lead an amazing team of committed, talented and creative volunteers who, alongside busy work and personal lives, are putting in hours of time without payment to organise this year’s Limmud Conference. Everything mentioned above – the programme, the accommodation allocation, the transport, the food, the marketing, the provision for families and kids, and everything else –is organised by volunteers. If you can help either before or during Conference, or want to know how you can get involved, contact our Volunteers team who will be happy to tell you what’s available.

And so…

Our team are working incredibly hard to make Conference the same warm, welcoming environment. Now all we need is you. Take advantage of our early bird offers and book your place at the biggest (and we think best) Jewish festival in the world. If you want to get involved, or have any questions, get in touch with us via the Limmud office or by email. You can also contact us on on Twitter and Facebook.

See you in December...

Michael Gladstone, Claire Samuel & Jo Ish-Horowicz Chairs, Limmud Conference 2015 Conf15-chairs[at]limmud.org


2014 blog

Ten #Limmud reflections - by @RobinMoss

Borrowed off Twitter

1. What makes #Limmud remarkable is the unique and intoxicating cocktail of a community of learning and an atmosphere of diversity

2. The three best presenters at #Limmud I saw this year were, without question, @GilaFine, @almareisel and @JoelMHoffman

3. My two favourite #Limmud sessions: i) @GilaFine's last object in the Talmud (a masterclass) ii) "four broiguses" on Motzei Shabbat

4. Two Israel educators/activists with very different views who made me think hard on #Limmud were @gershonbaskin and Evelyn Gordon

5. The #Limmud food, by universal acclaim, was fantastic. The choice of @CeliaClyne was inspired. Best dish: the sweet and sour fish

6. The appearance of @chiefrabbi at #Limmud was notable for its normality – it is no longer "a story". This is excellent news

7. There was an awful lot of sniping at Liberal Zionism at #Limmud from the left, but almost none from the right. Not sure why

8. The overall #Limmud programme was outstanding, but too big. Having 35+ options in one slot leads to some very small audiences

9. New Year's Eve on #Limmud is an experience not to be missed. The ball pool and UV disco were particular highlights

10. #Limmud is, without question, the single best thing we do as a British Jewish community, and long may it continue

Continue the conversation online with #limmud

The views expressed here are entirely those of the author and not of Limmud as an organisation

Next Shabbat - from Michelle, your Shabbat Co-Chair

Helping to organise Shabbat Limmud at Conference this year has been a challenging experience. Shabbat is often cited by many participants as a highlight of their Limmud week – a gentle introduction to the full on energy of main Conference and an uplifting experience regardless of whether you regularly keep Shabbat or may never participate in any Shabbat activities throughout the rest of the year.

And yet, despite its reputation, helping organise Shabbat at Conference this year has been a challenging experience. What exactly are the ingredients that make the weekend so special? Are these things which one can organise or plan? Or are they simply the result of everyone on the day contributing in their own meaningful ways to the overall experience.

This year we've really tried to enhance the best of the Limmud Shabbat activities: a welcoming candle lighting, atmospheric communal Friday night dinner, celebratory Oneg, a range of Seudah Shlishit options and the always memorable Havdallah.

Our theme this year is 'Give it a Rest' because while we know that Shabbat is about fantastic learning sessions, we are also conscious that people want to use Shabbat to relax, unwind, reflect and get to know others.

We hope that this year the weekend provides that space, to give one's jobs, daily stresses, outside pressures and external demands a rest, and really embrace all that the Shabbat programme has to offer. We hope you'll be joining us.

Limmud launches marketing in Ivrit to target Israelis in the UK

The Limmud Conference team have launched Limmud UK's first attempts to specifically target Israelis living in the UK.

With an estimated 12,000 Israelis living in the UK, Limmud has launched a marketing campaign to attract this audience to the annual Limmud Conference - a chance for people from across the Jewish world to meet in a setting which is cross-communal, and crossing the religious and political spectrum.

Limmud Conference Co-Chair Shana Boltin explained: "_Limmud encourages everybody to take one step further on their Jewish journey. We regularly host leading figures in Israeli entertainment and media circles, as well as political and religious figures. This year is no exception, and we hope that the outstanding array of presenters attracts this group to Limmud Conference." _

Be part of the action

Leaders wanted for Young and Teen Limmud

Do you want an active part in running a fun and varied programme for children and teenagers?

Want to be part of a great team, meeting new people and contributing to an incredible conference?

Are you looking for an opportunity to expand your existing Hadracha (leadership) skillset?

