The beauty of Jewish education

January 27, 2016 by Craig Shulman
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Limmud, the internationally acclaimed Jewish cultural and education festival, is coming back to Sydney this July. This is a program and initiative of great merit, and this is reflected by the program’s success and spread across the globe.

A Limmud volunteer

A Limmud volunteer

The key strength of Limmud taps into one of the fundamental cultural tenets of what it means to be Jewish – a strong focus and engagement with critical thought.

The reason I say critical thought over education as a whole, is that in today’s world across many societies, we see the importance of education being promoted. By all means, this should be the case. However, there still appears to be a struggle with many societies to gain comfort with the notion of challenging ideas in a sophisticated manner.

Jews, on the other hand, tend to embrace the idea of critical thought. On a historical basis, one of the primary sources of Jewish thought and law, the Talmud, is composed almost entirely of argument. At the seder table, the most well-known stages of the night are the 4 questions, challenging the festival pre-emptively; and the four sons, reflecting on the levels of questions that one may ask. More recently, we see this Talmudic style need to question the specifics of ideas and norms through the popular sitcoms Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Yiddish term ‘chutzpah’, which is very heavily associated with Jewish culture, reflects the audacity to question.

It is this strength and underpinning that I look forward to chairing Sydney’s Limmud program on July 3 this year. I strongly believe that through its ability to encourage critical thought, and the product of critical thought – innovation, from the Jewish community, this program is always able to offer something new.

This year’s program will be no different in that respect. What will be new are the ideas themselves. I know that myself and those who are already involved have plenty of great ideas. However, new ideas are much more likely to come from more people. The flexibility of this program means that there are endless possibilities to innovate how the Sydney community engages with their Jewish identity, and we want to hear what your thoughts and ideas are! If you feel that you have any ideas or thoughts on what you want our Limmud program this year to be, please join us at our Team Launch on February 4, 2016.

Sydney’s Limmud Team Launch will be on Thursday February 4 at Bondi Harvest, 6:30pm to 8:30pm. To RSVP or if you have any questions, contact sharon@shalom.edu.au

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