Limmud 2009 will be the biggest ever, with almost 2,500 people from all over Britain so far signed up for Anglo-Jewry’s largest single event.
Such is the demand for this year’s conference that all the accommodation at the University of Warwick, where Limmud has been held for the past two years, has been booked already.
The organisers have held talks with the university to try to find more rooms.
Co-chair Rebecca Lester said: “The increased demand is the result of better marketing of the conference. More people have heard about us and want to take part.”
Arguably the biggest name among the huge number of presenters is Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Reform Action Centre, New York, who sits on President Obama’s council on faith-based and neighbourhood partnerships. He has been named most influential rabbi in the USA by the current affairs magazine Newsweek.
Joining him will be, among others, Richard Joel, president of Yeshiva University, New York; Michelle Citrin, a Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and YouTube star; and Rabbi Michael Melchior, a prominent social and environmental activist, former Israeli minister, MK and chief rabbi of Norway.
Also taking part will be Bernard Kops, playwright and poet; Raphael Zarum, head of faculty at London School of Jewish Studies; and Chaim Seidler-Feller, director of Hillel at the University of California and a lecturer in Talmud and kabbalah at the American Jewish University.
Other notable participants in the five-day, 800-session event include Jack Kagan, who escaped a wartime concentration camp to serve with the Jewish resistance fighters the Bielski brothers, whose story is portrayed in the recent film Defiance; and Kobi Oz, former lead singer of Israeli band Teapacks who performed at Eurovision in 2007, who will be appearing with his new band, Mizmorei Nevuchim.
Ms Lester said: “Although we try not to focus on any one thing, the theme of sustainability will be running through this year’s conference because it will be just after the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.
“We have encouraged people to try to keep the conference’s carbon footprint down, so we have reduced the number of presenters flown in by a significant amount, and invited fewer presenters from abroad.
“There will be some sessions that will include what sustainability means to the Jewish community.”
This year’s Limmud runs from December 27-31.