Limmud New Orleans announces speaker lineup for March 18 weekend

Limmud New Orleans early bird registration has been extended to Feb. 15, and the full roster of speakers has been announced — though the actual schedule will not be finalized until mid-February.

Limmud is a regional weekend festival of Big Tent Jewish learning, arts, culture and spirituality, bringing Jews from diverse background together to study everything from theology and texts to culture, social justice and history. It will be held March 18 to 20.

Limmud Co-Chairs Lynne Wasserman and Ann Kientz said programming is offered for all ages and levels of experience in Jewish learning, with over 80 sessions to choose from. There is also a children’s track.

National speakers include Joel Hoffman, author of the new “The Bible Doesn’t Say That: 40 Biblical Mistranslations, Misconceptions and Other Misunderstandings”; Montreal Jewish food historian Katherine Romanow; and “Mitzvah maven” and poet Danny Siegel.

Lila Kagedan, the first person ordained at the Orthodox women’s seminary Yeshivat Maharat to take the title of rabbi and be hired in that role by an Orthodox synagogue, will present two sessions — one on the Jewish position on organ donation, and one on Orthodox women and Jewish religious leadership.

Local rabbis from across the spectrum will present, as will Rabbi Dana Kaplan, who is interim rabbi at Mobile’s Springhill Avenue Temple this year. Kaplan previously was rabbi of B’nai Israel in Albany, Ga., and United Congregation of Israelites in Jamaica.

Rabbi Steven Silberman of Ahavas Chesed in Mobile will also present, discussing “Terrorism and Text.”

Rabbi Mark Glickman, interim rabbi at Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge, will discuss his new book, “Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books.” Barry Ripps of Pensacola, who has a private practice in fertility issues, will compare Biblical accounts of infertility with today’s responses.

Barry Ivker, formerly of New Orleans and now living in Birmingham, will discuss the art form of collage. In 2000, he published a Haggadah with 111 collage images, 13 of which were exhibited at the New Orleans Museum of Art in 2002.

Efraim Chalamish, a professor of international economic law in New York, will present on how financial markets shape political movements such as ISIS and BDS, and will discuss lawfare, the Israel-Palestinian conflict as it plays out in international courts.

Chicago Oak Park Temple Rabbi Emeritus Gary Gerson will speak about Kabbalah, and Hazzan Neil Schwartz, who serves Agudath Achim in Shreveport, will show how the musical notation of Torah reading conveys meaning.

Becci Jacobs, assistant director of the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, will lead a session on cultivating Jewish identity in children outside the synagogue walls. There will also be several presentations demonstrating the racial diversity of the Jewish community.

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 begins at 5 p.m. on March 18 at Gates of Prayer in Metairie. There will be Kabbalat Shabbat and dinner that evening. On March 19, there will be Shabbat services at Gates of Prayer in a variety of styles. Learning will continue through the day, with Havdalah and an evening program.

Most of the sessions will be on March 20 at the Lavin-Bernick Center on Tulane University’s campus, running from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The events will be kosher and Shabbat-observant, and home hospitality within walking distance of Gates of Prayer can be arranged for those who are Shabbat-observant.

The presentations will be 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.

Led entirely by volunteers, New Orleans Limmud began in 2010 and is held every other year.

With early-bird rates, 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. 16.

More information, including the full list of presentations, is here.