Limmud Ottawa 2020 to offer speakers from near and far

UPDATE -- March 12, 2020: Limmud Ottawa, scheduled to take place March 15, has announced that it has been postponed until further notice due to COVID-19 concerns.


Limmud Ottawa 2020 to offer speakers from near and far

By Louise Rachlis

For Limmud Ottawa

Dozens of fascinating speakers will provide lots to talk about and lots of fun at Limmud Ottawa 2020, a day of Jewish learning, on Sunday, March 15.

Speakers are coming from nearby and from around the world, from anthropologist Rohee Dasgupta offering “Perspectives on Jewishness and India Jewish Identity,” to environmental psychologist Mirele B. Goldsmith on “From Moses to Greta: Leadership lessons for facing up to climate change.”

The fun and games includes canasta, a favourite pastime of Jewish women, many of whom have played for decades with the same people. Avid canasta players Hinda Packard and Nancy Kaplan, authors of Can(am)asta: The Official Handbook, will teach about the game’s history and techniques, and afterward, lead the play at a canasta demonstration station.

Timely and topical, one of the panels will be “Weighing in on Quebec’s Bill 21,” with panelists Robert Barsky, Canada research chair in law and legal studies at Carleton University; Richard Marceau, vice-president (external affairs) and general counsel of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs; and Yasir Naqvi, CEO of the Institute of Canadian Citizenship and a former MPP and attorney general of Ontario.

The all-day Limmud event will cover many vital topics of the Jewish world and beyond, from ethical aspects of the environment, the soul, and global antisemitism, to Jewish food – “The History of Bagels from Europe to North America” – and kosher beer.

Daniel Oore of Memorial University in Newfoundland and his mother, Irene Oore of Dalhousie University will present “Genocide and Improvisation: Listener and Teller.”

There is also a Montreal connection for Ottawa’s Limmud 2020. Rabba Rachel Kohl Finegold of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim and her husband, Rabbi Avi Finegold, interim rabbi of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, are both participating, sharing their knowledge and community spirit with Limmud Ottawa.

Rabba Rachel Kohl Finegold, director of education and spiritual enrichment at Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal, will discuss end-of-life narratives in the Torah at Limmud Ottawa 2020.


One Ottawa connection is Baruch Sienna who will speak on “Judaism and the Environment: Beyond Bal Tashkhit.” Born and raised in Ottawa, he believes that Judaism’s ancient texts have many valuable lessons concerning “consumerism, sustainability and stewardship.” He’ll explore the natural world through the lens of classical Jewish texts and point out what they can teach us.

“Limmud participants come from very diverse backgrounds, religious affiliations, age, gender, religious practice, nationality, and level of Jewish knowledge,” said Jenny Roberge, an Ottawa mashgiach and one of the founders of Limmud Ottawa.

There will even be “Young Limmud” programs for kids aged six-to-12 and 13-to-15 from 9 am to 3 pm. This gives families an opportunity to enjoy and participate together in the unique programming.

Limmud Ottawa is affiliated with Limmud International, and has partnerships with the Max and Tessie Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies at Carleton University, the Vered Jewish Canadian Studies Program at University of Ottawa, and is a beneficiary of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa. Limmud Ottawa also received a grant from the Congregation Beth Shalom Legacy Endowment Fund.

Limmud Ottawa 2020 takes place morning and afternoon on Sunday, March 15, at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre. Adult admission is $36 and includes all sessions and a light kosher lunch. Limmud is aiming for a day of zero waste, and so please bring your own reusable water container.

Register at Registration in advance online is highly recommended as the event sells out. The full list of speakers is available on the website.