WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jewish community’s fourth annual Limmud weekend (March 1-2) will feature a wide variety of speakers and topics, including Israel advocacy, Jewish history, religion, culture, art and dance.
The list of speakers combines local members of the community with those from Toronto, New York and other American cities.
“I’m really looking forward to hearing Craig Dershowitz,” says Juliana Birek, one of the Limmud organizers.
Dershowitz is the executive director of Artists 4 Israel, a New York-based charity and pro-Israel advocacy organization that works with artists in all artistic media to educate people worldwide about Israel.
He will be leading sessions on Israel advocacy through culture and art.
Last year, the One Israel Fund presented him with the Shomer Yisrael Award, and in 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented Dershowitz with an award for his advocacy work on behalf of Israel.
Others speaking about Israel advocacy will be Gary Kenzer, the executive director of Honest Reporting USA, which focuses on challenging biased and inaccurate reports in the media about Israel, and Bernie Bellan, the publisher/editor of Winnipeg’s Jewish Post and News, who will be speaking Shurat HaDin, an Israeli legal organization that fights terrorism and anti-Israel activities internationally through the courts.
Another speaker will be Josh Morry, a University of Manitoba law student who, for the first time in North America last year, persuaded the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) Council to revoke the student group status of the anti-Zionist group, Students Against Israeli Apartheid.
Representatives of New Israel Fund include Isser Dubinsky, the immediate past president of New Israel Fund of Canada; Atarah Derrick, national outreach associate for New Israel Fund of Canada, and Samara Carroll, who, this past year, was the first-ever Canadian New Israel Fund social justice fellow. This year, she lived and worked in Tel Aviv at a community agency that provided social support and services to Eritrean and Sudanese refugees.
Haskel Greenfield, professor of anthropology, co-director of the Near Eastern and Biblical Archaeology Laboratory (NEBAL) and co-ordinator of Judaic studies at the University of Manitoba (and St. Paul’s College), will be commenting on Chanukah from an archeological perspective.
Alejandro Baer, director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota, will be leading of couple of Holocaust-related sessions, and Kinzey and Avi Posen (father and son) will be recounting their roots trip back to Poland last year with Saul Fink, Avi’s grandfather and Kinzey’s father-in-law.
Of local historical interest, Stan Carbone, director of programs and exhibits for the Jewish Heritage Centre, will speak about the JHC’s current exhibit, A Stitch in Time, along with Susan Turner, the exhibit and graphic designer and assistant curator for the exhibit, an overview of Winnipeg’s garment industry from a Jewish perspective.
Other out-of-town presenters include Jewish educators Rabbi Charles and Lori Grysman, Judaica artists Laya Crust and Marilynne Cass and storyteller Aubrey Davis, as well as Karel Skripal Jr., whose father helped develop the Israeli martial art form Krav Maga.
Limmud is a grassroots movement that started in London 30 years ago to foster Jewish learning. In the last 12 years, it has spread all over the world. There are now Limmud programs in Toronto, several American cities, Brazil, Argentina, Cape Town, Johannesberg and Durban in South Africa, and throughout Europe and Israel
Birek reports that about 350 Winnipeggers registered for Limmud Winnipeg last year. “We are hoping to have at least as many, if not more, in attendance this year,” she says.
Among the communal sponsors for Limmud Winnipeg are the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Chesed Shel Emes, Congregation Etz Chayim, Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, Herzlia Adas Yeshurun Synagogue, Rady JCC, Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education, PJ Library and Temple Shalom.