The Blog is a space to get a behind-the-scenes view of this year's preparations.

A Festival of culinary delights!

Ilana Fenster-Simons and Arieh Miller, Catering Co-Chairs

In Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8:3 it says, “Man does not live by bread alone.” Whilst this may not be a direct reference to the food provided at Limmud Festival 2017, it is certainly true of it. Whilst the rest of the Festival Steering Group have been working on providing the most exciting and engaging festival of culture and learning that you have ever been to, we (the Catering co-chairs) have been putting together a menu so filled with culinary delights, you will never want to leave.

This year at Limmud Festival we are doing something different. Don’t worry! For those of you who don’t like change, the main Monarch dining room will still be serving a milky breakfast, lunch and dinner, for which we have been working with Celia and her team to take the best meals of the past 4 years and put them together into a top-notch menu for you. And for those of you who don’t want to take a break, there will still be the Grab-n-Go tent, where you can get a quick sandwich, salad or a soup and a roll so that you don’t miss even a single session.

This year we have changed the name of our winter event from Conference to Festival, in order to better reflect the soulful, eclectic and vibrant essence of our communal learning experience. This change has, in turn, led us to think about how the food you eat can and should be part of this amazing experience.

So, for Festival 2017, we are changing what was previously known as “meat dining” and will be running an exciting alternative dining experience every night. For a number of years there has been a focus on meat in this alternate dining room. There will still be meat, but we want to change the focus to being about good food. And not just any food. We will be serving “street food” style meals, with culinary delights from around the world – Mexican, Indian, Israeli, and Western will all feature. We have turned the tables and made the food all about quality, imagination, excitement and enjoyment. In many cases, we are sure that even those of you who usually enjoy meat might be tempted by something else!

We are also increasing our focus on food ethics, decreasing food waste, prioritising taste and flavour, and making sure that the food we provide is appropriate for the people we provide it to. The menus will be available for you to explore throughout Festival, and we will also have extra special culinary surprises throughout the week. Rest assured, we’ll be serving up world-class food to accompany our world-class programme!

Volunteering at Limmud Festival

Bruce Rothberg, Yads and Volunteers Co-Chair

I could tell you the story about the hotel concierge trolley. It’s a story I’ve told many times over the last couple of years and it still seems weird that it actually happened. Or I could reminisce about the time I served Deborah Lipstadt a coffee. Or I could even tell you the old story about the mystery of the disappearing mattress.

But whichever story I choose to tell, the point is that helping out as a Yad at Limmud Festival is sometimes strange, often hilarious and always a memorable experience.

Some people think that the most important thing to say is that contributing to the organisation of Limmud Festival allows you to get a discounted place at the event - this year up to £200 off. And for others, the selling point of the Yad scheme might be opportunities for personal and professional development - it's definitely a useful case study in job interviews.

But while both of those are good reasons to be a Yad, but they don’t quite capture the unique nature of what it means to be involved.

Limmud Festival is an incredible event and it hardly seems believable that is created by people giving up their money, time and energy to make it happen. To put things in perspective, everything that you could possibly come into contact with was the result of someone volunteering. From the signs that tell you where to go and the spoons to stir your coffee, all the way to the long list of amazing presenters and the hotels and rooms themselves - it was all made possible by volunteers. Everyone from the person who gives you hand gel at dinner to the Chairs of the event are all volunteers, giving their time to make this amazing Festival happen.

Why? Because being involved isn’t about the money, not really.

It’s about the friends and the memories. The camaraderie, the brother/sisterhood and the crazy stories about bizarre situations...often involving mobile furniture. Nowhere else can you become such good friends, so quickly with people from all over the world. Creating memories, jokes and catchphrases. All made possible by the Yad scheme.

I know it may seem like I'm getting carried away here, but I’m really not exaggerating at all. Whether you want to recapture the magic of the last night of camp for four nights in a row or you want to discover a dynamic, diverse and delicious slice of the Jewish community - come help us run the event!

It truly is made by us, the Yads. And this year, it can be made by you too.

You can find out more about being a Yad here and go directly to the booking form here. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via email.

And who knows, maybe next year you’ll be telling a wacky story all of your own...

Thinking ahead at Limmud Festival

Hannah Brady & Dan Heller, Programming Co-Chairs

Today is World Mental Health Day. Here in the UK, much is being done to mark it and to raise awareness of issues surrounding mental health and mental illness.

This year’s volunteer team is proud to say that Limmud Festival will be doing its best to shine a light on some important issues.

Last year, Limmud Conference teamed up with Anglo-Jewry’s mental health charity JAMI for the first time to ensure for that there was mental health support available at the event. In 2017, we’re delighted to be continuing our journey with JAMI and hope this will make a positive contribution towards people’s experience.

In addition to having JAMI on board, the programming team have made a conscientious effort to bring important issues relating to mental illness and mental health awareness into the Festival programme. Speakers such as Marvin Shaw, Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Moshe Farchi, Claire Hilton and more will bring topics that have been considered taboo to the fore, and offer us all new opportunities to overcome harmful stigmas and deepen our understanding. We’ll have space to talk about issues that affect many of us, such as resilience and major incidents, suicide, pregnancy loss and postpartum depression, and beating stress and anxiety.

