Limmud Ottawa is one of the most interesting community events of the year. To me, it symbolizes so many aspects of Jewish life in Canada’s capital city.
Limmud is an international organization based in the United Kingdom that focuses on open, non-denominational, non-hierarchical and politics-free Jewish learning for all. The name Limmud is derived from the Hebrew word for learning.
The first event I covered about the Jewish community in Ottawa was the 2013 Limmud Ottawa event held at Congregation Beth Shalom. I was reporting for the Canadian Jewish News and the emerging generation was the focus of that article, which spotlighted a Limmud session on declining rates for synagogue attendance by young adults.
Limmud Ottawa will be held this year on Sunday, November 1, beginning at 8:30 am at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre. I recently caught up with Adam Moscoe, a member of the emerging generation, active on the Limmud Ottawa planning committee, who will be co-hosting a session about the Jewish contribution to musical theatre.
According to Moscoe, this year’s Limmud Ottawa lineup will include more than 60 speakers, covering everything from world issues, to the arts, to children’s workshops, to Ottawa’s first-ever interfaith text study led by Rabbi Steven Garten and Imam Mohamad Jebara.
Former member of Parliament and former minister of justice Irwin Cotler, actress and director Bronwyn Steinberg, and Canada’s first ambassador of Religious Freedom, Andrew Bennett, among many others, will also host sessions.
“It’s a bit crazy, but we’re doing it,” Moscoe laughed. “I think that after this year, we may be outgrowing the one day in Ottawa. We may need to think about something a little more expansive.”
The emerging generation will be a key demographic taking the opportunity to speak to their community, this year.
“There are a number of younger speakers, young professionals … who are going to be giving their reflections,” Moscoe said.
“I guess that’s what I love about Limmud, that some people don’t consider themselves professional public speakers. In fact, most people don’t, but Limmud is all about giving people a platform to just share something that they’re passionate about and connecting it to Jewish life and Jewish ideas,” he added.
In the years that I’ve been covering it, Limmud Ottawa has grown in size, complexity and diversity. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with everyone from children, teens and tweens, a range of emerging generation members, curious non-Jews taking religion or anthropology courses at university and even recent converts who were exploring how Judaism fits within their lives, and how they can contribute to the community in a meaningful way.
Every conversation was a fascinating peek into how – or whether – individuals in Ottawa’s Jewish community choose to celebrate their relationship with Judaism. As I moved from room to room (quietly, I hope) between sessions each year, I found many others were encouraged to do the same – and they did! By “voting with their feet,” organizers also got a sense of what the community was interested in learning about.
Moscoe said he hopes the next step involves partnering with Limmud in Montreal and Toronto and bringing in guest speakers from Israel, the United States, and Europe.
I’m not sure about you, but I’m going to find it very difficult to choose which sessions to attend at this year’s event. What do you want to learn or teach?
The registration fee for Limmud Ottawa is $25 for adults, $10 for students, and free of charge for those 17 and under. Attendees can come and go as they please and sit in on any talk that piques their interest.
Visit www.limmudottawa.ca for more information.