4 July 2022
Presenting at Limmud can be a life-changing experience
We interviewed Marc Michael Epstein about his experiences as a presenter at Limmud. Marc first attended in 2008, and we’re excited to welcome him this year for his seventh participation!
When he is not taking part in Limmud, Marc is professor of Religion and Visual Culture at Vassar College in New York State and serves as Executive Director of Beit Venezia, The Home for Jewish Culture in Venice, Italy. He has written on various topics in visual and material culture produced by, for, and about Jews.
What is your favourite memory from Limmud Festival?
So many: One, when little Ári (my youngest, then 3, now 14!) was photographed by the JC asking “Please, Sir, I want some more” at the milk machine.
Second, when, that same year, 2010, an old mentor and bar mitzvah rebbe of mine, a revered Orthodox figure, consented to come to Limmud, and in a public presentation expressed the opinion that there was no issue preventing women from being (Orthodox) rabbis, and began the conversation with me with a heavy sigh about the fact that he was struggling to explain to the fourth grade class (in an Orthodox school of which he was the headmaster) that one of the class members had two mommies, and that “love is love” (the first time I heard that phrase!)
Third, doing joint sessions or collaborations with such superstars as Abigail Morris, Yaffa Epstein, and Yael Unterman. Finally, in 2019, traveling from London to Birmingham with Ben and Tilla Crowne and an eight- foot tall Hannukiyah, with a stop at Stonehenge for the Solstice Dawn.
Who would be your dream presenter at Festival?
2018 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Olga Nawoja Tokarczuk (in conversation with me!) talking about her new novel The Books of Jacob, ostensibly about the Frankist movement, but really reconstructing/creating the entire milieu of 18th century Polish Jewish-Catholic-Orthodox-Enlightenment-Heresy relations. It is a rich and heady trip, and entirely worthy of Limmud.
What was the most surprising session you ever attended?
The best sessions I have attended have been those offered by the least-known (to me!) presenters, on the least-expected (ditto!) topics. I do remember, with particular pleasure, a session by Yaffa Epstein and Gila Fine on Jane Austin on rabbinic/ midrashic character analysis of Jane Austen characters. And I remember how deeply drawn in and compelled I was by a session on pain, trauma, and mourning by Mimi Feigelson that was simultaneously deeply personal and—simultaneously and miraculously—immensely relevant to everyone in the room.
What top tips would you offer first-time presenters at Festival?
Truly experience Limmud. You’re not a talking head swooping in to do a gig, amassing “followers” on social media— you are a human in conversation with other brilliant, creative, sometimes exasperating—other humans. If you slow down, take the opportunity to meet people who come to your sessions and have deep conversations with them at ensuing opportunities, you will get SO much out of Limmud as well as being able to give.
Although I am completely off social media since my shrink contends that were I on it I would be “a danger to myself and to others,” I have still maintained and sustained real, living, relationships with actual people I met this way: Eiran Davies and Nir Nadav, who ran the Beit Midrash one year; their friend Stewart Brookes, and his wife Eve Grubin, HER great friend Leya Landau, who makes a pilgrimage to Limmud most years, Jaq Nichols, at whose Rebbetzin’s Disco I have danced till dawn, Noam Sienna, the Treuhertz, De Picciotto-Stolow,, the Kahn-Harris, the Berger- Yana, the Taylor-Guthartz, and the Michelson-Shackman families.
I introduced one of my best friends to his fiancé, I got to know my wonderful academic colleague Eva Frojmovic and her family in a context beyond the journals and the classroom. And the aforementioned wonderful speakers, who ended up being wonderful friends.
Like opera, which is called (by those with patience for overlong German words) a “Gesamtkunstwerk” — a complete and encompassing art form— Limmud is a complete and encompassing experience that will bring joy to every “presenter” who, first and foremost, thinks of themselves as a participant, every teacher who is also willing to be a learner.
We’re embarking on a new step on our Jewish journey this December. Will you be joining us? 👣
Limmud Festival returns to the scintillating shores of Pendigo Lake in Birmingham this December (23rd-29th) with in-person programming for the first time since 2019. 🏝 And more than ever, it will be #madebyyou!
You are the stars 🤩
At Limmud, everyone is a student, and anyone can be a teacher. All participants can submit session proposals and feature in the final programme. No need for an invitation or to ask for permission!
Ever wanted to share your university thesis with the wider world? Involved in an amazing cause and want to raise awareness? Are you writing a book? Or are you thinking about a topic of Jewish interest? All of this could feed into your Limmud Festival sessions!
🔜 Registration will open in July. Get ready and keep your eyes peeled!
Create experiences 💡
The Limmud Programming team can help bring your visions to life.
💡Looking to share the stage with other presenters in the form of a panel discussion? Ask us about other presenters who deal with the subject.
💡Wanting to lead a hands-on, practical session? Let us know which tools you need and we’ll source them for you.
💡Are you a dancing queen, a daddy DJ, a king (or queen!) of comedy? Take a chance on our stage!
💡Love devising pub quizzes, speed dates, or other social experiences? Drinks are on us!
Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for any special requests!