When it comes to Jewish learning, the Diaspora normally looks to Jerusalem for inspiration. But, Jerusalem residents have taken their lead from Britain, and run their own Limmud conference.
Speakers spanned the religious spectrum from the Charedi politician Rabbi Haim Amsalem to Reform activist Rabbi Uri Regev, head of the Hiddush movement that critiques the Charedi community.
Around 500 people attended the daylong conference, which was the first mainstream Limmud event in Jerusalem (there have been some special events for immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in the past).
“I attended three Limmud UK winter events and one summer event and they moved me like virtually nothing in Israel had done before,” said Nadia Levene, a British immigrant to Israel, explaining why she organised the event. “I realised that this was what Jerusalem needed. In these times of religious angst between Jewish stream and after our summer of discontent, we needed some unity, some open discussion.”
Author David Hazony, one of the speakers, admitted: “I was initially skeptical whether it was possible to replicate the success of Limmud UK in Jerusalem, mostly because there is such a wealth of Jewish learning options in the Israeli capital.” But he said that the “sense of openness and mutual respect which is unique to Limmud events across the globe” made it a success.