Following a representative participation in the regional Limmud China in Beijing in 2012 and in Shanghai in 2013, the Indian Jewish community of Mumbai created their own local event in early November 2013. With the sponsorship of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), this community’s inaugural Limmud event drew in 115 adults and 17 children as registered participants. A parallel Young Limmud kept the children occupied while the adults took full advantage of the opportunity to learn, engage and socialize in the dynamic environment that they created for themselves.
As community member and Limmud organizer Florence Haeems explains, she was interested in helping bring Limmud to the community because she was attracted to the idea of being able to present a session, participate in other sessions and then to also volunteer. And this is exactly what the Limmud experience is about. As Haeems says, “it beautifully comes together.”
The nine individual sessions while presenting wider Jewish issues and topics, also were representative of a very distinct local flavor. Key sessions included topics such as: Healthy Jewish Cooking, a Panel Discussion on Successful Jews in Business and session on the Future of the Indian Jewish community.
The event was an incredible unifying force and a source of positive energy for Jewish India on both an individual and a communal level. Individual participants felt empowered by the increased sense of ownership that they gained over their own Jewish learning and were likewise inspired by truly being part of something so much greater.
As Nurith Samuel, another organizer explained, “I experienced Limmud in all its exuberance during the earlier half of this year at Shanghai. What I loved about Limmud was the feeling of being involved, accepted and responsible for the program, starting right at the registration desk itself! As both a participant and volunteer at Limmud, I was responsible for my own learning as well as ensuring that my co-participants and volunteers had positive learning outcomes. This feeling of being responsible for oneself as well as others in your environment pushed me into thinking about organizing a Limmud India. As part of the small Bene Israel community in Mumbai, I have come to value the idea of being responsible for others and hope that at the end of Limmud India some participants come to value this idea too.”
Overall, Salome Abraham, JDC staff member as well as a Limmud team member/ organizer summarized, “An event like Limmud India brings together people of ages and backgrounds. For the first time, we witnessed young professionals, accomplished businessmen, children, families, and college students all together under one roof…It was a chance for this community to strengthen the network of Jewish individuals who come together from time to time to celebrate their Jewish identity and feel responsible for their people and take steps in that direction.”