Do you want the chance to work with kids? Or perhaps to work with kids of a different age?

Do you want an active part in running Limmud?

Are you looking to improve your leadership skills and increase your experience of working with young people?

Have finished school and are over 18?

If any of this sounds like you, be in touch!

Other perks: Training weekend, accommodation, meals and you'll get your evenings free on an incredible international Conference - sessions go on until 1am, bar and great music until even later!

If you have any questions, please be in touch - email us at the address below. If you're interested in being a Madrich/a or Rosh on Young and Teen Limmud, download the application form here and email it to conf14-ytl@limmud.org.

We look forward to getting your applications!

Alice

Young and Teen Limmud Chair

Food for thought...

The Chavruta Project is a staple of Limmud Conference and this year it is going to be even tastier than usual! From the most experienced Limmudnik to the curious first timer, there really will be something for everyone.

Chavruta is a regular Conference favourite. Every year hundreds of people take part in 'paired' learning, exploring Jewish texts on a particular theme with a partner. This year the theme will be focusing on a particular Jewish obsession – the hottest topic on every Limmud Conference – 'Food'.

Volunteers from around the Limmud globe have been working hard all year round to create a source book which will challenge and provoke discussion. The book contains a variety of traditional and modern sources exploring the relationship between food and spirituality, ritual, hunger and sustainability. From Leviticus to the Lorax and from Maimonides to the Matrix, there are sources to make you think, sources to make you giggle and sources that might make you angry.

For starters, the classic Morning Chavruta and Midnight Chavruta sessions return this year, but we are always searching for new ways to give exposure to the project. As such, this year on Conference Limmud is offering even more ways to get involved with the Chavruta project. There will be a main course of study sessions in the Beit Midrash led by the volunteers who created the book – plus for desert we will be introducing special "Chavruta in the Spotlight" panels, where Limmud's top presenters will each share an insight from their favourite texts before inviting their fellow panellists to join the conversation.

The Chavruta Project truly embodies some of the most important values that Limmud as an organisation stands for and we hope you'll come and find out what it is all about this year. We look forward to meeting you and learning with you over the course of Conference and Shabbat (the perfect Hors D'oeuvre). There have never been so many opportunities to be part of the learning, and we know that once you get a taste for it there will be no stopping you coming back for seconds.

Sam Grant

Limmud Chavruta Project Co-chair 2014

Who's who in the Limmud Office

Rachel is working with the Programming team to support all of our presenters, specifically coordinating the logistics of bringing over 100 international presenters. Amy prefers vowels to consonants.

Meriel is working on processing enquiries from over 2,500 participants, working with individuals and organisations to deal with participants in the build up to Conference. She will be working closely with the YADS and volunteers teams, Young and Teen Limmud, Inclusion, Shabbat, Catering and Participant Care teams. Miriam wanted to be in the circus when she grew up, but currently works in the Limmud office.

Debby deals with Limmud's finances and receives all initial email enquiries sent to the Limmud Officer. She works with the Conference Resources team to order everything in advance and with the Finance team to ensure we pay for it. Debby is a big fan of palindromes – she's super happy that we're in 5775.

Robby is responsible for communications and technical support in the Limmud Office, as well as being an all-round macher. She will provide a sizeable amount of the Handbook content. The fastest she has ever driven through a width restriction is 42mph.

Shelley is the Executive Director of Limmud, and works with the Chairs, Comms, Health and Programming teams for Conference. Shelley dreamt she was teaching about self-esteem using characters from the Wizard of Oz to explore different concepts. She then went on to actually teach the dream to a group of young people. The session was seen by a parent, who asked Shelley to teach it at a Sing-along Wizard of Oz event. She did and Shelley's Wizard of Oz session was reported in the Guardian, the Telegraph and on Radio 4. Shelley also spoke about the session on the BBC world service and LBC. Shelley has run the session at Limmud Conference 3 times and truly believes there's no place like home.

If you have any questions feel free to email them on office@limmud.org or give them a call

New presenters announced

A slam poet, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations, the man credited with engineering Gilad Shalit's release and the historian that defeated holocaust denier David Irving are just some of the exciting array of presenters unveiled by the Limmud Programming Team.

