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Limmud logo
Founded 1980
Founders Clive Lawton, Alastair Falk
Type Jewish educational charity[1]
Key people
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 produces a large annual winter conference and several other events around 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")[2] was originally a conference for "educators",[2] basing itself on CAJE, the Conference on Alternatives in Jewish Education of North America,[3] formed in 1976. From CAJE, it took a volunteer ethos, not paying presenters, and not using 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".[4] The Limmud model has now spread to many other countries.[1]

A distinctive feature of Limmud is that the events are organised by volunteers who, as "volunticipants",[5][6] also take part as equals in the conference.[4][7] Limmud's largest group of volunteers are in their 20s and 30s.[7] 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.[8]


Limmud's first professional appointment in 1998 was of Clive Lawton as part-time Executive Director, who 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.[9] When Simonson became Chief Executive of London's Jewish Community Centre,[9] now JW3, in 2012, he was succeeded by Shelley Marsh.[10] She stepped down from the role in 2015.[11]

Limmud events in the UK[edit]

Limmud Conference[edit]

Limmud Conference, which takes place every year in the last week of December,[12] is the organisation's flagship event. The event, which was inspired by the CAJE conference in the United States [1], attracts more than 2,000 participants annually.[2][12] A typical day at Limmud Conference includes around 200 sessions spanning religious, cultural and political aspects of Jewish life. An example of the conference can be seen online at Limmud Conference Programme by Session and Presenter 2009. After the first conferences at Carmel College (Oxfordshire),[13] Limmud Conference has been held at Portsmouth Polytechnic (1984),[13] Oxford Brookes University (1986–1994),[13] Worcester (1995–96), Manchester (1997), Nottingham University (1998–2006) and Warwick University (2007–14).[13] The 2015 conference will be held at the hotels surrounding Pendigo Lake, near Birmingham.[14][15]

Limmud in the Woods[edit]

Limmud in the Woods (formerly known as LimmudFest) is held in the last week of August.[16] Limmud's summer event, it is mainly under canvas,[16] has a less intense programme centred on Shabbat and is more cultural and outdoors than its winter sibling. It is attended by about 200-250 young adults and young families.[16]

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 Cambridge,[17][18] Glasgow,[19][20] Harrow (west London),[21] Leeds,[22][23] Liverpool[24][25] and Manchester.[26]

Other Limmud events in UK[edit]

Other events run by Limmud in the UK either on their own or in partnership with others include music events and the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School, organised in partnership with the London Jewish Cultural Centre.[27]

Limmuds around the world[edit]

Main article: Limmud International

The Limmud model has now spread to many other countries.[1] Nearly 70 communities in 34 countries on six continents have hosted Limmud events including, in 2013 for the first time, Hong Kong,[28] Peru,[29] India[30] and Montenegro.[7] There are 18 Limmud communities in the United States and eight in Israel.[7]

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.[31] 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?'" [32]

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.[33]

Controversy erupted again in 2013 when newly elected Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis announced his decision to attend.[31] 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.[31] 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."[34] The Jewish Chronicle itself described the statement as "crass, ill-judged and ultimately self-defeating."[35] Mirvis's attendance at the 2013 Limmud Conference was well received by fellow participants.[36][37] At least nine other United Synagogue rabbis also attended the event.[38]

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. ^ a b c Jeffay, Nathan (16 December 2008). "'It's more academic than academia'". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ a b Harman, Danna (7 January 2011). "All Jewish, all the time". Haaretz. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Kustanowitz, Esther D (11 November 2013). "Seven ways to disrupt a Jewish conference". Haaretz. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "‘Volunticipants’ Needed for Jewish Fest". New Wave. Tulane University. 8 March 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d Eisner, Jane (7 January 2014). "What Limmud Can Teach Us". The Forward (New York). Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Marin, James (17 June 2010). "Elliott is number one". The Jewish News (London). Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Lipman, Jennifer (2 August 2012). "Limmud leader Simonson heads for the JCC". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Limmud picks Shelley Marsh for top job". The Jewish Chronicle. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Doherty, Rosa (25 March 2015). "Limmud director steps down". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Kahn-Harris, Keith (29 December 2010). "Limmud: a great Jewish alternative to Christmas". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c d Easterman, Daniel (23 December 2013). "How Limmud has grown". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "Limmud Conference 2015". Limmud Conference. Limmud. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Dysch, Marcus; Firsht, Naomi; and Jackman, Josh (31 December 2014). "Limmud 2014: Organisers promise bigger event next year". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c Sheinman, Anna (11 August 2013). "Limmud goes camping in the Woods". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  17. ^ Rocker, Simon (11 November 2013). "Cambridge: 'The Rolls-Royce of day Limmuds'". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  18. ^ Josephs, Bernard (10 November 2011). "Limmud's Cambridge education finds a highly receptive audience". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  19. ^ "Scots love their Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. 29 November 2012. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  20. ^ Brickman, Stephanie (18 February 2010). "Scotland's Limmud weekend". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  21. ^ "Hundreds flock to Harrow Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. 11 March 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  22. ^ Kalmus, Jonathan (11 March 2011). "Leeds loves Limmud experience". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  23. ^ Fisher, John (8 November 2012). "Leeds ignites Limmud fireworks". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  24. ^ Greenberg, Sue (22 March 2012). "Limmud shows its political influences". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Liverpool loves Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  26. ^ Kalmus, Jonathan (10 January 2014). "Manchester gears up for its own Limmud". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  27. ^ "The Florence Melton Adult Mini-School". Jewish Life and Learning. London Jewish Cultural Centre. 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  28. ^ Lyons, Erica (13 March 2013). "Hong Kong is Finally Limmud Trending". eJewish Philanthropy. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  29. ^ "Limmud debut in Peru draws more than 600". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 15 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  30. ^ EJP (5 November 2013). "First Limmud Mumbai Event Draws Jews from Across the Subcontinent". Jewish Philanthropy. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  31. ^ a b c Lebens, Samuel (22 October 2013). "Why Orthodox rabbis shouldn’t boycott Limmud". Haaretz. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  32. ^ Schochet, Yitzchak (3 January 2011). "When Lightning Didn’t Strike". Rabbi's Blog. Mill Hill, United Synagogue. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  33. ^ Liebman, Jessica (12 July 2010). "Big Think Interview With Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks". Big Think. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  34. ^ Rocker, Simon (17 October 2013). "Limmud backlash over visit by Chief". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  35. ^ "Chief Rabbi Mirvis's dignified silence". The Jewish Chronicle. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  36. ^ Stein, Jacob (2013). "Being a pain - word didn't exist at Limmud". Jewish Telegraph. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  37. ^ "Mirvis: Great to be Jewish at Limmud". Jewish Telegraph. 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  38. ^ 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]