By Leon Symons
December 31, 2009
Day four was very varied. I heard Dr Efraim Zuroff talking about the new threat to the memory of the Holocaust coming from eastern Europe in a fascinating session from the director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesethal Centre. He has written four books on the Holocaust and delivered six sessions, so he was a very busy man. I am writing a news story about his lecture so I won't go into too much detail here, but Dr Zuroff is a very determined man who will carry the fight to those he perceives to be those who would diminish the significance of the Holocaust.
Then I went to another session called "Israel's legitimacy - under threat in the UK?", where a panel that included Calev Ben Dor of Israel's Reut Institute, Jeremy Newmark of the Jewish Leadership Council, Einat Wilf from the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute in Israel (another six-session presenter - Israelis have such stamina) and Mark Wolfson representing the Union of Jewish Students.
This gave a grim picture of London's influence on Palestinians, rather than the other way around, which is what most people might think. There is a growing body of evidence to show that it is London pulling the strings. There is much research going on Israel into this and other threats - such as that coming from Iran - what they mean and what their potential effects might be.
On a much more cheerful note, last night more than 1,000 people gathered in a theatre in Warwick Arts Centre, here on the university campus, for the closing gala. Here, the people at the top of the pile of volunteers that make Limmud happen gave their thanks and, in one or two cases, handed over the reins as they stepped down from senior positions, such as Elliott Goldstein, who stepped down after four years as Limmud chair. It is worth taking a moment just to consider this fact: Limmud is entirely run and produced by volunteers, people who give their time free, and what a fantastic job they have done for 29 years. They deserve huge credit for the work they have done and will do and the Anglo-Jewish community should recognise that there is a pool of talent here waiting to be tapped.
After the speeches, there was music from all the people who held music sessions and the atmosphere was quite wonderful. Don't get me wrong - this wasn't mawkish lump in the throat stuff, it was a celebration of a very intense few days that seemed much longer of being cheek by jowl with 2,500 people all of one purpose - to take another step along the path of jewish life.