The confirmed roster of presenters promises to offer something for everyone, with the programme themed around 5 core tracks:

  • Social Action & Community
  • Social & Performance
  • Arts & Culture
  • Religion & Philosophy
  • History, Politics & Society

Commenting on the programme, Limmud Conference 2014 Co-Chair Jonathan Robinson said: "We're extremely excited to be lining up a smorgasbord of different presenters from across the Jewish world. Our Programming Team have worked hard to line up the very best educators and presenters, and we cannot wait to unveil the full programme over the coming months"

The full list of presenters and brief biographies are available here

_Shana tova from the Limmud Conference team _

With 100 days to go to Conference 2015, the blog returns

A message from your Conference Chairs

When asked to write the opening blog post for Limmud Conference 2014, it was difficult to decide what to write about and where to start. Motivations? What excites us? A call for (even more) volunteers? But as Limmud is all about taking people one step further on their Jewish journey, we thought we would share ours.

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Shana

I first heard about Limmud from my aunt, who was involved in Limmud Oz, back in the 1990's. Melbourne, Australia was one of the first places in the world which looked to replicate the Limmud model, and adapt it to the local community.

I was lucky enough to attend Mount Scopus College, where I received a strong Jewish education, and I also participated enthusiastically in my local youth movement. These influences, combined with my family upbringing, shaped my Jewish identity and framework into my early 20's.

Fast forward a few years to January 2009, when I moved to London. When looking for a share home, the first place I looked at had Limmud pens strewn across the floor, and I sensed right away that it was a home I would be happy to live in – and indeed I was. Throughout the year Limmud was a regular talking point and an event we all looked forward to. I was a YAD at my first conference in 2009, and from there took on various volunteer roles for both the Fest and Conference teams in the years to follow. For me, the opportunity to guide and lead this year's team, is a natural progression.

Jonathan

I have a different Limmud story. While for many years I was aware of Limmud and had many friends passionately involved, I had managed to avoid it until a chance lunch in Jerusalem in January 2011 started me on a journey I could never have imagined.

I was persuaded to attend Fest later that summer, and so began my Limmud journey. It was everything I had expected it to be and more…I loved the feeling of community, inclusiveness and acceptance, learning and laughter. Fest led to Conference 2011.

As bowled over as I was with Fest, Conference took a bit longer to get into. No matter how often Limmudniks sat around my Shabbat table, I could never quite imagine becoming involved. Then one day I saw a random posting on Facebook looking for a catering co-chair for Conference. I couldn't resist replying – and the rest is history.

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Now with less than four months to go, we are both excited by the boundless energy and commitment of the 30 members of our team. We are excited by the creative programme, with high quality presenters from near and far. We are excited by the challenge of feeding 2500 people. We are excited about spending NYE together.

Above all, we are excited to be helping you take one step further on your Jewish journey.

Sign up today by clicking here

Sustainable sustainability

Promoting sustainability has been one of Limmud's core ideals for some time now. However, in practice, our behaviour has been inconsistent.

As a volunteer-led organisations, Limmud is shaped by the interests, personalities, and values of the individuals involved at any given time. When green-minded people are in leadership roles, green initiatives, such as recycling, are prevalent. When sustainability isn't a top priority, it tends to get overlooked.

Furstrated by our mixed experience of sustainable practice at Limmud events, a small team of volunteers challenged Limmud to take a more systematic and consistent approach to sustainability. We want to embed sustainability practice in Limmud. We want Limmud to consider the environmental and ethical consequences of their actions and identify ways to make positive change. We also wanted to ensure that volunteers are accountable for the decisions that they make - so that sustainable behaviour is an expectation not an option.

We took a strategy to the Limmud UK board, which set out a five-point plan targeting area where maximum impact could be made quite easily and bring about lasting change.

With the Board's support our policy proposal became a statement of intent. Limmud is now formally and publicly committed to:

  • Redistribute any leftover food from events to food banks and local charities
  • Make recycling the default setting for all events and not an optional extra
  • Consider the ethical and environmental consequences of all purchase decisions
  • Be transparent about resource purchase, use and waste
  • Conduct a sustainability audit on current environmental activity within the next 12 months

To lead the new drive, the position of Sustainability Chair was created. Lara Smallman accepted the role and, with volunteers' support, set about turning policy into reality.

To test the water, we approached Harrow Day Limmud organisers. Our aim was to reduce the amount of food waste generated by the event by encouraging redistribution of any leftovers to a local charity. They accepted our challenge and arranged for excess food to be delivered to a local homeless shelter.

Our first mission was a resounding success. Brimming with confidence, we turned our attention to the pinnacle of the Limmud UK calender - Conference.

We knew making Conference more sustainable was going to be a tough ask - but pulling it off could reap great rewards and have an impact at home and abroad.

