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Limmud logo
Founded 1980
Founders Clive Lawton, Alastair Falk, Michael May, Jonathan Benjamin
Type Jewish educational charity[1]
Key people
  • David Hoffman (Chair)
Slogan Wherever you find yourself, Limmud will take you one step further on your Jewish journey

Limmud is a British-Jewish educational charity[1] which, in the UK produces a large annual winter conference and several other regional events throughout the year on the theme of Jewish learning. Limmud is not affiliated to any strand of Judaism and markets itself as open to "anyone interested in Jewish learning".

Limmud (from the Hebrew word meaning "to learn")[3] was originally a conference for "educators",[3] basing itself on CAJE, the Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education of North America,[4] formed in 1976. From CAJE, it took a volunteer ethos, not paying presenters, and not using people's titles. During the 1990s there was the significant change as Limmud reinvented itself as a community gathering, giving rise to a significant increase in the number of attendees and leading it to be described as "British Jewry's greatest export".[5] The Limmud model has now spread to many other countries.[1]

A distinctive feature of Limmud is that the events are organised by volunteers,[6][7] also take part as equals in the conference.[5][8] Limmud's largest group of volunteers are in their 20s and 30s.[8] Around half of the UK "Forty under 40" (a community-wide initiative to identify the future leaders of British Jewry, published by The Jewish News) have volunteered for Limmud and a former Chair of Limmud, Elliott Goldstein, topped the list.[9]


Limmud is a company and a charity. It is run by a board of directors and trustees, all of whom are volunteers. Initially, there was no difference between Limmud the organisation and Limmud Conference, the annual event, so the chairs of the Conference team were the chairs of the organisation. In 1990, a chair for the organisation who was separate from the Conference chairs was appointed for the first time. In 2006, Limmud International was created, as a separate unit within Limmud to manage relationships with other Limmud groups around the world.

Chairs of Limmud Conference[10]

1980 – 1981 Alistair Falk, Michael May, Jonathan Benjamin, Clive Lawton

1982 – 1984 Steve Miller

1985 Tina Elliott

1986 Jonathan Benjamin

1987 Alan Wilkinson

1988 Madeline Ismach

1989 Alistair Falk

1990 – 1994 Andrew Gilbert

1995 Natan Tiefenbrun

1996 Yvonne Krasner, Marc Soloway, Judy Trotter

1997 Micah Gold, Jonny Persey, Marc Soloway

1998 Micah Gold

1999 Jacqueline Nicholls, Claire Straus

2000 Andrew Levy, Abe Sterne

2001 Claire Mandel, Carolyn Bogush

2002 Juliet Simmons

2003 Fleurise Luder, Eliot Kaye

2004 Batya Elliott, Paul Turner

2005 David Century, Shoshana Bloom

2006 Jason Caplin, Natalie Grazin

2007 Kevin Sefton

2008 Libby Burkeman and Charles Darwish

2009 Rebecca Lester and David Israel

2010 Danielle Nagler and Steven Fisher

2011 Shoshana Bloom and Jonathan Walters

2012 David Renton

2013 Oliver Marcus and Richard Verber

2014 Shana Boltin and Jonathan Robinson

2015 Joanna Ish-Horowicz, Michael Gladstone and Claire Samuel

2016 Ben Crowne and Steve Weller

2017 Abigail Jacobi and Anna Lawton

Chairs of Limmud

1990 – 1997 Andrew Gilbert

1998 – 2001 Judy Trotter

1998 – 2000 Natan Tiefenbrun

2001 – 2003 Claire Straus

2003 – 2005 Claire Mandel

2006 – 2009 Elliott Goldstein

2010 – 2012 Carolyn Bogush

2013 – 2015 Kevin Sefton

2016 – David Hoffman

Chairs of Limmud International

2006 – 2009 Andrew Gilbert

2010 – 2012 Uri Berkowitz, Helena Miller

2013 – 2014 David Hoffman

2015 – David Bilchitz

Limmud's first professional appointment in 1998 was of Clive Lawton as part-time Executive Director; he gradually became backed by a full-time administrator. In 2006 Limmud recruited its first full-time Executive Director, Raymond Simonson, former Director of UJIA Makor: The Centre for Informal Jewish Education.[11] When Simonson became Chief Executive of London's Jewish Community Centre,[11] now JW3, in 2012, he was succeeded by Shelley Marsh.[12] She stepped down from the role in 2015.[13] Mike Schindler was the Limmud Director of Operations and the senior professional in the organisation between March and August 2015,[14] and then Dani Serlin was Acting Executive Director until February 2016. In February 2016, Limmud appointed the current Chief Executive, Eli Ovits, as senior professional.[15]

