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Jewish Journal

LimmudLA Reaches Out to Israelis

by Rebecca Steinberger

October 6, 2009 | 10:24 pm

On Oct. 4, LimmudLA targeted the Israeli community, offering a sampling of what might be expected at the weekend-long learning conference to be held Feb. 12-15, 2010.

This “Israeli Taste” of Limmud was just one of a series held once or twice a month in private homes leading up to the conference, where volunteers teach a variety of brief courses related to Judaism.

The conference offerings include spirituality, religious practice, politics, comedy, cooking, movies, music and more. The taste event, however, focused on Israeli identity. Two of the sessions raised questions with vast similarities: “Why Be Jewish — Being Israeli Is Not Enough?” and “Israeli-Jewishness in the Diaspora — Can it Survive?”

Discussions encompassed a range of views, but overall the focus was on how to preserve the Israeli identity of children of Israeli parents who were born in the United States. There was an overwhelming agreement that while growing up in Israel there was little concern with having to identify as being Jewish, but this does not extend to the next generation.

The sessions offered a variety of Jewish learning topics, conducted through open discussions.

“Anyone can have the opportunity to bring something to the table,” said Linda Fife, LimmudLA founder, adding that “everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach.” LimmudLA had its first conference in Orange County in 2008; all-volunteer Limmud conferences take place each year in more than 40 cities worldwide.

Fife said she has long been concerned with how segregated the Jewish community is in Los Angeles, both by geography and in levels of observance. She believes it’s important to do something to bring people together and break down stereotypes.

“These events show people what we are all about, and these are people who might not have Jewish learning throughout the year,” said Wendy Jackler, deputy chair of the LimmudLA conference.

Referring to his involvement as a volunteer with LimmudLA, Joseph Shamash said, “I drank the Kool-Aid, and it was so sweet.”

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