We produced a practical guide detailing our five-point plan and ideas for how volunteers can put sustainability into practice. Each member of the Conference team was encouraged to consider what they could do differently and make a commitment to exploring sustainable options when planning for Conference.

The response has been overwhelming. The catering team are working with their suppliers to minimise food waste and redistribute leftovers. The Shabbat team have transformed used etrogim from Succot into besasim (spices) for havdallah to mark the end of Shabbat. Young and Teen Limmud are devoting a third of their programming to exploring sustainability. This year's signature Limmud bags and t-shirts will be made from Fairtrade fabrics and, for the first time, there will be a swap shop where participants can exchange pre-loved goods.

It's a positive start. Our job now is to make sure that sustainable practice is not just for Conference 2013, but for all Limmud events.

As Ecclesiastes (1:4) states: "One generation goes, another comes, but the earth remains the same forever."

We each have a responsibility to look after the world around us - both the natural environment and the people who inhabit it. By committing Limmud to making sustainability sustainable, we're making sure that successive generations of Limmudniks play their part in caring for and repairing the world.

Daniel Anderson, Margot Shatz, and Lara Smallman - Limmud Sustainability Team

Programming: One step further on your Jewish journey

It's exciting for us to see the programme go live after many months of planning, co-ordinating and scheduling.

From Jewish cooking of Southern India, to medieval Jewish philosophy, to Jews in space, to women's religious participation at the Kotel, to Jewish involvement in the Russian Revolution, to a Hebrew silent disco, to the mind of Midrash, to the future of philanthropy.

And, from same-sex marriage, to parenting workshops, to the political status of Judea and Samaria today, to a musical psalm composition workshop, to the question of who owns Jewish heritage, to illuminated Haggadot...we like to think that there will be sessions to take every participants one step further on their Jewish journeys.

We are launching several new programming initiatives this year. We have a series of European Jewish Life sessions focusing on Jewish life across Europe today, with an emphasis on hearing from activists and social entrepreneurs.

Our expanded and revamped Beit Midrash will offer vibrant chavruta study and interactive classes around the clock. In partnership with Paideia, we are running a Cafe of Ideas to explore some of the questions at the core of the Jewish lives we lead today.

The Families and Young & Teen Limmud schedules have been fully integrated with the timings of the full programme to avoid frustrating dead time for parents.

We will be livestreaming selected sessions from our biggest lecture hall to cater for potential over-demand at peak times.

And if all the 'noise' gets a bit much, you are welcome to take a breather and reflect in our Room of Silence - which will be open daily.

We're also delighted to welcome back old favourites, such as JDOV (the Jewish equivalent of TED), HaMakon (the Place for Wellbeing, Spirituality and Creativity), and a great selection of films from the UK Jewish Film Festival.

Enough said?

See you in two weeks....

Toni Rickenback and Harris Lorie, Limmud Conference 2013 programming co-chairs

Putting 'Limmudyness' in everything we do

Google has a special quality. Googlers (that's the folk who work there) call this Googleyness - the intangible properties of the Google environment without which it would just be any other workplace.

One online enthusiast describes it as a "mash-up of passion and drive that's hard to define but easy to spot". It creates their unique atmosphere and penetrates everything they do.

Google isn't the only place that enjoys this special x-factor. We think that Limmud has a similar quality, which we will refer to as Limmudyness. It's that thing that you can't quite put your finger on; the thing that causes countless Limmudniks to speak in excited, breathless superlative-rich sentences when talking about Conference. It's the hard-to-express answer to the question, "you're spending your winter holiday doing what? And you have to pay?"

This year we have a new team on the Limmud steering group - Team Ethos.

It's our job to make sure that Limmudyness is in full flow at Conference and that Limmud's values are echoed in everything we do. From your first steps up to the registration desk, your first drink the bar, dinner, sessions and your walk to your rooms (or short drive or shuttle bus journey to one of our off-site hotels!), we're looking at how we can make the Limmud experience as holistic as possible.

As one of the new teams that this year's Conference Chairs have introduced, we've spent a lot of time working out what an 'ethos' team actually does. We've been working with many different part of Limmud volunteer team to solve problems, innovate, and explore new ways to engage people in day-to-day life on Conference.

One of our big jobs is managing the transition that turns campus into Conference, creating space to sit, share and meet new people. Our volunteers are designing clever, creative, and thought-provoking decorations art installations, and additions to Limmud's social spaces to engage and inspire you all.

