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Sarah Silverman


Every year over Labor Day weekend, Jews of all backgrounds and ages, abilities and identities, from all over the southeast and beyond gather among the beautiful scenery in the north Georgia mountains for a weekend of learning and community. Throughout the holiday weekend, attendees participate in sessions that, this year, included learning about Jewish art, Sephardic cooking, preparing for the High Holidays, Jewish (and Jew-ish) music, social justice, medical innovation, and more. Beyond that, it is an opportunity to connect and be Jewish in a diverse and open environment.


The word Limmud (לימוד) comes from the Hebrew word “to learn.” Originally started in England in 1980, Limmud has expanded throughout the world. Limmud Atlanta-Southeast started as day-long events 15 years ago by our very own Jodi Mansbach and Eric Robbins, and then expanded to the 3-night LimmudFest that is now held at Ramah Darom in Clayton, GA. 


CSI had a great showing this year with more than 65 individuals from our community joining, fifteen of whom also presented in sessions. Some CSI members are invested in Limmud all year round. Howie Slomka served as this year’s co-chair and is the president of the Limmud Board, and Adina Rudisch is on staff. In addition, Young Adult Development Program (YAD) cohort members belong to Shearith Israel: Chidera Anugwom, Simone Graff, and Abby Graff. 


These statistics do not convey the spirit of Limmud, however. The mission, in short, is “to celebrate Jewish life and learning in all of its diversity.” Everyone is welcome and everyone is accommodated. The food is kosher and food for special diets is offered. Over Shabbat everyone is welcome to participate in services ranging from a mechitza minyan to an egalitarian minyan to Shabbat morning musical experience to communing with nature. Gender neutral bathrooms are conveniently located. American Sign Language translators are present to aid participants and presenters. There is something for everyone at Limmud. 


This year we were blessed with abundant rain over the weekend. For me, it was a deterrent to schlep back and forth to my cabin. So every morning I made one trip to the ḥadar oḥel (dining hall) with everything I would need for the day, and when I was not in a session or a meal, I sat down in a rocking chair on the front porch, southern style. The porch is the hangout for schmoozing, playing music, listening to a PJ Library bedtime story, making friendship bracelets or reading peacefully. If sitting still is not your preference, go for a hike to the waterfall, a swim or boat ride on the lake, climb the Alpine Tower or join a soccer game on the field.


At Limmud, participation is one of the core values. Volunteerism or “volunticipation” is how everything gets done whether it is leading a session or doing shmira at the cabins. Don’t offer suggestions to do something differently or add your flair to the programming unless you are willing to lead it yourself. That is the kind of community it is at Limmud.


Whether you come to learn, to see friends or make new ones, to deepen your Jewish identity or something else, you will surely find it at LimmudFest. If not, I invite you to create it yourself and join us next Labor Day weekend!

Wed, April 17 2024 9 Nisan 5784