The Jewish Agency is an active participant in Limmud conferences around the world. Above is Loiusa Valitsky – Jewish Agency representative to Russian speaking communities, with her husband and daughter at the Limmud Convention in New York.
December 28, 2010 / 21 Tevet 5771
When 2,500 people convene in England this week for Limmud UK – the week-long conference of cross-communal Jewish learning – the Jewish Agency will also be there, bringing with it the diverse, significant and influential voices of Israel.
"Limmud is the most interesting and significant event in Jewish life in the UK - both in numbers and in its impact on the agenda of the community," said Polly Bronstein, head of the educational delegation of the Jewish Agency.
"We figured that since this is the one place that brings together all of the teachers, heads of school, leaders of the organized Jewish community, Jewish journalists, university professors and more – that this is the place to bring our message."
Limmud UK was established 30 years ago and is the model for over 50 Limmud groups across the world. Completely volunteer-led, the conference attracts Jews from all religious and denominational spectrums and offers classes, lectures, interactive workshops, family activities and entertainment. It is also a key incubator for Jewish ideas, culture and life.
This year, 20 people representing the Jewish Agency will attend Limmud, including shlichim (emissaries), representatives from the Education and Aliyah departments, and shinshinim in the Israeli Scouts, Israeli youth who have deferred army service for a year of volunteer work within the community.
Jewish Agency delegates representing a variety of religious and political perspectives will participate in a series of talks titled, "Talking the Tough Stuff: Israelis Debate the Country's Future."
The four sessions dealing with the "hottest" topics in Israel today, including religious conflict, the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, the Arab-Israeli conflict, will be presented as a typical family dinner, Israeli-style, with all of the delegates sitting around the table, debating and discussing.
"The delegates are a very diverse group of people," said Bronstein, "some are religious, some live over the Green Line, some are liberal, etc. We are using these delegates to show not only the diversity within Israel, but also to try to find the glue that holds them all together despite their differences."
The Jewish Agency has also invited guest lecturers and artists to lead discussions at the conference. These guest speakers include: Laizy Shapira, Creator/Director of the popular Israeli TV series Srugim, which portrays the lives of Modern Orthodox singles living in Jerusalem; Miri Eisin, a retired colonel from Israeli intelligence and former Israeli Prime Minister International Media Advisor, who is now an international news commentator on Israel, an Israeli government spokesperson and a lecturer on current Middle Eastern affairs, security and intelligence issues. A third guest is Shay Charka, an Israeli cartoonist and illustrator whose work appears every week in Makor Rishon newspaper.
The Israeli Scouts will run activities for families and children and also perform in a festive concert open to the whole conference.
The Jewish Agency will leave its mark visually, as well: through banners, sweatshirts, and flyers all bearing the slogan (and play on England's subway signs), "Don't mind the gap: Step into Israel with the Jewish Agency."
"This whole experience will be a real mifgash (cultural exchange and dialogue) between Israelis and Brits and a way for us to have a real presence in Limmud," said Bronstein.