Close-on 600 people had the choice of more than 150 educational sessions over the Bank Holiday as Limmud Fest was staged in a new location in the heart of the Kent countryside.
Many of the events took place outdoors or under canvas and, interviewed afterwards by Chris Evans on his Radio 2 show, Rabbi Pete Tobias described the scene as “like something from the Bible and something that would have made Hillel proud”.
Presenters from the UK and abroad covered topics such as food, environmentalism, sexuality and tikkun olam, using traditional and contemporary sources.
The study sessions were supplemented by cultural and creative activities — dance, yoga and writing workshops and a diverse musical programme. Performers included Israeli stars Coolooloosh and Mika Karni and American “chick rocker” Naomi Less, who also ran workshops encouraging participants to both express themselves and explore their Jewish identity through music. The “Rebbetzins’ Silent Disco” proved hugely popular, with 400-plus Fest-goers dancing under the stars until the early hours.
Culinary-wise, there were opportunities to sample food from Bible times and to produce kosher organic wine and beer. Practical types were shown how to build a succah from recycled scrap.
Participants came from as far afield as America, Israel, Mexico, Hungary, and even Transylvania.
Limmud Fest co-chair Avra Stein described it as “a celebration of Jewish learning and of the creativity of the Jewish community without the usual divisions of age, affiliation or geography. It’s hugely rewarding to be part of a community where people learn and teach each other without preconceptions.”