By Sheridan Gayer There was something magical in the air at the 8th annual Limmud NY conference. In bringing together so many different kinds of Jews from so many generations, nearly half of whom were first time attendees, we were able to create a welcoming sense of community which permeated our four day conference with over 600 participants. The Limmud NY opening event encouraged Limmudnyks to participate in discussions l’shem shamayim, in honor of holiness, and that ethos was certainly evident throughout the impromptu gatherings and diverse programming. With over 300 sessions offered, there’s no wonder why it was called extraordinary. When we asked our participants what made their Limmud experience special one shared my favorite trick. She split up with a friend, they each attended a session that appealed to them and then reported back to one another. We also wondered about our veterans. When asked what keeps her coming back Katy Schwalbe, one of the co-chairs of Limmud NY 2012 reminded me that “the things that first draw you to Limmud aren’t necessarily the same ones that bring you back. I was initially excited by the sessions and the presenters, but it’s the wonderful community and the friends I’ve made that keep me coming six years later. There aren’t many places where you can find such a diverse cross-section of the Jewish community.” Broadening our community beyond New York City and state, participants joined us from New Jersey, Boston, Dallas, LA, and internationally from Paris, Budapest, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem among others. We’re now exploring a few new ideas for volunteer recruitment and involvement in the coming year. And through a grant from the Covenant Foundation over the next 3 years (together with Limmuds Atlanta+SE, Colorado and LA) we will establish a diverse community of emerging Jewish educators for professional development within the Limmud model of engagement, learning, and growth. This piece originally appeared in the April 2012 Limmud International Newsletter, which you can read here. *** Sheridan Gayer is a long-time Limmud NY volunteer and served as one of the 2012 conference co-chairs.
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