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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some disconnected thoughts

So far Limmud totally rocks.

Of course, I feel like a dinosaur and am having a bit of trouble identifying accents.  At dinner friday night I was seated with two pretty girls who I assumed were British and Irish respectively (I didn't look closely at their badges).  Turns out the suspected Brit was originally from Berlin and the Irish girl was from Amsterdam.  The Chap on my left who was from London was very nice and explained some of the finer points of accent recognition (and the importance of accent in British social pigeon-holing).

I'm not sure what I was expecting from Limmud, but it is almost (but not quite) a throw-back to my Reform synagogue youth group days. Very earthy-crunchy, touchy feely... and refreshingly free of judgment.

Not that everyone here is Reform (or Liberal, as they call it here).  There is actually a fairly nice distribution of Liberal, Masorti (Conservative) and Orthodox Jews here... with separate minyanim for each group's services, but kashrut and shabbat being observed according to the standard with which everyone can feel comfortable; orthodox.

It is actually quite touching to see the lengths to which people here will go in order to make sure not to insult or impinge upon anyone's sensibilities.

Limmud Shabbat had 'only' about 700-800 people, with lots of sessions, singing, meals, etc. together.  During the week there will be several thousand people!

I haven't been around long enough to sense whether this camaraderie and apparent unity among Britain's Jews is genuine or a temporarily agreed upon truce for the sake of Limmud.  But even if it is simply a truce, it is very nice to know that such things are possible.

I gave my first session this morning... on Aliyah.  It went well, but was sparsely attended (relatively speaking).  Nice group and sensible questions at the end.  But I sense that Aliyah is not a huge issue with this crowd.

In more exciting news, I got to sit and chat with Ruthie Blum Leibowitz and her husband a few minutes ago.  I've been reading her stuff for years and am a big fan.  So when I spotted her (she's also presenting a few sessions here at Limmud), I couldn't resist going over and saying hello (total fanboy moment).

She and her husband were very pleasant, and when Ruthie heard where I was from she turned to him and said, "Thank G-d, I thought we were the only 'right wing fanatics' here!" (I may be slightly misquoting her, but that was certainly the gist).  I had to agree, since the vast majority of Jews I have met so far are either vaguely anti-Israel or apologetically pro-Israel (as in, I support Israel, but...).

Overall I'm having a great time (even thought I miss my wife and kids something terrible), and hope to have more good things to report.


Posted by David Bogner on December 27, 2009 | Permalink


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What possible excuse do you have for failing to recognise a Brit accent ?

Posted by: britac | Dec 27, 2009 6:43:23 PM

We have Reform as well as Liberal/Progressive.

Different shuls, services, burial grounds, etc.

Posted by: chairwoman | Dec 27, 2009 7:18:18 PM

It is actually quite touching to see the lengths to which people here will go in order to make sure not to insult or impinge upon anyone's sensibilities.That's British sensitivity for you Trep.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Dec 27, 2009 10:11:26 PM

britac... Somehow I knew you'd chime in. :-) In my defense, the German girl had been living in London since she was in her late teens, and even the Londoner to my left said that her accent was nearly perfect English (a general accent, not specific to any one area). The Dutch girl is harder to explain. Maybe something about the way she leaned on her Rs. What can I say?

Ilana-Davita... Sadly, they aren't shy about tossing around the 'o' bomb (occupation). That seems to be something that everyone can get together and agree on.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 27, 2009 10:36:58 PM

how many sessions are you giving? what are your other topics?

Posted by: RivkA | Dec 28, 2009 12:53:01 AM

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