Jewish Journal

Limmud in Vienna. Finally.

Ian Shulman

November 20, 2011 | 12:29 pm


It is still hard for me to believe, but it did happen - first Limmud in Austria did take place in Vienna on November 13th. Couple of weeks before the event, when the most part of the preparation was already behind, the organizational team had a meeting with Clive Lawton, the man who founded the first Limmud 30 years ago in the United Kingdom. According to Clive, having returned from a Jewish educational festival in New York, he and his friends had the idea of organizing a similar event in the UK. This idea was said to be naive and unrealistic, as Jewish community in the UK was perceived as passive, discrete and lacked motivated young people comparing to the one in New York. Meanwhile, Clive was determined to realize his vision, which is now known as Limmud - at least so that do disprove that critical statement. As one of the coordinators of Limmud Vienna, I somehow feel just like Clive did 30 years ago.

Limmud is the internation festival of Jewish learning, one or several days of lectures, discussions, workshops, concerts, exhibitions and whatever else having a link with Jewish culture, tradition and identity. Here, in accordance with one of the core Jewish traditions, everyone has a chance to be both a teacher and a student, as long as he or she has something to share and is willing to discover something. Limmud is not a youth event, anyone can and encouraged to take part; still, obviously it requires young and active people to kick-start the organizational process. Holding a Limmud in Vienna, a city which Jewish background is legendary, seemed to me personally as a very honourable must-do. So the reason why Limmud didn’t take place in Vienna till now can only be that these motivated youth was not there to start it. Being one of those people meant a big honour and an important mission.

I joined the team of Limmud approximately one month before the event itself, so closer to the ending phase of the preparation. However, there was still enough of work to do. It is the moment when you find out that behind the shiny idea and vision there lies tonnes of routine, hard but yet necessary work. And seeing this work resulting in a, I might say, successful event is a great feeling.

Of course, the first Limmud in Vienna didn’t manage to reach the scope of the festivals in some other places for various reasons. However, what was pointed out by many guests is that this event managed to generate a very special, home and cozy atmosphere. Thanks to Lauder Business School which has offered us their facilities, bilingual English/German programme ranging from cooking workshop and theatre tryout to art exhibition and concert, of course with lectures on various topics in between. But the greatest reward was this special holiday joy, which everyone seem to smell during the last festive hours of the event, with exhibition, concert, wine, tired, hungry, but truly happy coordinators, volunteers and guests.

P.S. Someone asked me after the event: “So did you coordinators eventually get paid for the work you’ve done?”. Had he visit the event itself, he would understand why I was laughing after his words.

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