Hard to believe a mere month ago we “celebrated” Tisha B’Av marking our loss of our Temple and National Home due to senseless hatred — essentially unwillingness to listen to each other. A few days later, one of the happiest days in our calendar, Tu B’Av — Festival of Love (compared by some to Valentine’s Day) was marred by senseless murder.
My daughter and her friends were at the Jerusalem Pride Parade and one friend was standing next to Shira Banki, who was stabbed by a vigilante. Once again were reminded that we have learned little in 2,000 years of Exile.
Unity in our Differences
Or maybe we are starting to?
The following Friday a virtual rainbow of community leaders including Rabbi Tamar Elad-Applebaum of the innovative spiritual Conservative Kehilat Zion, of which I am a proud member, Rabbi Beni Lau, of the Orthodox Ramban Synagogue, Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman of the Reform Kehilat Kol Haneshama Synagogue, Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Tamir Nir, and others organized a special Kabbalat Shabbat Service, Pnei Adam Nekabla (Embrace Humainty). Here is a video I made of the very moving, touching service which brought tears to my and many other eyes.
Learning from Each Other
I have always believed that every minute we can spend learning from each other will build trust and appreciation. From my university days in 1980 until my aliyah in 1988, I founded several chavurot (fellowships) in people’s homes, to gather friends, representing the spectrum from secular to every kind of religious ideology, with the common goal — to learn from each other. These groups, distinct by age and location, became an organization called Chevruta: Jewish Learning with Tolerance and an Open Mind .
After aliyah, I continued the idea as a still extant online Chevruta (as my answer to the divisive atmosphere before, during, and after the Rabin Assassination, and with a local group in Givat Ze’ev where members took turns preparing materials for open-minded study about groups of people who were different from us either in religious belief, lifestyle, abilities, or any other major or subtle ways. I’ve taught some of those sessions but have learned so much more from others and continue thirst for such opportunities.
Come to Gather
Little did I know, back in the 80s, that a group of people, with that very vision, founded Limmud in the UK … to facilitate learning from each other “in all its variety”. The founders developed an all-volunteer organization that has spread across the globe.
I am looking forward to an amazing experience as Limmud Jerusalem opens (tomorrow) Thursday – Friday 27-28 August 2015 at Jerusalem’s Herzl Center (click for directions). We are expecting more than 500 people, from diverse backgrounds. We all have something to teach each other.
As a proud volunteer on Limmud Jerusalem’s Marketing and Public Relations Committee, I am inspired by our energy. I am not a veteran of Limmud; in fact this will be my first time. Please ask any of my colleagues who have been — they will gladly share a plethora of experiences from previous Limmud gatherings in the UK, Israel, the US and all over the world.
As a lifetime facilitator of understanding and learning from each other, I believe in Limmud. This will certainly not be my last Limmud, but please join me tomorrow for my first!
Limmud has arranged childcare and special programs for kids of all ages (Young Limmud) and even delicious take-away catering options (I highly recommend them — we used to be neighbors) so we can enjoy and all who need to prepare for Shabbat. Limmud ends at 4 pm on Friday
Either way, let us come to gather and learn from each other!
See you at Limmud!
~ FE King