Thursday, 21 July 2016

A jam packed day of engaging ideas at Yom Limmud Sydney

by Sharon Berger

Months of preparation by the volunteer led team, supported by Shalom Institute staff, came to fruition at Yom Limmud Sydney.

A full session at Yom Limmud Sydney
Photo: Shirli Kirschner
Over 330 participants enjoyed the opportunity to attend 18 different sessions with 11 international and a dozen local presenters at the University of New South Wales.

People were fascinated with Swedish activist Annika Hernroth Rothstein talk on Jews and the Immigration Crisis in Europe. Others enjoyed the humour of comedian Benji Lovitt and the Times of Israel’s senior analyst Haviv Rettig Gur spoke to a capacity audience about the peace process.

Annika Hernroth Rothstein
Photo: David Sokol

“The variety and quality of speakers engaged everyone and provided an opportunity for people to hear a range of opinions on topical issues including the US elections, gender inequality, Israeli politics and Sydney’s Jewish future, to name a few,” said Yom Limmud Sydney chair Craig Shulman.

Benji Lovitt
Photo: David Sokol
Shulman added that feedback from the day has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants particularly enjoyed the extra touches planned by the participant experience team including free mini massages and free organic, fair trade kosher chocolate from Absolute Organics.

The Young Limmud program for primary age kids was also a hit. Stand out sessions included The Human Sound Project which created a unique song with the kids about Shabbat. 

Fun at Young Limmud
Photo: Shirli Kirschner
Other activities included Krav Maga, drama, a session by American presenter Joel Hoffman about where our food comes from, arts & craft and more. Parents were thrilled that their kids had such a good time while they were able to enjoy a day of intellectual stimulation.

Stay tuned to the Limmud-Oz Sydney Facebook page for upcoming Limmud events in the Sydney area, including Limmud Fest in November, 2016 and Limmud-Oz Sydney 2017!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Yom Limmud Sydney for all the senses

When you say the word Limmud, most people will think about the intellectual stimulation.  Learning new things, challenging existing beliefs and studying all things Jewish.

However, a Limmud experience is a lot more than just exercising the cerebral cortex. 

For starters, there’s the buzz of seeing a cross section of the Jewish community in the one place.  There’s the opportunity to catch up with old friends or meet new ones.    There’s the free tantalising meal and snacks included in the ticket.

Our participant experience volunteer team has been working hard to create some wonderful out of session experiences. 

Here are some other reasons Yom Limmud Sydney will make sure your senses are catered for:

- Physiotherapists from Upright Care in Bondi Junction will be giving participants an opportunity to have a 5 minute massage as well as a free consultation should you have any issues.

- Arbonne International will be offering free samples of make up, facials and health supplements.

- A Yom Limmud Sydney 2016 inspiration board will let participants write their thoughts about the different sessions and see what other people thought various presenters and ideas.

- Want to express your creative side?  Take a break and get involved in the latest fashion – colouring-in for grown ups.  Doodle and colour away on a Yom Limmud Sydney artwork designed by Golda Brenner.  You will also have the opportunity to purchase her own Kabbalistic colouring-in book.

-   All this thinking making you tired?  Go relax on the bean bags upstairs and chill out.  

What do you like to get out of your Limmud experience?


Yom Limmud Sydney - Experience New Jewish Ideas

Book Now: 3 July 2016 

For more news and updates Like our Facebook page and Follow-us on Twitter - #YomLimmud

Limmud is a not-for-profit, volunteer based event supported by the Shalom Institute.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Limmud goes to Canberra

 By Caelan Macbeth, Program Manager at The Shalom Institute

On the weekend of Shavuot I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at Limmud in Canberra, hosted there, for the second year now, by the ACT Jewish Community. The three day experience was jam-packed with sessions and panels addressing key areas of religious, cultural, social and political topics our communities are engaging with all around the world.

It was awe-inspiring to see 200 attendees from across Australia congregate in the country's capital to join in a festival of learning - so appropriate for the Chag! Furthermore, it served as an opportunity to visit and see our country’s capital, with the programme offering Shabbat and Chag friendly walking tours of the National Gallery and Parliament Building.

A topic that consistently arose and was discussed was how the religious Jewish community may best include and welcome Jews from the LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer) community. This was made all the more vital a discussion following the events following Shavuot in Orlando, and I'd like to dedicate this learning to the memories of those fallen.

Rabbi Meltzer deserves significant credit in bringing about so much learning to one of our smaller communities. His constant effort in the months preceding the event was noteworthy, as is the transformation and revitalisation his recruitment in Canberra has brought Jewish life there - Kol HaKavod (well done)! 

The experience was exhausting and I enjoyed every minute of it.

My experience in Canberra has truly left me, and I'm sure many other participants, all the more excited for Yom Limmud Sydney!"


Yom Limmud Sydney - Experience New Jewish Ideas

Book Now: 3 July 2016 

For more news and updates Like our Facebook page and Follow-us on Twitter - #YomLimmud

Limmud is a not-for-profit, volunteer based event supported by the Shalom Institute.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

What Do Grass And Shavuot Have In Common?

