TORONTO — Limmud, an international Jewish learning festival that promotes Judaism’s rich history, culture and heritage, will present 85 rabbis, professors and community leaders who will speak about issues relevant to Toronto’s young professionals.
Limmud Toronto, which was founded in 2007 by a British-born volunteer named Peter Sevitt and modelled after Britain’s 30-year-old Limmud educators’ conference attended by about 2,500 people annually, will be held March 8 at the Alliance Francaise Toronto.
“This is a very diverse program with an emphasis on young adults, on speakers that would attract young adults,” said Sara Dobner, Limmud Toronto’s programming co-chair, adding that this is the first Limmud event in Toronto since 2009.
“It’s a grassroots, non-profit organization, which is dedicated to connecting Jews of all ages and affiliations through volunteerism and cross-communal learning.”
Dobner said there will be nine concurrent sessions running each hour, in nine different categories.
Topics will include art, music, the Bible and Talmud, Israel, health, Jewish history, Jewish identity and education, Jewish values and philosophy, social activism and politics, and literature.
“So each hour, if one wants to attend sessions about Israel only, or Jewish culture, they can go along with one category throughout the day. Everyone can find whatever they’re interested in,”
Dobner also praised her programming co-chair, Rebecca Ihilchik, with whom she worked very closely to bring a diversity of subject matter to the event.
“Each one of us brought a different perspective to the program. I brought a lot of Israeli-related programs… Rebecca brought a lot of speakers to promote inclusion and feminism, so she put panels together on these issues,” she said.
“That’s why were able to put together such a diverse program that would be inclusive and everyone will be able to find something in it.”
Some of the sessions offered include “Inside The CJN” with CJN editor Yoni Goldstein; “Is Religion Killing Judaism?” presented by Jews for Judaism’s director of education Rabbi Michael Skobac; and “What Does Judaism Say About the Afterlife?” with Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, spiritual leader of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto.
“One session is with DJ Schneeweiss, Israel’s consul general, and it’s an open discussion. It’s everything you want to ask,” Dobner said.
There will also be panel discussions, such as “Judaism and Feminism – Challenges, Triumphs, and the Future;” and “Special Needs Inclusion in the Jewish Community.”
Dobner will be moderating a panel discussion called “When Tel Aviv Meets Toronto: Complementing or Clashing Cultures?”
“This will be a session in Hebrew, and it will bring different people, all Israeli, to talk about different aspects of their experience about the different cultures and how they interact,” she said.
“I think this event is very unique because it is one day where people can take the time and devote the day to learning… It’s a great way to meet people and mingle and to learn from each other.”
The presenters themselves are among the 500 participants that are expected to attend.
Organizers of the day-long conference will also accommodate young families by offering programming for kids between four and 12 years old.
Dobner said she hopes Limmud Toronto will become an annual event.
For more information and to register, visit www.limmud.ca.