If you think you can tell us what Limmudyness is, and you've got a bit of a creative flair, then why not join the team? If any of this sounds interesting, then drop us an email to conf13-ethos@limmud.org


Creating the who's who of Conference

Published: 16/12/12

Written by: Rob Sassoon (Registration Chair 2012)

As this is being written, a small and highly dedicated crack team of volunteers are sitting in the Limmud office in North Finchley, preparing for one of the most important parts of Conference. No, not the programme.

We're printing the registration badges.

Every participant has their own name badge which they have to wear throughout Conference. It takes a whole day to print the badges and put them in envelopes which contain additional information about your room, your wifi codes and if you've ordered any extras from us such as a flask.

Limmud owns three specialist badge printers which take what's called a "ribbon" instead of a cartridge. Each ribbon prints exactly 500 badges in colour no matter what the content of a badge, and each badge takes about 20 seconds to print. Unfortunately, when we went to check the printers last night to make sure they were working, one of them seemed to have broken down so we're running on two printers, but no matter we will overcome this obstacle. These two printers will join us on Conference so we can print badges for people who book late or who lose their badge.

You will notice that registration on the event itself has moved from its previous location. As Warwick are refurbishing the familiar downstairs area in Rootes, we have moved to a temporary building next to the multi-storey car park, which has been named "Conference Reception". We'll be there on Friday, motzei Shabbat, Sunday and for checkout on Thursday. During the week we will be situated at the Helpdesk which is upstairs in the Students' Union (SU).

This is my second year chairing the registration team and I'm loving it just as much as last year. I'm being ably assisted by my three Registration Managers; Sam Brandman, Amy Kisber and Amelia Wiseman. They are all seasoned Limmudniks and I have absolute faith that they, and the rest of our friendly team, will be able to welcome you with a smile and send you on your way with nothing but positive vibes about Conference.

We look forward to being the first people to say to you, "Welcome to Conference!" next week.


Programming Conference? It's a Whole Lotta Love

Published: 12/12/12

Written by: Daniel Anderson (Programming Chair 2012)

Over 430 presenters, more than 1,000 sessions, and one new, super duper listings-orientated, full-colour handbook, packed full of everything you need to know to make the most of Conference 2012! Yes, Conference is, believe it or not, just over a week away! Of course, as Programming Chair, I have more than a vested interest, but then I think when you see what we have in store you too will feel equally excited.

Believe it or not, programming Conference doesn't just happen in the space of a few weeks, but over the course of the preceding year. In fact, I only took on the role of Chair in March, which was three months later than usual and, though I had some idea of what was required, nonetheless nothing can really quite prepare you for the sheer scale of the endeavour. It really is a quite phenomenal exercise. Indeed, it may well be a truism for those in the know, but nonetheless it regularly needs restating for those who are not, namely the vast majority of what you will see at Conference is the result of a dedicated and enthusiastic bunch of volunteers!

'Old, New, Borrowed, Blue' is an album by folk legends Fairport Convention, but aptly sums up what we have tried to achieve with the programme this year. For starters, we have a collaborative venture with the Jewish Museum, which has enabled us to bring to Conference the highly successful Judah Passow photographic exhibition, which explores Jewish identity in 21st Century Britain. If that doesn't quite tickle your fancy, we have a display on the famous Cairo Genizah, which highlights its history and findings, together with a series of related talks. And for those looking for something a little more spiritual, we have 'The Place of Being', run in conjunction with HaMakom: the Place for Wellbeing, Spirituality and Creativity, which is a dedicated space open throughout the week and will have a combination of meditative-themed activities and open space opportunities to nourish your inner soul.

For those looking for something a little more familiar, we have our perennial favourites such as Chavruta, which this year has an element of Pink Floyd about it - the theme being Money! Yeshivat Limmud returns, as does JDOV – the Jewish version of TED - with 12 exceptional speakers giving the talk of their lives.

Of course, Conference just wouldn't be Conference without its usual mix of high quality, stimulating, challenging and diverse sessions. And we deliver those aplenty. For that, I have to thank my whole team who have pulled out all the stops. We truly believe that there is something there for everyone.

On top of this you have, as I mentioned at the start, a brand new handbook with a listings-style approach, which we hope will help make Conference that much easier to navigate.

I can't wait – the question is, can you?


The vibrating pillows cannot be moved

Published: 19/11/12

Written by: Jonathan Brody(Accommodation Chair 2012)

Until I joined the team last year, accommodation was not an aspect of Conference to which I'd given a moment's thought.