"Pave over a field and an amazing thing happens each spring: grass grows through the blacktop. Somehow, even the industrial strength of the pavement, powerful enough to support the tonnage of trucks, can’t stop a single, fragile, nascent blade of grass yearning for light.

At this time of year, we are like the grass. We are all like the grass that breaks through the blacktop. The grass is searching for the sun. We are searching for our light, the light that is Torah. And our job during the Omer is to find it. Like for the grass, sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles block our path. Instead of blacktop, we have to overcome petty rivalry, jealousy, hatred, and ego, just to name a few. These are often harder than pavement."

These are words from Joel Hoffman’s blog, one of Yom Limmud Sydney’s fascinating presenters. Joel’s speciality is bringing the Bible to life with fresh insights and interpretations about religious life in the 21st century. Joel is a chief translator for the popular 10-volume series, My People's Prayer Book (winner of the National Jewish Book Award). He holds a Ph.D. in linguistics and has served on the faculties of Brandeis University and Hebrew Union College. You can view his impressive CV here.

Shavuot is upon us this Sunday and Monday, the day that commemorates when we stood at Mt. Sinai and received the Torah. We have counted and waited 49 days from the second day of Pesach for this festival. It’s a time of spiritual limbo. We have our freedom, but we don’t yet have guidance from Torah. So we can do what we want, but we don’t know what we should do. The Omer is our yearly moral navigation check-up, a time to ask: "Am I going in the right direction?" We emerge yearning for light, just like grass.

Grass apparently contains chemicals called auxins that pool in the lower parts of the grass shoot and which give the grass no choice but to grow upward. We in contrast have free choice, so we should ask ourselves at this time of year: are we growing in the right direction, are we becoming better people, are we proud of where we're going and what we're working to do, are we growing consistent with our values and traditions? 

"We have one final thing in common with the grass. We can’t see the light until we overcome the obstacles blocking our path. The Omer can be dark and frustrating, but if we spend our time wisely, it will be worth it."

Come and hear Joel in person at Yom Limmud Sydney. What better opportunity than to learn and grow in the wake of Shavuot than to register for Yom Limmud here in Sydney on 3 July. Joel will speak at 9:30am about "The Bible Doesn’t Say That" He will peel back 2,000 years of revisionism and take a look at the Bible as it originally was.


Yom Limmud Sydney - Experience New Jewish Ideas

Book Now: 3 July 2016 

For more news and updates Like our Facebook page and Follow-us on Twitter - #YomLimmud

Limmud is a not-for-profit, volunteer based event supported by the Shalom Institute

Thursday, 2 June 2016

How to enterntain your kids on July 3rd

July 3 2016.  You could take your kids to the park and push them on the swing again and again and again.  You could be super organized and shepherd them to the zoo for a day outing and exhaust yourself with the hassles of traffic, parking, packing food and keeping up with the kids.  Or you could take them to Yom Limmud Sydney.

Good news parents! Not only do you get to enjoy an enriching day full of stimulating ideas and social contact at Yom Limmud Sydney, but your kids get to experience a wonderful day too meeting kids from across the community and trying a range of new activities.

Introducing Young Limmud – a special jam packed programme dedicated to stimulating the kiddies for the day. The programme is for kids from Year K – 6 and is run by dedicated volunteers and presenters. It is streamed into two age groups, K-2 and 3-6.

Young Limmud has been part of Limmud Sydney events for many years, recognising the desire for parents to be able to attend a Limmud event and have peace of mind that their kids are not only being cared for, but educated and stimulated as well. The kids programme takes place at a venue next to the main event. 

The programme will include activities ranging from arts and crafts, drama, music, games, and kosher food (of course, it’s a Jewish event!). The older kids will be lucky enough to have a couple of the international presenters run informative fun sessions about where our food comes from and how to repair the world.

PJ Library will be entertaining the younger kids with programmes and books on Jewish themes. The kids will enjoy expending their energy through a krav maga session run by experts from KMDI.
Simon Jankelson of The Human Sound Project will be doing vocal and body percussion games with the kids.  His mission is partially about creating an alternative way of learning and educating though music, and empowering people to come together.

Registration is now open, so hop online and book so you and the kids don't miss out. Tickets for the little ones are $25 each (or $20 if it's their first time!).  Or for the nuclear family, you may want to buy a family pass of $205 which is heavily discounted. Pre-registration is required for Young Limmud so we can ensure adequate staffing and food. 

There is a Jewish saying 'No master is jealous of his pupil' (Psikta Zotarti), but I can't help be a little jealous of the kids this Yom Limmud Sydney! 


Yom Limmud Sydney - Experience New Jewish Ideas

Book Now: 3 July 2016 

For more news and updates Like our Facebook page and Follow-us on Twitter - #YomLimmud

Limmud is a not-for-profit, volunteer based event supported by the Shalom Institute

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Let's Celebrate our Wonderful Volunteers

Yom Limmud Sydney volunteer Shayna SlotarVolunteers are the lifeblood of Limmud.  Without them, there is no Limmud.  Volunteers come in all different shapes, sizes and from different backgrounds.  Some volunteers participate on the day, while others help run the show at Yom Limmud Sydney.  They commit a lot of time and energy for months leading up to the event by setting the program, working out logistics, marketing, designing a kids program, and of course, ensuring participants have a great experience.

