By Nina Rubin | Limmud Atlanta + Southeast Board Chair

Earlier this year a Jewish organization formerly known as the Jewish Outreach Institute rebranded itself as Big Tent Judaism. Its tagline, “to engage, support and welcome all those who would cast their lot with the Jewish people,” perfectly expresses my Rosh Hashanah hope for 5776.

Nina Rubin

Nina Rubin

Jewish Atlanta, open wide your tent flaps!

For the thousands in our sprawling metro area who feel an affinity, even a love, for Judaism and the particular and occasionally meshuggenah ways of the Jewish people, let me say that Limmud Atlanta + Southeast is a tent with flaps wide open.

Limmud, the Hebrew word for learning, is a challenging name to wrap your tongue around: FYI, it’s pronounced lee-MOOD. Mainly we are proud that our Limmud tent is huge and growing.

Limmud Atlanta is part of the international grassroots Limmud movement that flourishes in more than 81 nations and is not tied to any dogma or denomination.

As you read this, more than 330 Jews of all ages, beliefs, nonbeliefs, affiliations and nonaffiliations will have just spent four days at Limmud Atlanta’s signature Labor Day weekend event, LimmudFest, held annually at Camp Ramah Darom in the North Georgia mountains. Our weekend was planned entirely by volunteers, most under the age of 40.

We who love Limmud call ourselves Limmudniks. We spent sundown on Friday to lunch on Monday opening our tent flaps and our minds to create an intentional community ranging in age from infants and millennials to boomers and ninetysomethings. In addition to metro Atlantans, we welcomed people from Miami, Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Jerusalem.

Many of us are affiliated up the wazoo. Some belong to synagogues, send our kids to Jewish day schools and summer camp, and observe Shabbat in some measure, and many of us keep kosher. Other of us self-describe as cultural Jews; some of us call ourselves agnostics or spiritual or “just Jewish.”

But all of us are united in the belief that we are better learning and living together. Across the weekend we celebrated Shabbat as one community, choosing from a variety of minyans — traditional, egalitarian and renewal. We studied Torah, took hikes, debated respectfully about Israel, schmoozed on Camp Ramah’s wide and wonderful porch, and chose from 95 learning sessions. We also ran a day camp for kids ages 5 to 12 and a Gan for preschoolers.

Opening our tent flaps for 3½ days meant being willing to accept some tensions about belief and observance. Camp Ramah, which has an eruv and provides kashrut supervision, makes it possible for all to share a halachic Shabbat. Unlike a typical synagogue service where everyone sings the same melody, sits, stands and bends at the same time, at Limmud we are NOT always on the same page. We respect differences. We agree to disagree.

There’s room in our tent for all who are tolerant and curious and want to deepen their Judaism. For 5776, take the next step on that journey with Limmud Atlanta + Southeast. We need your time, talent and creativity. Find out more about us at www.limmudse.org.