“Big tent” of Jewish learning, Limmud opens to region on March 18

Limmud, a weekend festival of Big Tent Jewish learning, arts, culture and spirituality, returns to New Orleans the weekend of March 18.

Limmudfest includes a Kabbalat Shabbat and dinner at Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie on March 18. On March 19, there will be Shabbat services in a variety of styles at Gates of Prayer and Beth Israel, a luncheon, learning sessions and Havdalah. The events will be kosher and Shabbat-observant, and home hospitality can be arranged for those who are Shabbat-observant or from out of town.

The sessions move to the Lavin-Bernick Center on Tulane University’s campus on March 20. The weekend starts at 5 p.m. on March 18 and concludes at 5 p.m. on March 20.

During the weekend, there will be over 90 presentations in 10 tracks, including arts and culture, contemporary Jewish life and identity, family, history, Israel, social justice, Southern Jewish life, spirituality, text and thought, and food. There is no signing up for sessions, just dropping in on whatever sounds good.

There will also be a lineup of children’s programming for ages 4 to 12, and babysitting for ages 1 to 3, so parents can attend whatever sessions they like.

Limmud is part of a global movement inspired by the idea that when Jews from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate and learn about everything Jewish, the entire community is enriched. It also emphasizes that everyone is a learner, so those presenting are encouraged to operate under that principle.

Led entirely by volunteers, New Orleans Limmud began in 2010 and is held every other year. Organizers look at Limmud as a regional event, and as an example, Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile is organizing a group to attend.

Among the featured international, national and local speakers will be Jay Michaelson, Katherine Romanow and Danny Siegel.

A lawyer, rabbi, and teacher of jhana meditation, Michaelson helps steer the Jewish communal discussion with his writings on mindfulness, LGBT issues, religious liberty and the law. A columnist for The Daily Beast and The Forward, he has written five books, including “God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness, and Embodied Spiritual Practice,” “God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality,” and his latest, “The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path,” which is about the place of sadness in Buddhist and Jewish spirituality.

Romanow is a Jewish food historian from Montreal. She is the curator of Beyond the Bagel, a Jewish food walking tour given through the Museum of Jewish Montreal, and is a co-founder of The Wandering Chew, a project that explores the diversity of Jewish food cultures through pop-up dinners and cooking workshops. Romanow is curating an upcoming exhibit on Southern Jewish food at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

Siegel is one of the world’s greatest experts on microphilanthropy. For more than 30 years he has lectured in hundreds of communities on the topic of personalized Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam, and has written over 30 books of poetry and on practical tzedakah.

Joel Hoffman will also speak at Limmud. He is a popular speaker on Biblical translation and is chief translator for the 10-volume series “My People’s Prayer Book.” His most recent book is “The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor: The Holy Scriptures Missing From Your Bible,” and in February “The Bible Doesn’t Say That: 40 Biblical Mistranslations, Misconceptions and Other Misunderstandings” will be released.

Also scheduled are historian Stuart Rockoff, formerly director of the history department at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life and now the executive director of the Mississippi Humanities Council; Randy Fertel, president of both the Fertel Foundation and the Ruth U. Fertel Foundation and author of “The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak”; and authors Rodger Kamenetz, Michael Rubin and Nechama Liss-Levenson. There will also be a presentation by Southern Jewish Life editor Larry Brook.

Registration is now open for Limmud New Orleans 2016. Early bird prices expire January 31st.

Early-bird registration is available through Jan. 31. Three-day passes are $75 for adults, $40 for young adults ages 18 to 30 and $15 for children. The one-day pass for Saturday evening and Sunday are $50 for adults, $25 for young adults and $10 for children. Registration rates go up on Feb. 1.

In December, Touro Synagogue held a Taste of Limmud Shabbat, and on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m., Anshe Sfard will hold a Limmud-themed Study with a Buddy night with Rabbis David Polsky and Alexis Pinsky.

Registration and updates are available here.