Our Jewish heritage values community, education and tradition. Yet how often, outside of the High Holidays, do we gather as a community of over 700 Jews with the sole agenda of connecting with each other, and our faith, to share, study and celebrate?
LimmudBoston’s fifth annual day-long celebration of lifelong learning on December 7 was just such an occasion, and it was thrilling for the Journal to be there.
The menu of 85 classes clearly proclaimed that we were part of something bigger than ourselves, and that “something” could only be described as being in love with being Jewish.
Rabbis and scholars explored Biblical, Talmudic and contemporary sources. “What’s So Jewish About the News” looked at the top stories in 2014. Classes in spirituality, prayer, parenting, Jewish identity and modern and historic Israel sparked lively debates.
Throughout the day, common themes surfaced: Jews are inclusive; Jews value diversity; vigorous debate is encouraged, but conflict is not; Jews seek a life of meaning; and Jews look to make a difference.
Common questions surfaced, too. The two most often repeated included, “How do we light the spark of a love of Judaism in the next generation? How do we attract the unaffiliated?”
One way might be to make sure everyone has the opportunity to experience an event like LimmudBoston. It is impossible not to come away feeling energized and hopeful. A smaller version of the event could travel to other communities. Campus Hillels could organize transportation so their students could attend. Synagogues could organize field trips for their members and offer free tuition.
One thing is certain: during these tough times of anti-Semitism and attacks against Jews, it is a challenge to remain optimistic about our future. The task of everyone who attended LimmudBoston 2014 is to keep the spark going by spreading their enthusiasm to their communities, friends and families. Like the Hanukkah candles we will soon be lighting, LimmudBoston is a light in the winter darkness.
This originally appeared in the Jewish Journal on December 11, 2014.