Going to Limmud Festival is always a source of wonderment: 2,500 delegates of all ages – from under one year old to over 90 – met at Pendigo Lake in Birmingham for the third year. Hundreds of sessions were given by an international cast of presenters, covering all aspects of Jewishness, from torah texts to issues of being Jewish in the fluid world we now inhabit. There were lots of opportunities to join in, whether in Mizrachi dancing or – new to this year – peopling the everyday story of country folk that is The Archers with Jewish characters. There was a great deal of fun with Eddie Grundy!
Writer/performer Hadar Galron is the inspirational artistic director of the three-day-long International Shalom Festival taking place at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this month. Its mission is to “build cultural bridges and celebrate coexistence and peace” by bringing artists from both the Israeli and Palestinian communities to share a dialogue with visitors to the festival. Here she tells Judi Herman more about the packed three days of the Festival – and how she plans to combat anti-Israel protesters like BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) by shedding some real light in Edinburgh.
The International Shalom Festival runs Tuesday 8 – Thursday 10 August. Times vary. Donations on the door. Venue 340, Drummond Community High School, Edinburgh, EH7 4BS. www.shalomfestival.org
Hundreds thronged to Manchester’s Jewish Museum on Sunday 2 July for the first Jewish Arts Festival For All (JAFFA). Jews of all ages were joined by those of other faiths for a fun-filled day of food, music, art and entertainment.
The Lord Mayor of Manchester – who spent almost two hours at the festival with his wife – chose as his theme for a year that has seen the city’s emergence from the horrendous terrorist attack, “to promote community cohesion and mutual respect amongst and between the city’s diverse communities and individuals” and t was certainly in evidence on Sunday.
Limmud never ceases to amaze and hearten. In spite of being transposed this year to a Birmingham Hilton, the spirit remains, as do the hierarchy-breaking conventions, eg all name badges equal, no Lord, Rabbi or other title allowed. People of all ages at erudite lectures as well as comedy and contemporary music shows – and happy to tell you about their experiences at dinner. Again the huge task of looking after 2,500 delegates was undertaken by a fresh team of volunteers (those working on the shuk where our stand was located were particularly delightful). Why was it in Britain that this incredible, now world-wide, phenomenon was founded, I wondered. Perhaps renowned British ‘amateurism’ gave more faith that teams of volunteers could be trusted to get things right. Anyway, it is certainly something British Jewry has to be proud of – and we were proud that one subscriber there described JR as “Limmud on paper”.
We were happy to meet many of you at Conference. Our badge worked well in bringing people to our stand. We had a record day in terms of new subscriptions. So thank you to the 50 who wore one and if you can keep it and wear it at other relevant occasions (Jewish Book Week, Limmud Days, synagogue functions, etc) it would help us enormously. There are still a lot of people who don’t know we exist.
On 15 October the Institute of Public Affairs at the London School of Economics (in partnership with the Pears Foundation and the Woolf Institute, Cambridge) hosted an interfaith discussion on the theme The Book And The Believer: Are Catholics, Jews And Muslims Still Outsiders In British Society. The evening was part of a series of events to mark the 175th anniversary of the publication of Tablet Magazine.
I was one of three panellists. The others were Sughra Ahmed, from the Woolf Institute in the Centre for Policy and Public Education, and Frank Cottrell-Boyce, screenwriter and novelist who, alongside his many creative achievements, was the writer for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony and for sequels to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
A packed crowd of around 60 people attended the second JR salon event this week at Lauderdale House in Highgate. They were there to hear the virtuoso talents of violinist Irmina Trynkos, as well as the sparkling sounds of pianist Marco Fatichenti. And they weren’t disappointed.
This coming Tuesday 24 February Jewish Renaissance‘s editor Rebecca Taylor will be hosting a special event as part of Jewish Book Week. Taking place at London Jewish Museum, the afternoon will centre around the South African anti-apartheid campaigner Helen Suzman (pictured above visiting Meadowlands high school, Soweto in 1977).
We enjoyed our first Jewish Renaissance salon on Sunday 18 January as much as we hope all of you did. This exclusive event for our subscribers was held at Lord and Lady Lipworth’s house in St John’s Wood and featured Howard Jacobson in conversation with Janet Suzman (pictured above), with a performance by virtuoso violinist Irmina Trynkos.
It was as an amazing experience as ever. I have been going to Limmud for 13 years and can never get over how a team of young volunteers, changing yearly, can put on such a huge event with its problems of feeding and housing 2,500, let alone running hundreds of stimulating sessions each day. It is a heartening wonder of the modern world. And this year even the food was great (congratulations Manchester-based Celia Clyne Banqueting).
There were of course many JR readers there and I asked a few about their best Limmud experience.