I'd arrive at registration and be given a piece of paper bearing my room number, which I'd take to another desk in order to collect the key before heading to the room to drop my luggage off and start browsing the programme to see which sessions caught my eye. How the room number had found its way onto the piece of paper was never something I'd pause to consider.

Amongst the accommodation team's responsibilities is making sure everyone has a room number on their piece of paper. We also lead the task of making sure you're given the correct key at registration. "Smiling volunteers, with seemingly unlimited patience, answer the registrants' seemingly endless questions while offering them chocolates.

Work began in the early summer when we had to decide upon the short stay policy. Because of the way the bank holidays fall this year, this could not be the same as it usually is. After this, the prices could be set.

Something else that is different from previous years is the accommodation buildings Warwick are able to offer us. As a result, we have fewer bedrooms inside the eruv and none of them are in the shared bathroom category, which presents it challenges.

Once we had a confirmed (subject to change) list of bedrooms from Warwick, the next step was to set aside rooms for specific groups - the short stays, older families, madrichim, the CST and the caterer's staff.

Once that information was loaded into the database and the software updated about a month ago, the team (there are four of us) was ready to begin allocating rooms, which we've been doing in the Limmud office on the last few Monday evenings.

A simplistic way of describing the process is to say that we choose a room for everyone in the bedroom category for which they've paid. However, if you tell us you have mobility problems we'll allocate you a room as close as possible to the conference buildings as we can, if you booked as part of a group or have asked on your application to be near someone, we'll give you neighbouring rooms, if you've told us you have dietary requirements that mean you'll be bringing your own food we'll give you a room close to a kitchen.

Another challenge is that Warwick insists that we have designated fire marshals for every floor of every accommodation building. We don't yet have enough participants who've volunteered for the role. If you haven't yet volunteered and are able to help us out, please let the office know.

The allocation of rooms in Scarman to families is the responsibility of the families team, not ours.

During the last few months there haven't been many days when I haven't received at least one email from another member of the steering group or the Limmud office and I'm also in regular contact with Warwick.

Until last week I wasn't aware that there was such a thing as a vibrating pillow. Now I'm not only aware of their existence, I also know that they won't work if they're moved to a different bedroom.

If you're coming to conference (and if you're not, why aren't you?) I hope that you'll be happy with the bedroom we allocate you and enjoy the rest of your time with us.


Marketing Conference

Published: 11/11/12

Written by: Richard Verber (Communication and Marketing Chair 2012)

I'll make a deal with you. If you read all of this short blog, I'll give you a chance to win a free place at this year's Conference. Deal? OK, let's begin.

Marketing Limmud Conference 2012 has been a fascinating challenge. Marketing and communications have always interested me, but are not areas I have professional experience in. Still, being involved in Limmud is all about taking on new challenges which develop you personally and professionally.

It's arguably also pretty brave putting the task of marketing British Jewry's Edinburgh Festival in the hands of someone as naïve and inexperienced ans me, but fortunately I've been ably supported by my co-chair, Oliver Marcus. Even more importantly, nearly 2,000 people have already signed up (and that's before the price goes up in a few weeks – book now).

We've tried some new techniques for this year – competitions, blogs, better use of social media and tracking to see what works and what doesn't. We've also reduced the amount spent on printed mail-outs saving both charitable funds and the environment. So far, so good.

Top secret news hot-off-the-press is that we're also re-designing the handbook. The handbook contains all of the sessions and presenters as well as a whole host of information about how Conference works as well as lots of information about Limmud the organisation. It's going to be very pretty and will no doubt be on sale Ebay for vast sums of money in years to come.

It's not too late to book of course. And, as a special treat to reward you for reaching the end of this short spiel, here's an opportunity for you to enjoy Conference for free. Simply enter promotional code LC12SM when applying for your chance to win.*

*The winner of a £365 refund will be picked at random from participants that attended Conference in full (Sunday-Thursday). The draw will take place after Limmud Conference 2012.


Limmud L'Am – Making Sure Everyone Can Take One More Step

Published: 1/11/12

Written by: Abigail Jacobi (Limmud L'Am Chair 2012)

We are really excited that Limmud L'Am is running for the second time this year at Conference. The idea of Limmud L'Am, meaning Limmud "for the people", is to enable the inclusion of participants with learning disabilities in all Conference activities. Last year, 12 participants attended one day of Conference, and went to a variety of sessions, including a music workshop, jewellery making, panel discussions and sessions about disability rights. Participants came with their support workers, and were also assisted by a great team of YADs and volunteers who showed them around the site and helped them with any queries.

