Take your Talmud with a shot of tequila

By Simon Rocker, December 25, 2013

It must have been the hottest class at the conference - because it came with a fiery orange cocktail of tequila, carrot juice and hot tabasco sauce.

When Rachel Kobrin, a Conservative rabbi from Austin, Texas, ran a late-night Talmud class at Limmud this week, she decided to spice things up a bit by serving drinks through the proceedings.

The tequila mix actually had a symbolic purpose: it represented the lethal gaze of Rabbi Eliezer, of whom it was said following his excommunication by his rabbinic colleagues that "whatever he set his eyes upon was burned". It certainly the fired throats of those who consumed it - they were handed chasers of Budweiser to help them cool down.

Still, there was no mistaking that this was still a serious study session which attracted a larger audience than its teacher had anticipated.

Fizzing with energy and passion for the text, Rabbi Kobrin was one of those whose reputation spread quickly through the conference.

On another day, a class on talmudic femme fatales given by London-born Gila Fine, now editor-in-chief of Maggid Books in Jerusalem, was so full that some had to sit on the steps of the lecture room.

Although she did not have enough printed source sheets go round, technology was able to come to her aid. One audience member scanned the text on a mobile phone and projected them via computer on the board behind her so that all could see.

Last updated: 10:46am, December 25 2013