A Jewish field of dreams generally consists of a teacher, a student and a text to study. If you build it, something wonderful, and wonderfully Jewish, tends to happen.
That’s the idea behind Limmud, a movement that began in Britain several decades ago and has since spread to some 60 communities around the world. With the upcoming “Taste of Limmud” on Nov. 6 at the JCC of the East Bay’s Oakland branch, the movement has finally arrived in the Bay Area. We shall all be the richer for it.
Named for the Hebrew term for “learning,” Limmud is a Jewish education concept that shares attributes with many popular events, such as: the Bay Area’s many all-night Torah study sessions on Shavuot, the Bureau of Jewish Education’s “Feast of Jewish Learning” and the upcoming “Global Day of Jewish Learning” (an annual event that celebrates the completion of the famed Talmud translation by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz).
That is, Limmud features workshop-style study sessions that bring together Jews of all stripes to study just about anything in the big Jewish universe.
What distinguishes Limmud from similar events is its grassroots, non-hierarchical nature. Students can be teachers; teachers can be students. Under the Limmud model, no one has a monopoly on wisdom.
The upcoming, four-hour “Taste of Limmud” foreshadows a much larger Limmud event scheduled for February 2012 in Pacific Grove, near Monterey. We predict the idea will catch on in a big way.
Frankly, we’re surprised it took so long for the Limmud concept to reach our region. The Bay Area is home to a wealth of Jewish learning opportunities, such as those mentioned above, and seems tailor-made for the Limmud model.
Which raises a larger point. No matter how cosmopolitan and distracting modern life becomes, the Jewish people seem to never lose their hunger for old-fashioned learning. It’s likely that many Limmud participants would take this attribute for granted, but it’s worth pausing a moment to marvel over this.
With Jewish Book Month nearly upon us, this seems as good a moment as any for that pause.
Not every culture or ethnic tradition boasts this singular instinct for expanding knowledge. Though there is no simple way to account for Jewish survival over the millennia, our commitment to study surely has played a role.
Often we use the editorial page to cheerlead for various events staged by the Bay Area Jewish community. In many cases, those events can use the help. Limmud, however, falls into the category of easy sell.
Once Bay Area Jews hear about it, they will come.