Has anyone read this? Why hasn't it made the front page!

By Rabbi Zvi
July 25, 2010


I find the whole thing hard to believe. Here I am going to Limmud every year - I have made more of a contribution in the past 15 years than the Chief Rabbi because I actually attend (unlike most Orthodox Colleagues) and he's claiming responsibility for the whole thing. Hardly what one might call an honest assessment of the situation. Does the Chief ever look at his term of office through the eyes of his constituents? I am surprised that the JC hasn't really made very much of this - it's outrageous.


Jonathan Hoffman

Mon, 07/26/2010 - 19:07

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Rabbi Zvi

I read it. You may be interested in this letter, an edited version of which appeared in the Jewish Tribune on Friday:

"You report that "a swingeing attack on Limmud" was made by Rabbonim at last week's 'Ask the Rabbi' session at King David High School in Liverpool.

I was one of the Presenters at Limmud in Liverpool on 2 May. The programme and organisation were outstanding - possibly the best of any of the five Limmuds where I have spoken. At least a fifth of the programme was about Talmud, Tenach, Jewish Law and Midrash so assuming your report is accurate, the Rabbonim had no cause for complaint whatsoever. How can it be bad when 500 Jews - including many young people - enjoy studying topics of Jewish interest in a kosher environment? It is always open to the Rabbonim to organise their own study days - I hope they manage to attract 500 also.

As for Rabbi Kofnas' comment that "the Office of the Chief Rabbi will not formally support Limmud", someone needs to draw his attention to this comment of Lord Sacks on the "Big Think" blog (12 July): "......we have something called Limmud where almost 3,000 young people come together to study for a week at the end of the year, studying 600 different courses. Now Limmud has been exported to 47 other places in the world from Moscow to New York and Los Angeles and almost everywhere else, so we have a very vibrant cultural life, which we didn’t have before."

If that is not "support" - I'm a Catholic.


Best wishes

Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 07/27/2010 - 05:00

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Jewish Telegraph


Jewish Tribune

Rabbi Zvi

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 10:48

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My letter to the Jewish Telegraph about their article as follows:

Dear Sir,

I am astounded at the nerve of those rabbis who criticized the hugely successful Liverpool Limmud Day Conference this year as not having enough proper Torah education. With one breath they slam a wonderful Jewish cultural event and condemn it for not containing what they wish to promote, and at the same time they boycott it and refuse to provide the very educational opportunities they claim they wish to see dominating the agenda. This is utter chutzpah – how can you deplore the lack of something which you yourself refuse to supply. Dear Colleagues, if you have something constructive to contribute, then turn up and contribute it; Limmud is nothing more than an open shuk, where you will find that most of the participants are your own Membership. If you wish to complain, don’t whine about something which you yourselves are causing through your own self-destructive dog-in-the-manger attitude. Those of us who are able to attend Limmud do so precisely in order to provide the balance and Torah Judaism you Limmud “mitnaggedim” refuse to serve up to your own Membership.

Rabbi Cofnas’ hard-line approach will not have endeared him to most of the community, and he explicitly says that he is not bothered about that. However, a non-Judgemental approach, which takes human beings as being human and does not terminally condemn them for making what we Orthodox rabbis consider poor choices, will yield far better fruit than a blanket statement of fundamental repudiation. The decline of a community cannot all be laid at the feet of inalterable circumstance. Pushing people out of one’s community by failing to recognize the good as well as noting the bad is one way to ensure long-term failure. The family members of those so pushed away will take note and find other places in which to vest their Jewishness. Limmud is one of those, particularly with young people. I wish him a happy retirement in Prestwich.

I particularly encourage Rabbi Pollack, who is new to the Jewish scene in the UK, to learn more and participate in Limmud. He should follow the Chief Rabbi’s openly-voiced advice to his Rabbis – if you are able to go, you should go. Limmud is an “open-source” event. The only reason there is not a strong Orthodox voice in it is that, as with the Chareidi approach to the Board of Deputies, there has been a boycott of the organization. If any Orthodox Rabbi seriously agrees with such an abdication from the world, one wonders what they are doing in a shul outside the Chareidi community. Where, in our modern Rabbinate, is the Hirschian value of Torah im Derech Eretz?

Rabbi Zvi Solomons



Tue, 08/03/2010 - 13:12

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And those of us who have been to Limmud in other countries where communal politics is different will know it is not only attended by Orthodox Rabbis but by Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis.
Limmud is naturally counter-cultural, in the UK this means it has originally attracted much leadership from Reform and Masorti communities (as well as from all others!). In the USA where Orthodox communities make a smaller percentage of the population they are often over represented at Limmud whereas some large USA Reform communities tend to ignore it as irrelevant to them!


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