This year, we have made it possible for participants to attend Conference overnight, as well as for a day. Limmud L'Am participants will be at Conference on the Sunday and Monday. Working alongside a number of Jewish social care organisations, we have tried to build on the feedback we received from participants, such as tips about how to make the handbook easier to use – something we could all benefit from!

We are also working with the incredible Conference programming team to ensure that as many sessions as possible are accessible for participants with learning disabilities and/or sensory impairments. Also, look out for sessions about disability rights and inclusion, especially a very exciting panel with internationally renowned presenters discussing these issues.

We are really excited to be part of Limmud L'Am, as we are keen to enable everyone to feel welcomed in the Limmud community.


Limmud Conference – for people who care.

Published: 18/10/12

Written by: Justin Copitch (Participant Care Chair 2012)

Participant Care is all about your Limmud experience – making sure that participants are happy, healthy and getting the help they need. We have been working hard over the last few months to ensure that everyone enjoys this conference even more than every one before it.

Part of our job is making arrangements for participants with disabilities and special needs. We are excited that this year, we are working, together with the Limmud L'am team so that even more people can enjoy Limmud conference to the fullest extent. We're ready and listening for all your queries prior to conference and will do as much as possible to prepare in advance for any personal requirements you may have.

Much of our work builds on the success of our predecessors but there have been some changes to the site at Warwick that have been keeping us busy! This week, we've been making exciting alternative preparations for the helpdesk and social spaces so that this year we will have new and improved areas for you to relax and socialize.

When you arrive at conference it can sometimes be a bit daunting with crowds and unfamiliar faces. We'll be running sessions for first timers, and our daily coffee and shmooze sessions in the Terrace Bar will be the perfect place for anyone who wants to meet new people on conference. Don't forget, there will always be friendly people from our team available to answer your questions and sign you up to social sessions at the help desk.

We've been working with the programming team and some wonderful volunteers to create a varied programme of informal sessions where you can have fun and meet people, including cookery, book club, games, crafternoon tea, and dance – if you have a skill that you want to share with others on Limmud in a social session, then let us know!

We're also coordinating 'social spaces', that's the bar and hang out areas to you and me. One exciting development for this year is that we are planning on having 2 bar spaces available so that if you don't fancy the hussle and bussle of the main bar area there will be somewhere quieter to relax and have a drink with friends. We'll also be revitalizing the acoustic café so make sure you bring your voices, instruments and creativity!

There are still more, new social activities that we hope to be offering on Limmud this year but you'll have to wait until closer to the time for more details to be released.

Conference is fast approaching –time to start getting excited!


We know you don't come for the food, so...

Published: 5/10/12

Written by: Yszi Hawkings (Catering Chair 2012)

On Thursday evening the catering team had the tasting for the new and improved Limmud Conference 2012 menu. The choices included cod in a miso sauce with noodles, roasted salmon with new potatoes and green beans, tofu in sweet and sour sauce with noodles and of course, falafel with houmous and pitta bread.

We also took the opportunity to discuss the more mundane side of catering including meal times, numbers of catering volunteers, new plans for the Panorama dining room and much, much more with Jason, the caterer.

There will be a few changes to the food on Limmud Conference 2012 which we hope you'll all find to be for the better. The improvements that we're implementing include a Grab & Go breakfast in the Library Cafe, new queuing systems at Grab & Go lunches and in the dining rooms and an online booking system for Butterworth dinner, look out for more details to come!

If you want to be part of this integral Limmud Conference team and help with catering we'd love to hear from you. Being on the catering team doesn't mean chopping and cooking but instead you help us to make sure that everyone on Conference gets fed and leaves the dining room with a smile.

The tasting was great and we can guarantee its better than the curried fish!


Falafel and Learning with a Chief

Published: 27/9/12

Written by: Hannah Minsky (Volunteers Chair 2012)

Before I joined the Limmud Conference steering group for the first time in Januray 2011, it was a little known fact to me that almost the entirety of all Limmud events are organised via email between the hours of 6:30pm and 1am. Volunteers come home from a day at work, university or school, switch on the computer and reply to Limmud emails. It is at this time that Conference, Fest and Day Limmud really happens; site contracts are edited, presenters are invited and volunteers are recruited.

