Shabbat at Limmud NY: Our Philosophy
Bringing together hundreds of diverse Jews is an enormous challenge. How do we respect and respond to Limmud NY participants’ different religious preferences and needs, while trying to build a single Jewish community over the course of Shabbat and the conference as a whole? Individuals will vary in age, home community, observance, interest in observance, Jewish knowledge, and comfort with Jewish tradition, among many things.
Our approach to Shabbat reflects the principles of Limmud NY itself:
- We want each person to feel fully and equally part of our community;
- We want to foster a sense of love and celebration for Jewish life, learning, and community in all of its diversity;
- We want to create a sense of community where the whole is more than just the sum of our parts;
- We want to end Shabbat feeling invigorated and excited to begin the week and to continue learning and celebrating at Limmud NY;
- We hope and expect that the range of people’s observance or non-observance will be wide—we don’t that imagine anyone will want to celebrate Shabbat the same way.
Thankfully, we’re heir to a tradition which famously teaches, “You are not required to complete the task…” We take comfort in this because it means we may not achieve a perfect resolution of all these. On the other hand, this teaching continues “…but neither are you free to desist from it!” We’re obligated to think creatively and thoughtfully to seek to resolve as many potential challenges as we possibly can.
Here are a few examples of what this will mean in practice:
- Our food will be kosher and there will be an eruv (a designation that we are within a single, “private” area, for those who would not carry things on Shabbat without one being present);
- In public spaces which cater to the entire group, Limmud NY will adhere to traditional Shabbat observance (for instance, electricity or musical instruments will not be used);
- In individual sessions, we’ll offer a wide spectrum of options, reflecting the range of participants we expect to attract;
- There will be religious services of different sorts over Shabbat, as well as a wide range of other programming. We want the diversity of our programming to reflect the many different sorts of ways that Jewish people may choose to celebrate Shabbat.
Our overall goal is simply to create a beautiful Shabbat, in which there are sessions and options for the full range of participants. We hope you’ll become part of a cooperative and pluralistic community that will be joyful, restful, stimulating, and inclusive. Most of all, we’ll strive to create Shabbat Shalom—a Shabbat of peace.