YU and the 2015 Limmud Conference
Yeshiva University students have once again participated in the Limmud Conference, an international Jewish initiative meant to get Jews of all denominations to come together for a four-day learning event. The Limmud Conference started in England 30 years ago and averages about three thousand people annually. With that many attendees, it has impacted the lives of countless people across the UK. Building upon that success, Limmud expanded their operations internationally, and about 10 years ago, started in New York where they now get around 750 people every year.
At the Limmud Conference, Jews of all ages, “from infants to grandparents, of all denominations – Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox, secular, post-denominational – and all political affiliations gather to celebrate the richness of Jewish life for an extended retreat filled with sessions, performances, meals, late night jam sessions and endless opportunities to learn about themselves and each other.” This is what makes it so attractive to Yeshiva University. In an interview with The Commentator, Rabbi Brander, the Vice President for University and Community Life explained that the people who support the service learning programs of the CJF are people who believe that there should be “experiential opportunities to the students’ Torah and academic experience.” What better way to experience Torah than getting together and learning with all different types of Jews from all walks of life.
This year, significant changes were made as to how YU would participate in the Limmud Conference. In previous years,about seven or eight students would attend the conference. As with all student programs and initiatives run by the CJF, a private donor covered a big chunk of the cost for the students to participate. This includes half the cost of attending the conference and the transportation. Additionally, the donor sponsors an advisor. Last year, that advisor was Dr. Aaron Koller, Associate Dean of Yeshiva College. He told The Commentator that he functioned as a liaison of sorts and would meet with YU students and discuss the different things they would do to help out with the conference. Furthermore, he helped arrange special sessions from different speakers who he thought were most beneficial to YU students. This year, however, the donor decided to switch things around and instead chose to subsidize three students from RIETS as well as students from other Rabbinical schools. Rabbi Brander explained that the donor believed it would be beneficial to give future Rabbis of Yeshiva University the pluralistic experience, instead of just displaying Yeshiva University through the undergraduate oriented lens. Still, several undergraduate students attended this year’s conference and Dr. Koller was there on Sunday to assist them in what turned out to be an extraordinarily successful event.