WHAT IS LIMMUD?
Limmud – the volunteer-driven Jewish learning experience started in Great Britain 30 years ago. Since 1990, Limmud has spread to Jewish communities across the world.
The first Limmud Conference took place in the UK in 1980, awakening inspiration in hundreds of activists who returned home full of enthusiasm. This resulted in the idea of organizing local Limmud events. The Jerusalem Post reported in 2000 that “Every place that has Jews should have its own Limmud.”
Limmud is a dynamic, pluralistic gathering of Jewish learning. For 30 years, Limmud seminars and conferences around the globe, from Canada to Australia, Switzerland and Turkey, as well as Israel, have been attracting Jews of all ages and backgrounds, including those who have studied Jewish topics intensively and others who have very little practical knowledge.
Seminars, lectures, workshops, and discussions focus on an enormous range of topics, from social and political trends within Jewish communities and around the world, to Israeli politics; from Jewish cooking; from traditional texts, Yiddish theater, dance and music.
PRINCIPLES OF LIMMUD
We strive to use Limmud’s core goals to create, enrich and enhance our Jewish life.
Our conference is open to all who want to learn, from all backgrounds, ages, and levels of Jewish observance.
The presenters, lecturers, artists and speakers all give their time as volunteers; none are paid.
Roam as you wish
Wherever you find yourself, Limmud FSU will take you one step further on your Jewish journey. Sessions are not compulsory – attend as many or as few as you like.
Paying your own way
There is a special volunteer discount, but participants pay a conference participation fee.
Organizational Structure & Governance
Limmud FSU (LFSU) began its activities with a Limmud conference in Moscow in 2006. As it was not set up as a formal legal entity, LFSU implemented Limmud programs through its partner organizations – specifically the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) – which provided the legal administrative framework for financial operations. LFSU has maintained relationships with these organizations while developing new operational mechanisms: both independent legal entities and contractual arrangements with other non-profit bodies in different localities.
Current Scale of Operations
At present, LFSU operates Limmud conferences for the Russian speaking Jewish community in the following places:
- Russia: Moscow continuously since 2006, and since 2011 in St. Petersburg – previously also in the Russian Far East – Birodbizhan & Khabarovsk. As of 2015, a conference for the Volga – Urals regions of the Russian Federation took place in Kazan.
- Ukraine: in various locations including Yalta, Truscavets, Odessa, Vinitsa, Uzhgorod and now in Lvov.
- Israel: in Ashkelon, three years in Jerusalem, in Beer Sheva, in Nazrat Elite and for two years on the Kinneret.
- United States: a Limmud FSU conference has been held in the Greater New York area since 2009: for two years in Westhampton Beach NY., and since 2012 in New Jersey – twice in Princeton, and subsequently in Parsipanny. The new West Coast conference took in the Los Angeles area in early 2016, with the next conference planned for the San Francisco – Bay area.
- Belarus: for the first time in Vitebsk in 2013, a second conference in the same location in 2014 and in 2016 in Minsk..
- Moldova: a one-day conference was held in Chisinau in 2012; three-day conferences in 2014 and 2015.
- Canada: a second full three day conference was held near Toronto, with follow-up activities planned for 2016.
- Australia: the first conference took place in 2015 near Melbourne with a follow-on event in Sydney; this year the annual conference is planned for the Sydney area.
- Western Europe: intensive preparations are currently in progress for the first multi-national Limmud FSU conference for west European countries to be held near London in early 2017.
For each of these areas, there is an LFSU project manager – either full time or part time as required. The same Project Manager covers Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. In certain countries LFSU works with a local operating agent, which assists with the financial implementation of the Limmud conference.
LFSU’s program of activities also includes preparatory seminars and workshops for volunteers in advance of the conferences, global leadership conference for volunteers from all the locations in which it is active, follow-up meetings, special projects such as an international website and PR publications, as well as general organizational functions (financial control, accounting, offices, fundraising, global management etc.)
LFSU’s annual budget encompasses all these conferences, projects and activities. Its financial reports integrate all income and expenditure items from the accounts of the several implementing organizations.
LFSU’s global activities are supervised by the following governing bodies:
- International Steering Committee (ISC) chaired by Matthew Bronfman is responsible for authorization of LFSU annual work program and budget. It receives and reviews reports on LFSU conferences and other activities. The ISC is comprised of representatives of supporting organizations, donor foundations and sponsors as well as individuals active in promoting Limmud’s educational and cultural work. The ISC meets once or twice a year.
- Executive Committee comprises the Founding Chair, Chaim Chesler, Co-Founder, Sandra Cahn, the ISC chair, Matthew Bronfman, and Aaron Frenkel LFSU President. It oversees the ongoing management of LFSU activities, approves budgetary adjustments between ISC sessions and gives directives for the preparation of the annual work plan. Conference calls are held as required for consultations together with senior staff, and to make decisions on the above subjects.
Financial Management, Grant Applications, Financial Reports
The overall financial management of LFSU operations, including budgeting, cash flow management, processing income and expenses, monitoring and consolidation of reports, is carried out under the direction of the Executive Committee by a small senior staff team. LFSU’s Executive Director, Roman Kogan, is responsible for the execution of LFSU’s budget and the general coordination of all activities, including their financial aspects. He is assisted in budgeting, cash flow and contracts management by LFSU’s Financial and Management Consultant, Chaim Nagus. Katya Dymshits is responsible for preparation of grant applications and follow-up reports on conferences and other projects and for the general dissemination of information on LFSU activities.
Although each operational body has its own accounting function, this management team also administers two of the independent entities set up by LFSU (see below).
Limmud FSU International Foundation
In January 2008, the Limmud FSU International Foundation (LFSU Foundation or the Foundation) was incorporated in the State of Delaware, and subsequently recognized by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a tax exempt non-profit charitable organization according to section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code. The board of directors consists of nine members, five American directors and four non-American. The Founding Chair of Limmud FSU is Chair of the Board, the Co-Founder is President, and Limmud FSU’s Executive Director is Executive Director of the Foundation.
The LFSU Foundation is the representative legal entity for LFSU in submitting most grant applications, signing agreements for receipt of monies and for other similar transactions. The Foundation signs contracts with, and makes transfers and payments to various organizations, vendors in the New York area and suppliers, such as tour operators, for conference services worldwide.
Since 2014, the LFSU Foundation maintains a full accounting system, with support from professional accountancy firms. It carries out transactions through its own banking facilities, in parallel to the financial operations performed on the Foundation’s behalf by JDC acting as its fiscal sponsor.
Limmud – Russian Speakers, Israel
Limmud – Russian Speakers Israel (LRSI) is a duly constituted Israeli non-profit member organization (Amuta), established in March 2011. There are ten members, all of whom are Israel residents; three serve on the Executive and another two are members of the Audit Committee (as stipulated in Israel law).
LRSI was set up to implement all LFSU programs in Israel and to provide assistance in Israel and abroad to LFSU for the implementation of its other conferences and its general management support functions (especially payment of those expenses incurred in Israel for global operations). There is an Agreement of Cooperation between LRSI and the LFSU Foundation delineating these various activities and the provision of funding to LRSI. However there is no duplication of administrative functions. The required professional accounting services are undertaken by an outside CPA firm, and LFSU’s Executive Director serves as the Executive Director of LRSI.