Recent Press

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Vol. 24 No. 12 WINNIPEG, WEDNESDAY, February 23, 2011 19 Days in Adar 1, 5771

“Limmud” coming to Winnipeg March 12 & 13

A festival like no other, “Limmud – Festival of Jewish Learning”, is coming to town this spring.
Taking place at the Asper JCC on Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13, Limmud will offer an incredible array of options all under one roof – from Krav Maga martial arts to the first Afro-American Jewish Orthodox Hip Hop artist, meditation, Jewish cooking, and an extensive choice of Jewish learning options.
The idea for the festival was born 30 years ago in England, according to Faye Rosenberg-Cohen, Planning Director/GrowWinnipeg Coordinator, Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.
After getting its start in the UK, the Limmud (“learning,” in Hebrew) concept spread to communities worldwide. It is an organization known for creating events with a live- ly approach to Jewish learning for people of all ages, backgrounds, and experience.
“In Winnipeg, we’ve been discussing it since Shaul Wachsstock brought the idea to a planning session and talked with me, Tamar [Barr], and others about seven years ago, recognizing how perfect it would be for our community,” said Rosenberg-Cohen.
“Limmud is a no brainer to anyone who hears about the wonderful- ly diverse learning opportunities. If you’re interested in traditional Jewish learning, or just a Jewish approach to culture, or anything that creates a comfortable Jewish context, Limmud is for you.
“Jewish tradition is all about learning, debating, and discussing how to be better Jews, better as a people, and improving the world in which we live. What’s Talmud if not Jewish debating? Limmud is also about solidifying Jewish identity and community, reinforcing our tra- dition, as well as our diversity and desire to build community for each other.”
Events feature all educational styles including lectures, workshops, text-study sessions, film, meditation, and discussions to ensure there is something for everyone. Children’s programming (for ages three-10) will also be available.
The multi-organizational festival includes a selection of 60 sessions offered by a diverse range of local and international Jewish thinkers, artists, and educators.
“This year will be wonderful, but hopefully only a glimmer of what
it will end up becoming in the future,” said Avi Posen, Jewish Engagement Coordinator, Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.
On Saturday., March 12, registra- tion will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by Havdallah, an hour of sessions, and then food and music on Main St.
On Sunday., March 13, registration and breakfast will start at 8 a.m., fol- lowed by sessions from 9 a.m. until
about 6 p.m. (with lunch and periodic snack breaks through- out).
Lisa Alcalay Klug, one of the event presenters is an award- winning journalist who has published hundreds of articles in publications like The New York Times and Forward. Since the 2008 release of her book, “Cool Jew – The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe,” she has presented at over 100 events in North America and Europe. To get a glimpse of what she will discuss, search “Cool Jew” on, where she reveals that “The King, Elvis, was a yid.”
The festival is open to the public. “We’ve already had a few inquiries from non-Jews as to whether they could register,” said Rosenberg- Cohen. “Limmud is primarily targeted to the Jewish community – as an opportunity for us and our families, some of whom are non-Jews. In fact, there are a couple of sessions that might be of particular inter- est to people who are new to the Jewish community, like the one on Jewish Vocabulary 101.
“We hope we have 500 people or more, because I really don’t want anyone with the slightest interest to miss out and be sorry they weren’t there. I can’t wait to be there to absorb the atmosphere and learn.”
Limmud is presented by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Rady JCC, Chesed Shel Emet, Winnipeg Board of Jewish Education, Congregation Etz Chayim, Congregation Shaarey Zedek, and the local chapter of Canadian Friends of Hebrew University.
For more festival information or to register, visit www.limmudwin- Also on the website is a list of the sessions, and out-of-town and local presenters. The early bird registration fee (including all ses- sions and food) is $54 until March 7 and $65 after that.
AVI POSEN Jewish Engagement
Coordinator, Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.
Photos courtesy of Avi Posen.

Cool Jew ♥ Limmud

Limmud becoming new favored networking tool for Jewish authors, artists, groups

By Sue Fishkoff · January 13, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- Journalist and author Lisa Alcalay Klug flew across the country this month to present at Limmud NY, the annual New York version of the worldwide Jewish learning extravaganza.

The Jan. 14-17 conference in upstate New York will be Klug’s seventh Limmud gathering in 12 months. Like the hundreds of other Limmud presenters whose paths she crosses, she doesn’t get paid for her time.

