The 3rd Annual Founders Dinner: A Wonderful Celebration
by Daniel Infeld
The first week of June brought an evening of learning, music, and celebration as Limmudnyks and friends from near and far gathered for our 3rd annual Founders Dinner. More than 150 people joined us at Congregation Rodeph Sholom as we celebrated the work that we do and honored four incredible leaders in Steve Kay Kupietzky, Corrine & Michael Kohlmeyer-Hyman, and Lisa Sacks.
Attendees were inspired by the music of The Epichorus and in true Limmud NY fashion, our honorees served as our teachers for the evening, inspiring everyone with tremendous words of Jewish learning and reflection.
Michael Kohlmeyer-Hyman regaled the audience with a montage of “Limmud NY” moments that illustrated the true power of Jewish learning without limits:
Where else can the daughter in an interfaith family (note – not intermarried family), born Christian, raised in a Shomer Shabbat Shomer Kashrut (Sabbath and dietary observant) household, who does not believe in God but considers herself culturally Jewish, feel comfortable exploring her spirituality with a funky Upper West Side observant Rabbi. Or sing tunes that she does not know at a tish…where else can you listen to one of the foremost Dead Sea Scroll scholars talk passionately about the Jewish calendar for 75 minutes without notes and seemingly without taking a breath? Or learn the top 20 parenting tips from the Zohar…Where else can you laugh out loud (almost embarrassingly so) with a former Irish Catholic boy named Campbell as he jokes about his 3, yes 3 conversions to Judaism and his subsequent aliyah experiences in Israel. Or laugh with an African American comedian’s as he jokes about his experiences as a Jew.
Steve Kay Kupietzky spoke with passionate conviction about the values the drive our work:
I finally found a place where Jews of all stripes got together for one purpose and that was to learn. It mattered not where you came from, what your political beliefs were, what your religious denomination nor affiliation was, or what you level of background was. it was the most utopian society of Jewish learning that i had ever encountered then or since. With no titles on name badges, and with numerous class options from one hour to the next, I could be sitting and learning with someone in chavruta one hour, and then being a student in that very same person’s class the next hour. Whether it was a text study class in Talmud, or a Parsha Hashavua class, to a movie about the Holocuast, to a music class to jewish history, it seemed like there was something for everyone…Limmud provides a forum where we can all learn & discover for ourselves and allows us as jews to take one step further on our Jewish journey where ever on that path you may find yourself at present. However, that process cannot happen by itself or on one’s own. learning together with others, and with the support of our friends and family allows us to grow both as Jews and human beings.
And Lisa Sacks brought laughter to the room with her wit while bringing to light another core value of what makes the Limmud experience so powerful:
In the past ten years I’ve made amazing friendships, learned how to be a board member, found a new career, and packed more Jewish learning into each annual conference than most people get in a lifetime. But the reason I’ve devoted so much time and energy to Limmud NY is for what it represents and this is something Sivie [Twersky] taught me: Limmud is about Klal Yisrael, Jewish peoplehood. It’s a place and time when all types of Jews come together to focus on what unites us in Jewish life teaching and learning, building community. This is the ideal Jewish world that I want for my children and my children’s children.
At the close of the dinner, Limmud NY’s executive director David Wolkin announced that thanks to the generosity of Fanya Gottesfeld Heller, Limmud NY 2014 will see the launch of Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Holocaust Education Program, dedicated to the teaching of the Holocaust to adults, teens, college students and Jewish educators at the annual Limmud NY conference. Fanya joined us as a presenter at Limmud NY 2013 and shared her film and her teaching with our community. We extend even more gratitude as Fanya’s support will allow us to expand upon the way that we learn about the Shoah at our conference and pass our stories on to the next generation.