In addition to holding discussions about mental health, the Festival programme will give you the chance to take up some new mental wellbeing practices as well. Mindfulness and meditation will have its place in the programme, and we’re ensuring that a longer break in the early evening will help everyone to step back from the excitement of sessions and make sure we all give ourselves a little rest.

Last year, a talk from Luciana Berger MP about mental health in the Jewish community was packed to the rafters - together with initiatives such as Head On Shabbat and the success of JAMI’s Head Room café in Golders Green, we’re seeing increasingly that mental health is something we want to address and raise awareness of.

It’s clear that the Jewish community is keen to have a meaningful conversation about mental health - book your Limmud Festival place to be a part of it.

Published on 10 October 2017

Conference is now Festival

Ben Lewis, Marketing and Communications Co-Chair

It’s finally here! Limmud Festival 2017 bookings are open and the countdown to December has begun!

Yes, you heard that right, we’re excited to share with you that Limmud Conference is now Limmud Festival - a new name for one of the biggest celebrations of Jewish learning and culture in the world. We can’t wait for you to join us and continue to make this such a vibrant and exciting event. Limmud Festival is made so special because of the unique experiences, viewpoints and opinions every participant brings - it’s made by you.

Registration for Festival 2017 is now open and it’s definitely worth securing your place as quickly as possible. In previous years some of our most popular accommodation options have sold out - getting in early will make sure you can choose from any of our great choices. Need more incentive? The early-bird prices will save you at least £40 off each place at Festival as long as you book by September 24.

This year, as in every year, Limmud Festival is not only made by your contribution, it is made possible by the time and effort of our amazing community of volunteers. As part of the registration process, you will have the different options to become one of those volunteers and leave your mark on this unique event. We really encourage you to say yes, become a member of this remarkable group of people and become an integral part of something truly special.

In addition, the Yad scheme participants are the “helping hands” at Limmud Festival, previously known as Conference Makers. You can sign up to help out for 10 or 20 hours during Festival in return for a discounted place - £100 discount for offering 10 hours and £200 for offering 20 hours. It’s not only a great way to come to Festival for a lower price, it also enables you to meet and work with a great team of other Yads in one of a huge range of roles across the event.

If you have any questions about volunteering or the Yad scheme, head to our page on volunteering at Festival to find our more or contact the Volunteers Team.

There’s full information on booking your place on the website. With Yad discounts, financial assistance and payment by instalments all available, Limmud Festival really is for everyone - take a look and do contact the Limmud Office if you have any questions.

It’s only 110 days until the first Limmud Festival Participants will be arriving at Pendigo Lake. We can’t wait for you to be one of them!

Published on 3 September 2017

2017: Made by You

Ben Lewis, Marketing and Communications Co-Chair

December celebrations seem to start earlier every year and our annual celebration of Limmud is no exception.

It may seem like some time until December rolls around, but preparations for this year's festivities are already well underway. The team has been in place and working since January. A whole range of dedicated volunteers have already put many hours into building what will no doubt be a memorable event. By the time we finally make it to December 24th, both the number of volunteers and the number of hours put in will have multiplied several times over. By then, all of us and all of you will be volunteers or contributing in some way.

It is all made by you.

This year we want to shine an even greater light than ever onto how the whole event is planned, prepared and delivered by a simply enormous number of people giving their time and effort. It may have always been called a "conference", but it is much more a community built by the combined efforts of every participant who attends.

It's impossible to spend even the shortest time at any Limmud event without having your experience shaped by a volunteer. Been to a session? A presenter has given their time to enlighten and entertain you. Had anything to eat at mealtime or drink at the bar? It's volunteers helping to make sure you get your food and serving you your drinks. Even if you're just managing to walk in the right direction - the signs, the maps, even clearing some litter out of the way was all done by volunteers.

There are those people with titles, those with pre-defined roles. There are those who register as volunteers in advance and ingrain themselves more in the fabric of the whole event. But there is equally everyone else, those with no role, who never signed up for anything, but who also make the magic happen by living out the spirit of Limmud and helping in small ways that few people will notice. In the theatre, they say there is no such thing as a small part; at Limmud, there is no such thing as a small part to play.

Because if Limmud wasn't made by you, it would never have become the vibrant celebration of Jewish life it has now become. With almost 3,000 participants per year, coming from countries all over the world and attending over 1,000 sessions making up the programme, there truly is nothing like it.

This blog will be filled over the coming weeks and months with updates from some of our volunteers on how preparations are going, with exciting announcements, reveals and surprises about what this year will hold. If you've ever thought about offering to volunteer in these preparations then, to quote Rabbi Hillel: if not now, when? Be in touch with our volunteers team who will have plenty of ways you can be part of it all.

Joining the Limmud community each December is always the biggest opportunity of the year to make your own vibrant Jewish experience. In 2017, we’re all sure it is going to be bigger and better than ever.

If you are interested in volunteering to make Festival 2017 happen, get in touch with the Volunteers Team. Email

Published on 19 July 2017