Ready for action: Limmud's army of volunteers lead the way to Warwick


Limmud would not exist without its core team of volunteers, the unpaid heroes who build a conference for 2,500 people from nothing.

This eternally enthusiastic group of hardcore Limmudniks spend most of the year organising the event. Heading this army of the willing are Limmud's co-chairs, Shana Boltin and Jonathan Robinson. With this year's celebration of Jewish learning only days away, they will soon know if their efforts have borne fruit.

Australian Ms Boltin, who runs a vegetarian pop-up restaurant, said: "I've been involved with Limmud for six years in this country. It is an absolute honour to be co-chair. I've been lucky enough to work with an incredibly enthusiastic and dedicated group of volunteers. It has been a challenge, but very rewarding.

"Conference is going to be fantastic. We have put together a diverse and creative programme, full of panels, debates and creative sessions, including exhibitions, dancing and cooking demonstrations."

Brondesbury Park Synagogue member Mr Robinson plans events and parties for a living as well as in his spare time.

He attended his first Limmud event four years ago. "I became seriously involved when I was catering co-chair last year," he explained. "Working together as part of a team with no hierarchy is great.

He is sad that this will be the last Limmud at Warwick University. Next year it moves to Birmingham.

"I think the site lends itself to conference. Let's leave Warwick with a bang."

The week-long event is dependent on the efforts of its "volunticipants" - volunteer participants - who co-ordinate every aspect of the conference, including food, health and safety, accommodation and programming as well as attending sessions and meeting Limmudniks from around the world.

Abigail Jacobi may be only 23, but the co-chair of programming is one of the most experienced people on the committee, with 16 years' attendance at conference behind her, having first gone when she was seven.

"My love of Limmud comes from going as a child; it's something I've grown up with, my family has been involved in, and that makes it important in terms of my Jewish identity. It's something that once you've been involved with, you can't help but want to give back to it," she said.

"I've had a couple of other roles on the conference's steering committee, but none as big as this. It's very exciting."

Jonathan Brody, a software engineer for British Airways, will hope to keep the conference free of turbulence as finance chair.

The Kingsbury United Synagogue member said: "I went to conference for five years before I started volunteering, and enjoyed it so much that I thought it'd be a good way to get more out of the event, make new friends, and have a channel for my skills outside of work."

Josh Marks, co-chair of marketing and communications, is in his sixth year of volunteering and his second on the steering committee.

The 26-year-old said: "I work in a fairly high-pressured City job, and was looking for a practical way to apply some of the skills I have developed. I believe Limmud's educational mission is an important one. Limmud empowers its volunteers to take responsibility and really run the organisation.

"Together with my co-chair, we have spent 10-20 hours a week since April, and considerably more in the last few weeks, designing a promotion strategy."

He and the other volunteers will not have to wait long now to see the results of all that hard slog.

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