National Volunteer week, so we thought we would celebrate by letting you meet a couple of our volunteers.

Shayna Slotar is not new to volunteering, or event managing as is her profession, but she is rather new to Sydney.  Shayna moved to Sydney from Perth last year and dived straight into the Sydney Jewish community by volunteering at Limmud-Oz last year.  She had such a blast, that she has come back for more this year.

Shayna has had plenty of experience volunteering with AUJS, UIA and Maccabi to name a few.  She loves the feeling of giving back to her community and Yom Limmud Sydney is a lucky recipient of her experience, knowledge and time.

Shayna is Yom Limmud Sydney’s participant experience chair, which means she is responsible that you feel welcome to Yom Limmud Sydney and leave with a warm  and fuzzy feeling!  Good luck with that Shayna!

Yang Weinberger hadn’t heard about Limmud-Oz before this year but was approached by Shalom staff to join.  Given that Yang is a ‘Yes’ person and has had extensive volunteer history at school and her shule, it wasn’t very hard to convince her to co-chair the volunteering committee.  She has taken up the position with relish and enjoying the challenge, opportunity and the yummy food at team meetings!

Jonathan David was also roped into this ‘Jewish event’ by Yang, but doesn’t hold any grudges!  When he learnt about what Yom Limmud Sydney was and what it stood for, he was happy to get involved.   He is also no stranger to volunteering and regularly commits to helping the elderly with Meals on Wheels.  He co-chairs the volunteer committee with Yang and has found the organising and decision making process rewarding.

So if you dear readers want to enrich your Yom Limmud Sydney experience, sign up and volunteer for July 3rd 2016.  For starters you will be in the capable hands of Yang and Jonathan and you will receive a 25% discount on the day.  Oh, and you will be part of a bigger force that is Yom Limmud Sydney and help contribute to a thriving event.


Yom Limmud Sydney- Experience New Jewish Ideas

Save the date: 3 July 2016 

For more news and updates Like our Facebook page and Follow-us on Twitter - #YomLimmud

Limmud is a not-for-profit, volunteer based event supported by the Shalom Institute

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Meet Craig - chair of Yom Limmud Sydney

My name’s Craig Shulman, and I am honoured to say that this year I am chairing Yom Limmud Sydney. In terms of an overall background, I have a career as an analyst who provides strategy research and advice for any type of organisation that needs my services – big or small, private or otherwise. I am currently working at Transport NSW’s signature rail project Sydney Metro.

In my free time I enjoy music a lot – I attend hip-hop dance classes and am constantly searching for new music to listen to. Karaoke is definitely a fun time when I’m around too.

I have also been heavily involved in the Jewish community since the end of high school. I have been involved with AUJS, Masada College, CSG, and Beit Midrash Minyan. And now, of course, Yom Limmud Sydney.

This is my first time volunteering for Yom Limmud Sydney, and I certainly have no regrets. I have always believed heavily in the merit and ethos of the program, and hope to bring it the attention it deserves.

The key strength of Limmud taps into one of the fundamental cultural tenets of what it means to be Jewish - a strong focus and engagement with critical thought. The reason I say critical thought over education as a whole, is that in today’s world across many societies, we see the importance of education being promoted, and by all means this should be the  case. However, there still appears to be a struggle with many societies to gain comfort with the notion of challenging ideas in a sophisticated manner.

Jews, on the other hand, tend to embrace the idea of critical thought. On a historical basis, one of the primary sources of Jewish thought and law, the Talmud, is composed almost entirely of argument. At the seder table, the most well known stages of the night are the 4 questions, challenging the festival pre-emptively; and the four sons, reflecting on the levels of questions that one may ask. More recently, we see this Talmudic style need to question the specifics of ideas and norms through the popular sitcoms Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The yiddish term ‘chutzpah’, which is very heavily associated with Jewish culture, reflects the audacity to question.

It is this strength and underpinning that I look forward to chairing Sydney’s Limmud program this year. I strongly believe that through its ability to encourage critical thought, and the product of critical thought - innovation, from the Jewish community, this program is always able to offer something new.

This year’s program will be no different in that respect. What will be new are the ideas themselves. I know that myself and those who are already involved have plenty of great ideas. However, new ideas are much more likely to come from more people. The flexibility of Limmud means that there are endless possibilities to innovate how the Sydney community engages with their Jewish identity, and we want to hear what your thoughts and ideas are! If you feel that you have any ideas or thoughts on what you want our Limmud program this year to be, please contact me at


Yom Limmud Sydney- Experience New Jewish Ideas

Book Now: 3 July 2016 

For more news and updates Like our Facebook page and Follow-us on Twitter - #YomLimmud

Limmud is a not-for-profit, volunteer based event supported by the Shalom Institute