Little ideas adapted from bigger ideas elsewhere often take on a life of their own. Sometimes they even become big ideas of their own.
Limmud began over 35 years ago in the United Kingdom. Those who imagined Limmud in its earliest days believed that providing a place for Jews throughout the country to learn and celebrate their Judaism during the last week in December opened many new channels for engagement.
Over the years, Limmud in the United Kingdom grew to the point that more than 2,500 people gather for its major program, Conference, and over 500 for its new summer gathering, Limmud in the Woods.
This little idea from England spawned numerous similar events, touching the lives of thousands of like-minded Jews across the globe, from Israel to South Africa to Australia and all across the Americas.
The Atlanta Jewish community was an early adopter of the Limmud structure and its ideals. In winter 2007 a small group gathered to create a special Southeast Limmud experience. Our dreams were to create a small event for a few hundred people. Were we ever surprised a year later when over 600 people from Atlanta and throughout the Southeast gathered on the campus of Oglethorpe University for the inaugural event.
With scholars and teachers from the greater Atlanta community and throughout the country, Limmud quickly became the place to be. Limmud Atlanta + Southeast, our local organization, has also become a leader/trendsetter among Limmud communities throughout North America.
The little idea has taken on a life of its own. It is no longer just an event that brings people together over Labor Day weekend. Limmud has become a major gateway for young adults to discover their own Jewish life and to begin making their own personal contributions, not only to Limmud, but also as innovators and entrepreneurs in the Atlanta Jewish community and nationally.
Following in the footsteps of young adults across our great country, the volunteer leaders who step forward each year to create Limmud are recognized as both professionals and volunteers by the larger Jewish world. This contribution to our future leadership makes the Limmud experience valuable to all who participate as learners and teachers.
On behalf of those who have stepped forward to create the Limmud experience, we take this opportunity as a collaborative to wish all a shana tova u’metuka.
Paul A. Flexner is the president of Limmud Atlanta + Southeast (www.limmudse.org).