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Limmud Europe: first steps towards success

In Britain many things happen in their own unique way. For instance, cars are driven on the left and the driver sits on the right side of the car. It naturally follows that Limmud FSU Europe in England is progressing in its own very unique and special way.

If usually in the beginning people attend Limmud as participants, later becoming volunteers and only then joining the ranks of the organizing committees, here it happened the other way around. The majority of our organizing committee not only have no prior experience organizing a Limmud conference but have never even attended one. That obviously presents certain challenges during the process. To overcome these organizational obstacles a seminar was arranged on 28 February.

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The organizing committee of Limmud FSU Europe has the highest membership of all the Limmud FSU committees worldwide. Our group consists of more than 50 people. Most of us reside in London, yet, some do live in Leeds, Cambridge, Nottingham, and other cities in the UK, not to mention our ambassadors who reside all over the EU. Thus, for us, the need for everyone to get together is especially important, since neither Skype nor WhatsApp can really replace the experience of the human interaction. Also, the members of our group are very busy people: high-level managers at large companies or business owners, while many are also proud parents of a one, two, three, or in some cases even four children. So, for everyone to gather and spend the entire Sunday together is a real luxury which we can only rarely afford ourselves. This time it was particularly special because we got to see our ambassadors who flew in from Switzerland, France and Sweden.

The seminar had a number of goals. First, to help the group get into the spirit of Limmud, understand its values and to become a part of its history. This point was discussed at length, thanks to Roman Kogan, Yan Birbraer and Tatiana Pashaeva who flew in from Israel to be with us. Another important point was to transform the group into a true team, to learn how to work shoulder-to-shoulder and cultivate a collective responsibility. Igor Selivanov, a member of the Program committee, at the conclusion of the seminar provided the following feedback on our Facebook page. “What I like most about Limmud is a sense of focused effort to make the world a little bit better. Having a purpose is what distinguishes a team from a crowd. During the Sunday meeting, I felt myself being part of a team, part of something greater than myself”. Exhilarating!

As a result of the seminar, the organizing committee’s workflow became more structured and coordinated. Furthermore, a new committee was created called Participants Care. During the breakout session the committees came up with actionable plans on how to progress further with goals, objectives and deadlines for implementation.

The venue was also of a vital importance. Jewish cultural center JW3 is the pride and joy of the British Jewish community, and an epicenter of cultural and communal activities. It is significant that this is the community that 35 years ago started and embodied the idea of Limmud.

After the seminar, tired but satisfied, the members of our organizing committee didn’t rush back home to their families. On the contrary, their spouses and children joined in for a family style dinner. We felt the need to spend the evening together with our families, all together around the table one more time to experience Limmud. That evening we were also joined by the Deputy Ambassador of Israel to the United Kingdom Eitan Na’eh, a well-known restaurateur Mikhail Zelman, businessman Leo Gluzman, new Limmud International Executive Director Eli Ovits, Chief representatives from Jewish Agency for Israel as well as World Land Trust in the UK. To say that the evening was spent in a warm and friendly atmosphere would be an understatement. We just didn’t want to leave. But we can’t relax now, organizing the first Limmud is not for the faint of heart. Retreating is not an option – Limmud is ahead!

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