Scotland's Limmud weekend

By Stephanie Brickman, February 18, 2010

Scotland was gripped by Limmud fever at the weekend with a range of educational and cultural events culminating in the main Scottish Limmud programme in Glasgow on Sunday.

Some 350 people had the choice of an increased number of sessions - up to 61 from 50 last year and made possible by skipping the lunch break.

One of the most popular presenters was culinary journalist and Israeli TV personality Gil Hovav, who rustled up an appetising tabouleh and a spicy pumkin paste.

Two sessions were led by Steven Greenberg, the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi in America. The first explored the links between theology, sexuality and humour. The second examined how shuls could reinvent themselves.

"The continuity effort here is laudible and I respect it," he said. "But sometimes that effort gets in the way of reinventing. It's wonderful to have a shul with three services but if they struggle to get 10 people, what should the synagogue do to serve new generations of Jews?"

Speakers ranged from a celebrity chef to the mother of a terror victim

Israeli visitor Ayelet Shahak spoke movingly about her 15-year-old daughter Bat-Chen, who was killed by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv in 1996. Bat-Chen's diaries offered a powerful insight into growing up in Israel in the shadow of terrorism.

Limmud events began with an oneg Shabbat featuring Rabbi Greenberg, educationist Clive Lawton and Masorti's Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg at Giffnock's Eastwood House. Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation held a Friday night dinner with Norwegian scientist Daniel Reisel and Maureen Kendler of the London School of Jewish Studies. Limmud presenters also took part in the Shabbat morning services at Newton Mearns Hebrew Congregation and Glasgow Reform Synagogue and Masorti held its first service in Scotland.

Limmud additionally sponsored the launch of the Glasgow leg of the UK Jewish Film Festival on Saturday night at the Fotheringay Centre.

Scotland Limmud chair Fiona Brodie said the weekend had been "stimulating and heartwarming. The ruach [atmosphere] on the Friday night was beautiful and the day itself was uplifting. I'm just thrilled with the pool of talented people who agreed to come to Glasgow."

Plans for Limmud Scotland 2012 are already under way.

Last updated: 6:00pm, February 18 2010