Limmud roundup/postmorte…

As Sashinka noted, she, along with Shamirpower, BZ and myself, were trapped in a snowbound Borschtbelt paradise without inter-net all of Sunday, and of course today was the, ahem, Exodus from Middletown back to wherever you came from (quite possibly the UWS or London).
The conference was (over?)loaded with great courses and activities, so a few brief highlights from the last 48 hours of the conference.
My favorite Sunday session was, without question, Labor of Love: An introspective musical journey through our liturgy with Danny Maseng. Now, still being somewhat new to all this, I cheerfully admit I actually had not heard of Danny before the conference. With a mother who teaches Sunday school to second graders, it’s pretty hard to miss the greatness of Debbie Friedman, but I was told he’s wonderful, don’t worry, Ruby, you’ll love him. Went to Shabbas morning musical services, and not only did he bring wonderful music to the morning, every now and then he’d say something really short and insightful. Wanted to do his Sunday session, but that was before staying up till 3 something jamming with BZ, Avi Fox-Rosen (who also had a cool workshop on singing), Bara Sapir (who sang over the rainbow like she wrote it), and a few of our friends who gave us the gift of Limmud from across the pond. I got up for an am session, and I was tired. I decided I would stop by, and then split a little bit into it, to say hi to Knucklehead or catch a nap. Once he started, I couldn’t leave. He gave us a great look into his inner musical workings, as well as some incredible nuggets of knowledge about Lecha Dodi, the passage between Adonai Elohaychem Emes and Mi Chamocha, and the prayer immediately following the Borechu, noting that the passage from Isaiah it was adapted from called G-d the creator of both Good and Evil, and rhuminated on why the Rabbis wouldn’t want that talked about in the prayer. Really thought provoking stuff. Thanks, Danny.
Also had a great time listening to Basya Schechter as part of the closing program. Homegirl’s got some serious music in her, in case you weren’t sure.
So, Knucklehead and I were up until 4, along with BZ and a few other new friends, jamming the night away. Except we were also leading a Martin Luther King service with NF at 8am. I don’t know how we got up, but we made it and it was a lot of fun. Unfortuntely, the net being down made my drosh a lot shorter, as I wanted to actually quote Dr. King’s statement of “one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws” in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and compare it to Shifra and Puah’s act of civil disobedience. We picked out some great tunes, some of which I think Shamirpower recorded.
All in all, a great time. Props to the staff and board of Limmud NY who made it all happen. One thing Knucklehead pointed out to me, and I can definitely see her point, is that 75 minutes just scratches the surface of these serious topics. Maybe, for next year, there could be a few courses that are multiple days? Also, while I love the Five Boroughs, i was reminded of the line from Rounders, “You know, if we wanted to take each other’s rolls, we could have just stayed home.” How can we spread word to other communities out there to make this even better next year?
Yasher Koach to all who made it happen this weekend. Now, sleeping in a smaller bed, but with heat on in the room.

5 thoughts on “Limmud roundup/postmorte…

  1. I had the pleasure of attending LimmudNY and spending some time with the JewSchool crew (most memorable, a terrific late night jam with BZ and Ruby). The whole thing inspired me to resume my blogging efforts. Check it out.

  2. Just some wrapup thoughts after heavily ingesting the Koolimmudaid from the early part of the weekend. After all, I do reserve the right to think critically.
    Maybe it was just a matter of my particular session selections, but I was not all that impressed with my presenters. “How to be a mensch in an organization” consisted primarily of a roleplay between a roshyeshiva and an Israeli army officer. Little discussion of how to actually and practically be the aforementioned mensch.
    The panel on the so-called student revolution of the 1969 GA was very dissapointing. I guess I should have expected this as it was framed as a reminiscence by some old codgers, but still. The meaningful questions phrased by Ruth Messinger and others as to the real reason that upstart Jewish organizations fail (because they have no real organizational support) were totally ignored.
    Time and again people in my sessions would use Q/A time to expound on their own theories and beliefs, rarely asking actual questions.
    Danny Maseng’s session on the Lecha dodi blew my mind however. I heard this teaching @ BCI a few years back but despite it’s limitations in time, it was beautiful and stirring to hear it again.
    The best parts of the weekend for me were the conversations I sought out with others. Walking and talking with shamirpower, (damn that girl is Jewishly knowledgeable), talking with Nepon about radical Jewish history (yes it exists), and a breakfast talk with Peter Geffen were my highlights. Even at the expense of the formal sessions I tried to fill my time with deep, meaningful conversations.
    Well, that and beer whilst watching the Bears lose, but whatevs…
    Randomly, parts of New Jersey are truly gorgeous…y’all have no idea.

  3. Last Trumpet-
    Glad you’re back in the virtual world. twas cool to jam with you as well.
    I hear ya. And yes, I’m taking some time to review it in my head and come back with additional critiques. I feel like I lucked out with my “careful” selection of courses (flipping a coin or just saying, hmm, what do i feel like today) as I definitely talked to a few people who were frustrated with their sessions, and I certainly had a few that were not what I hoped for. Would have loved to see the creative aspects of the conference staggered a little bit, as the creative sessions all seemed to be at the same time (and the open mic, which I had high hopes for, was right after the concert and up against a one woman show about a stripping rabbi). As for football, it was when I was having lunch in Middletown at 2pm when i found out the Colts got knocked off.

  4. Going into Limmud, I was warned by a colleague that due to the fact that the event was volunteer-run, quality control on the sessions wasn’t ideal. That being said, I chose my sessions in large part based on who was teaching. Being a professional Jew, I was familiar with many of the presenters before the event, and over the course of the weekend, I discovered many teachers over meals. Prior to the event, I spent some time researching presenters – the Limmud site made it pretty easy. I also attended a few sessions without knowing the teacher, and more often than not I was pleasantly surprised. I’m giving a detailed account of my experience on my own blog, and you’re welcome to check it out.

  5. Thanks again to all who organized and participated in the MLK Freedom service on Monday morning. As someone who led a session not 30 minutes after the end of the service, it was a great way to open the day. Thanks again! –JLG

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