Core Values of Limmud
Limmud Sydney operates as part of the Limmud family. Limmud operates in 80+ communities around the world and Limmud Sydney is part of that network, known as Limmud International. Perhaps the best way to describe what Limmud is about is to reference the Limmud Core Values – because they are absolutely central to what we do and stand for:
The Limmud promise is, wherever you find yourself, Limmud will take you one step further on your Jewish journey.
Limmud’s mission is informed by the following values:
- Everyone should be a student and anyone can be a teacher.
- Learning embraces personal development, knowledge and skills.
- Learning changes people, inspires action and opens new worlds.
- We encourage the creation of a learning environment in which people are able to reflect and grow.
- There are many inspirations that can offer opportunities for learning.
Expanding Jewish Horizons
- We strive to create individual, collective and communal experiences, through which we strengthen and develop our Jewish identity.
- We aim to create opportunities for communities and individuals to connect.
- We recognise the strength of providing a space where spiritual, emotional and intellectual connections are made.
- Volunteerism is a key feature of almost everything we do.
- We are all responsible for each other and for the communities we create – everyone has an important contribution to make.
- We encourage participants to take an active part in all we do.
- We inspire people to be ambitious about their contribution.
- We challenge people, and trust them to rise to that challenge.
- We see the potential of individuals and communities, and support their development.
- We empower people to make choices and provide the information they need to inform those choices (including in the biographies which we ask presenters to provide).
- We value the rich diversity among Jews, and so we seek to create cross-communal and intergenerational experiences.
- We value accessibility, and aim to be accessible to all.
- We value choice in form, content and style in our programmes.
- We encourage people not to stereotype others.
Community and Mutual Responsibility
- Limmud is a community of learning.
- We can achieve more together than we can individually.
- We gain from, and should give something back to, the Jewish and wider community.
- No-one is more important than anyone else.
- We expect all participants to be respectful of one another, and to recognise that all volunteers are also participants.
- Personal attacks are not acceptable in any Limmud context, especially within sessions at events.
Arguments for the Sake of Heaven
- We recognise and appreciate that ‘arguments for the sake of heaven’ can make a positive contribution to furthering our education and understanding.
- We do not participate in legitimising or de-legitimising any religious or political position found in the worldwide Jewish community. Anyone coming to Limmud seeking opportunities for this will not find them. We have no part to play in the debates between/across denominations.
- Sessions which encourage vigorous debate are entirely acceptable but we will seek to avoid religious or political conflict. Sessions should be educational, and not polemical.
- We seek to create an inclusive environment for all participants whatever their religious observance practices.
- We believe in the importance of enabling Shabbat and kashrut to be kept in all public areas as far as possible, so that Jews do not have to separate themselves one from another.
- We recognise that in private areas, people will behave as they wish.
- We ask that in matters of Shabbat and kashrut all participants behave in a way which is respectful of the religious observance of others.
About Limmud Sydney
In New South Wales, Limmud-Oz was established by The Shalom Institute in 1999. In 2011, an autonomous Limmud Sydney Board was created, which runs with Shalom’s continued engagement and support.
Limmud Sydney runs three events on a two-year cycle:
- Limmud-Oz is held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June.
- Yom Limmud is held in the alternate years in June.
- Limmud Fest is a residential event held over a Shabbat outside of Sydney in November, in the same year as Yom Limmud.
At each event there is programming for adults as well as children (“Young Limmud”).
Each event offers a choice of programming, e.g. at any one time there might be three or more different sessions, so that people often find there are too many interesting things to choose between. Each session is accompanied by a description of the topic and the presenter(s) so that everyone can make an informed adult choice about whether it is a session they want to attend.
Each Limmud event is run by two volunteer co-chairs and a large group of volunteers who take on the responsibility of organising the event, including marketing, participant care, programming, logistics, catering, Young Limmud, etc. At the event itself, others volunteer their time to help the event run as smoothly as possible e.g. helping at the registration desk, preparing the site, helping presenters. Limmud is truly run for the community and by the community.
Limmud in Sydney is managed overall by a Board, set up a few years ago and tasked with issues that are typically not specific to a particularly Limmud event – planning, policy, budgets, troubleshooting etc. Like the rest of Limmud, the Board is also made up of volunteers passionate about what Limmud offers our community.
Limmud Sydney Presenter Guidelines
We receive a lot of questions that relate one way or another to the core value above, “Arguments for the Sake of Heaven”. We are blessed to live in a community where many of us are not shy about giving feedback…
“Why do you have sessions about X?”
“This session and presenter was insensitive.”
“Why would you have this person at your event?”
“Why didn’t you have this person at your event?”
“This session was unbalanced.”
As a result we have spent a long time thinking through how to handle these issues. One of our challenges has been how to apply the Limmud core values to specific situations. Being a volunteer-based endeavour means we seek to include our volunteers as we grapple with these situations, and this involvement is something about which we are uncompromising. We know what makes sense today may not make sense with different people and different circumstances tomorrow. We commit ourselves to making Limmud a challenging, enlightening and positive place in our community.
We have developed the following information and guidelines to address some of the challenges we have, and continue to deal with.
Limmud is a huge meeting place of the community and we are typically inundated with people wanting to present. However, there is no “right” to present at Limmud. We review all session proposals which are submitted and carefully assess whether any appear to be inconsistent with our core values or might breach our guidelines. We also have practical restrictions in terms of presenter slots, and we seek to put together a balanced and interesting program. For example, if we have too many people wanting to present on broadly the same area then we have to be selective. At other times we have made the judgement call to reject a session on the grounds that the session was likely to be polemical rather than educational. We have even had proposed sessions from what we had reason to believe were representatives of cults! Oftentimes there will be some in our community who don’t like the judgements and decisions made, but we recognise that this comes with the territory and we do make a point of trying to be respectful even when we disagree.
For various reasons, we do not accept all sessions submitted to us for a Limmud event. However, we must make clear the fact that the acceptance of sessions does not mean Limmud-Oz endorses or sympathises with the views expressed by presenters in that session. Limmud events are grassroots and reflective of community issues and interests.
In particular the topic of Israel is one that can be a magnet for passionate opinions and disagreement. We understand that Jews who care about Israel can and will hold different views. We believe it is critical that when people disagree, they engage civilly and assume and respect the good faith of others. In general we seek to maintain high standards of civility in language and behaviour when we discuss all matters within the Jewish community.
Limmud offers a space where adults can make informed decisions about which topics and presenters they want to listen to and engage with. We are an organisation that seeks to encourage healthy, vigorous and broad debate. We will not, however, provide a space for people to present who promote or actively support boycotts and sanctions against the State of Israel.
How do we handle Programming disputes?
Limmud Sydney has crafted a process to manage problems with sessions. First is to ensure that everyone who wants to present agrees to the Limmud core values and our guidelines. Beyond that, sometimes we may need to ask for more information about a proposed session. Sometimes, when appropriate, we might suggest that a session become a panel to broaden the range of likely views. Sometimes we recommend that the session description and bio of the presenters be made clearer to help attendees make informed choices. Sometimes there might be concerns that a session is geared towards promoting a service or product (which we do not allow). Most issues can be resolved amicably through discussion. Occasionally if the issue cannot be easily resolved by the event team, the Limmud Sydney Board gets involved and, together with the event steering committee, works to resolve the issue.
If you have a concern about the programming before, at or after a Limmud Sydney event, the best thing to do is to contact us directly and let us know your concern. We will try and engage with you as best as we can in good faith. Before or after an event, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and phone number. We would also be happy to hear any comments about this page.