Limmud events in the UK[edit]

Limmud Festival[edit]

Limmud Festival (until 2017 known as Limmud Conference), takes place every year in the last week of December[16] and is the organisation's flagship event. It was inspired by the CAJE conference in the United States [1] and now attracts more than 2,000 participants annually;[3][16] in 2015 the numbers rose to 2,750.[17] A typical day at Limmud Festival includes around 200 sessions spanning religious, cultural and political aspects of Jewish life. After the first conferences at Carmel College (Oxfordshire),[18] Limmud Conference has been held at Portsmouth Polytechnic (1984),[18] Oxford Brookes University (1986–1994),[18] Worcester (1995–96), Manchester (1997), Nottingham University (1998–2006) and Warwick University (2007–14).[18] Since 2015 this annual event has been held at the hotels surrounding Pendigo Lake, near Birmingham.[19][20]

Limmud in the Woods[edit]

Limmud in the Woods (formerly known as Limmud Fest) was held in the last week of August.[21] It ran from 2005 until 2016. Limmud's summer national event, it was held under canvas,[21] had a less intense programme centred on Shabbat and is more cultural and outdoors-focused than its winter sibling. It was attended by around 200–250 young adults and young families.[21]

Day and weekend Limmud events[edit]

The first Day Limmud was in Sheffield in the early 1980s, followed by Leeds in the mid-1990s. Day and weekend Limmuds are now held at a number of venues in the UK, including Birmingham,[22] Cambridge,[23][24] Harrow,[25] Hull,[26] Leeds,[27][28] Liverpool,[29][30] Manchester,[31] and the Thames Valley.[32]

In the past, Limmuds have also been held in Bournemouth,[33] Brighton,[34] Glasgow,[35][36] Hackney,[37] Newcastle, South London and South East London.

Other Limmud events in UK[edit]

Other events run by Limmud in the UK either on their own or in partnership with others have included music events and the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, organised in partnership with the London Jewish Cultural Centre.

Limmuds around the world[edit]

The Limmud model has now spread to many other countries.[1] Eighty communities in 40 countries on six continents have hosted Limmud events including, in 2013 for the first time, Hong Kong,[38] Peru,[39] India[40] and Montenegro.

Relationships with Orthodoxy in Britain[edit]

The former London United Synagogue Beth Din's Head Dayan (rabbinic judge), Chanoch Ehrentreu, advised Orthodox rabbis not to attend Limmud Conference.[41] However, in the UK many United Synagogue pulpit rabbis have attended Limmud. In December 2010 Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of Mill Hill United Synagogue, who had been seen as a notable absentee and critic of Limmud, attended, took part in and taught at Limmud's 30th annual Conference. Following this he wrote on the synagogue's website: "upon return all I could ask myself was, 'where was I until now?'" [42]

Jonathan Sacks did not attend Limmud whilst being Chief Rabbi but attended when he was the head of Jews College. Sacks, when looking back on his rabbinate, considers Limmud to be one of the great successes of his time.[43]