But from 6:30pm to 8:30pm on Monday (24th September) evening, this was not the case. Limmud volunteers took a few hours away from the keyboard and gathered at the home of the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks for a reception to celebrate the hard work we do. Usually an evening doing something for Limmud away from the computer involves a meeting in a Golders Green coffee shop and a long to-do list at the end of the evening. This was not the case on Monday evening. I think I can safely speak on behalf of the Limmud volunteer community when I say that a feeling was created that we are doing a very good thing for Anglo and world Jewry by donating some of our time to Limmud.

After a tasty reception that included smoked salmon, falafel and the usual jokes about Conference catering (which I hear will be superb this year!) we were treated to a learning session looking at Jewish teachings on leadership from the Chief Rabbi. As the majority of volunteers don't make it to many sessions at Conference, it really was a treat to listen to Lord Sacks speak.

As volunteers co-chair for Conference, my role is to ensure that everyone who would like to volunteer has a job to do and that there is a volunteer to do every job that needs doing. After being welcomed in to Lord Sacks' home and listening to his warm words, simply because I am a volunteer, I now feel inspired to also ensure that every volunteer, from the chair stacker to the shuk manager to our esteemed chair of Conference is aware of how crucial they are in making Conference happen.

Wishing every Limmud volunteer-past, present and future and happy new year.


A Chair's Eye View

Published: 20/9/12

Written by: David Renton (Limmud Conference Chair 2012)

I was asked to shed some light on what it has been like to chair the Limmud Conference 2012 Steering Group thus far, in around 300 words. That actually wasn't possible, given what I have experienced during the year to date, but I've tried to note down some of my main observations so far.

In my day job as a Chartered Accountant in industry, there is a fair degree of structure, process and routine I need to work within. I expected that I would be bound by a similar framework as Chair of Conference. To my pleasant surprise (although at times, sheer terror and panic), I have not found this to be the case since the start point of the position on December 30th 2011 (yes, I had a whole morning off after Limmud Conference 2011, before starting planning for 2012). That is not to say I have total freedom in Conference planning – for example, there are constraints to work within financially and in terms with how we can use our site at the University of Warwick, to give but two examples – but by and large, the Conference Steering Group has a largely blank canvass to create something which we can look back on and say was 'our' conference.

The one thing which has not come as a surprise to me is the time I spend on Conference matters, having been forewarned! Even still, I have been a Limmud volunteer for around four years and this is the first role I have done where the commitment has been 'total' throughout the year. Communicating with the steering group, volunteers and other stakeholders – whether by email, phone or face to face – is the one constant feature of a normal day, before you can even start dealing with scheduled tasks (starting planning for the Gala, as was the case during the production of this blog), unforeseen issues or even little initiatives or tweaks I wanted to secure during my time as Chair.

Earlier in the year, everything seemed very hypothetical. In March, we had a Steering Group planning weekend and whilst we were all talking very enthusiastically about the conference we wanted to create, everything was still very much on the drawing board. This is in stark contrast to our second planning weekend held two weeks ago, when we arrived at the University of Warwick complete with a signed site contract, our brochure ready for posting, over 80 confirmed presenters , and more than 200 participants signed up. As exciting as it was back in January seeing plans being made and ideas being generated, it is doubly exciting to see plans being realised and a tangible goal to work towards.

I hope the team and I have a chance to welcome you all on Conference, and if you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please do contact me at conf12-chair@limmud.org


WTB? (Why The Blog?)

Published: 10/9/12

Written by: Oliver Marcus (Communication and Marketing Chair 2012)

Hello and welcome to the official blog of Limmud Conference 2012. Over the next 3 months we will be using this space to give you a behind the scenes insight into creating this year's Limmud Conference.

For those of you who don't know; Limmud is run (almost) entirely by volunteers and Conference 2012 is no exception. Since January (we gave ourselves 48 hours off after Conference 2011) a group of 25 volunteers, who make up the steering group (the core planning team), has been planning Conference 2012. We have been on two planning weekends, had 7 steering group meetings as well as countless team meetings, hundreds of hours of phone calls and potentially millions of emails. And this is supposed to be the quiet part of the year.

From this point on the teams will be planning, organising, recruiting, discussing, laughing, sorting, really anything that would appear in the Action category of Articulate all to make this the best Limmud Conference ever.

To help you understand the work that goes into creating a Limmud Conference we have decided to create this blog. Each week (at least) a blog will be posted, written by a variety of people who are helping plan Conference. Not only will you get to see the work that they are putting in, but if you are very lucky they might even let slip some of the new and exciting initiatives that are being prepared especially for Conference 2012.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we look forward to seeing you at Conference 2012 .