October 25, 2007
Volunteers drive eclectic learning at LimmudLA
(Page 2 - Previous Page)"Limmud is a movement where you need to meet people where they are, and engage with each other in respect," said Shep Rosenman, an entertainment lawyer and LimmudLA co-chair, paraphrasing a favorite aphorism of Limmud founder Clive Lawton (who will be attending LimmudLA). "Since this is the condition precedent to walking into the room, it means you approach these debates differently -- everyone is heard, and it becomes incumbent on everyone in the room to not only represent their own point of view, but everyone else's."
That message, and the possibility of it resonating beyond the confines of three days in February, has spread far since Rosenman, Fife and 10 other Angelenos brought the idea back from Limmud New York in January 2005, when the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation invited groups to explore the possibility of seeding Limmuds in their own communities.
LimmudLA has raised about half its $793,000 annual budget, and has also raised funds for an infrastructure to take the organization beyond the year-one conference to anticipated year-round programming.
Some money has come from individuals and family foundations, and in-kind donations have covered office and computer use, as well as some food and items for the conference. LimmudLA secured a $250,000 grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles for overhead for the next three years. The Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund of the Jewish Federation awarded LimmudLA up to $75,000 to pursue strategic planning and evaluation. And The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles came up with $50,000 to attract and integrate 20-somethings. Grants are in the works to cover college kids, and to get programming tracks -- the arts, Jewish Life in Los Angeles, Israel -- sponsored by foundations.
Funding co-chair Alan Paul says raising money hasn't been a struggle, once supporters recognize that the Limmud model of transdenominational, nondogmatic and exciting Jewish learning, coming from the grassroots and not from establishment organizations, can go a long way in fixing what is wrong with the Jewish community.
"It took us a long time to get people to realize that this is not about putting on a conference -- the idea is to build relationships and connections among all the elements of our community, so that whatever we do is self-sustaining and durable," Paul said. "We are helping the community develop mechanisms for learning and growth."
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