Controversy erupted again in 2013 when newly elected Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis announced his decision to attend.[41] Subsequently, a public notice signed by seven leading Orthodox rabbis including Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu and Rabbi Avrohom Gurwicz and published in the Jewish Tribune, attacked pluralism and urged "God-fearing Jews" not to participate in Limmud.[41] This sparked condemnation by non-Charedi communal leaders, with Jewish Leadership Council chairman Mick Davis, Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman and United Synagogue president Stephen Pack writing to The Jewish Chronicle saying that the statement showed "a shocking failure of leadership".[44] The Jewish Chronicle itself described the statement as "crass, ill-judged and ultimately self-defeating".[45] Mirvis's attendance at the 2013 Limmud Conference was well received by fellow participants.[46] At least nine other United Synagogue rabbis also attended the event.[47]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Limmud is registered with the Charity Commission as charity no. 1083414. According to the Charity Commission, Limmud operates throughout England and Wales and also in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States of America. "Limmud". Find charities. Charity Commission. 2 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Rocker, Simon (30 November 2015). "Lawyer David Hoffman appointed new chair of Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c Jeffay, Nathan (16 December 2008). "'It's more academic than academia'". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Oliver, Charlotte (5 September 2014). "The man leading from the front of the class". Interview with Alastair Falk in The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Harman, Danna (7 January 2011). "All Jewish, all the time". Haaretz. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Kustanowitz, Esther D (11 November 2013). "Seven ways to disrupt a Jewish conference". Haaretz. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "‘Volunticipants’ Needed for Jewish Fest". New Wave. Tulane University. 8 March 2010. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Eisner, Jane (7 January 2014). "What Limmud Can Teach Us". The Forward. New York. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Marin, James (17 June 2010). "Elliott is number one". The Jewish News. London. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Limmud Conference handbooks, various 2002–2016
  11. ^ a b Lipman, Jennifer (2 August 2012). "Limmud leader Simonson heads for the JCC". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Limmud picks Shelley Marsh for top job". The Jewish Chronicle. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Doherty, Rosa (25 March 2015). "Limmud director steps down". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  14. ^ "Limmud the organisation – who's who". Limmud. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b Kahn-Harris, Keith (29 December 2010). "Limmud: a great Jewish alternative to Christmas". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "Limmud 2015 in pictures". The Jewish Chronicle. 31 December 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  18. ^ a b c d Easterman, Daniel (23 December 2013). "How Limmud has grown". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  19. ^ Rocker, Simon (21 December 2015). "Limmud's new venue should make this year the best conference yet, say organisers". the Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  20. ^ Dysch, Marcus; Firsht, Naomi; Jackman, Josh (31 December 2014). "Limmud 2014: Organisers promise bigger event next year". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c Sheinman, Anna (11 August 2013). "Limmud goes camping in the Woods". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "Limmud Birmingham WM 2016". Limmud. 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  23. ^ Rocker, Simon (11 November 2013). "Cambridge: 'The Rolls-Royce of day Limmuds'". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  24. ^ Josephs, Bernard (10 November 2011). "Limmud's Cambridge education finds a highly receptive audience". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Hundreds flock to Harrow Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. 11 March 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "Book your place at a unique 'pop up' day Limmud in Hull – the UK city of culture – 7th May 2017". Leeds Jewish Community. 1 March 2017. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  27. ^ Kalmus, Jonathan (11 March 2011). "Leeds loves Limmud experience". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  28. ^ Fisher, John (8 November 2012). "Leeds ignites Limmud fireworks". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  29. ^ Greenberg, Sue (22 March 2012). "Limmud shows its political influences". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  30. ^ "Liverpool loves Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  31. ^ Kalmus, Jonathan (10 January 2014). "Manchester gears up for its own Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  32. ^ "Thames' class act at Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  33. ^ "Limmud in Sunny Bournemouth". The Jewish Chronicle. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  34. ^ "Brighton rocks to the beat of Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  35. ^ "Scots love their Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. 29 November 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  36. ^ Brickman, Stephanie (18 February 2010). "Scotland's Limmud weekend". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  37. ^ "A big crowd flocks to Hackney's first Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  38. ^ Lyons, Erica (13 March 2013). "Hong Kong is Finally Limmud Trending". eJewish Philanthropy. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  39. ^ "Limmud debut in Peru draws more than 600". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  40. ^ EJP (5 November 2013). "First Limmud Mumbai Event Draws Jews from Across the Subcontinent". Jewish Philanthropy. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  41. ^ a b c Lebens, Samuel (22 October 2013). "Why Orthodox rabbis shouldn’t boycott Limmud". Haaretz. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  42. ^ Schochet, Yitzchak (3 January 2011). "When Lightning Didn’t Strike". Rabbi's Blog. Mill Hill, United Synagogue. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  43. ^ Liebman, Jessica (12 July 2010). "Big Think Interview With Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks". Big Think. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  44. ^ Rocker, Simon (17 October 2013). "Limmud backlash over visit by Chief". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  45. ^ "Chief Rabbi Mirvis's dignified silence". The Jewish Chronicle. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  46. ^ "Mirvis: Great to be Jewish at Limmud". Jewish Telegraph. 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  47. ^ Rocker, Simon (2 January 2014). "We’ll be there again next year, say US rabbis". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 

External links[edit]