“I’ve met amazing people, developed new friendships and reinforced past relationships,” said Klug, who splits her time in California, New York and Israel. “My world has grown exponentially because of it.”

Limmud, which started out 30 years ago in Britain as a conference for professional Jewish educators and has burgeoned into the world’s largest network of gatherings promoting informal Jewish education, has become a creative and professional hub for presenters, some of whom have become regulars on the Limmud circuit.

More than 35,000 people took part in one of 55 Limmuds held last year from Siberia to South Africa, according to Limmud. As more branches opened in more countries – there are eight now in the United States alone – it has become a collaborative opportunity for musicians and visual artists, who meet at Limmud and begin working together.

Some performance acts formed for a Limmud event continued afterward, including Los Desterrados, a British band that sings in Ladino, and the klezmer-house dance mash-up project Ghettoplotz. Limmud gives writers an opportunity to promote their books and educators a chance to try out new topics. It also puts Jewish organizations in front of new audiences and potential donors.

Much has been written about Limmud’s impact on those who attend -- the celebratory atmosphere, the array of learning opportunities, the radical egalitarianism of its all-volunteer structure that encourages participants to present and presenters to participate.

That was all intentional from the beginning, says Raymond Simonson, the project’s Britain-based executive director. But what he and other organizers didn’t foresee was how Limmud would become a networking tool for presenters.

Unlike most festivals and conferences, which tend to invite experts, anyone can apply to be a Limmud presenter -- a big draw for inexperienced presenters and established professionals wanting to try out new material.

“We tell them, you don’t get money, but there’s an opportunity for people to have access to your merchandise,” said Karen Radkowsky, founding president of Limmud NY, which in 2005 became the first Limmud in the United States. “It’s an opportunity for them to be exposed to other thoughts and ideas. When they’re not giving their own presentations, they go to others.

“It’s very different from the GA, where you might fly in, speak, and then leave,” she said, referring to the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.

The Limmud structure facilitates this cross-pollination, says Uri Berkowitz, co-chair of Limmud International, which oversees all branches outside the UK. Last month, some 2,500 people went to Coventry, England, for the 30th anniversary Limmud Conference.

“Each Limmud is its own community, with a fresh audience, but they’re still part of the same family,” Berkowitz told JTA. “That’s why presenters can go from one to another. Now that there are enough of them, they’ll often know at least one or two other presenters, and can continue the conversations and collaborations.”

That’s what happened to Klug. In February 2009 she went to Limmud LA on her own dime to talk about her new book, “Cool Jew,” and was spotted by friendly spies from Limmud UK. They invited her to present at Warwick in December 2009, which led to invitations to Limmuds in Atlanta, Berlin, Amsterdam and Budapest. Next month she’ll be back at Limmud LA, then on to Winnipeg in March for that Canadian city’s first Limmud.

Limmud usually covers travel and accommodations for invited presenters but does not pay them for their presentation.

Klug’s experience is not atypical, according to Radkowsky. Core volunteers from the British, New York and Los Angeles Limmuds attend each other’s gatherings to poach presenters.

Arthur Kurzweil, a well-known genealogist, educator, magician and former book publisher, has presented at four Limmuds in New York and is headed to his first Limmud LA next month. Like Klug, he is an invited presenter. An experienced public speaker, Kurzweil gets more invitations than he can accept. Limmud is one to which he says yes.

“These are my people,” Kurzweil said. “It’s what I do. Limmud is one more great opportunity to teach and share my interests.”

Joel Chasnoff, a stand-up comedian and author of “The 188th Crybaby Brigade,” the story of his experience in the Israeli military, has presented four times at Limmud UK. Last year he led Limmud sessions in New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta, and this February he’s headed to Los Angeles.

“The first time I went, I had no idea what it was,” he said. “I love it. It’s like summer camp. In terms of the audience, I find them smart and interested in Jewish thought. They’re in tune with what I talk about.”

A number of Jewish organizations have latched onto Limmud as a way to present their message before a self-selected, motivated Jewish audience.

Marc Rosenberg directs One Aliyah, the singles and young professionals department of Nefesh B’Nefesh, which sponsors North American immigration to Israel. He’s presented at Limmud UK the past three years, and this year will be his second at the New York one.

“Since Limmud draws such a strong crowd from across the Jewish spectrum and Israel is a central topic, it seems a natural fit for our organization,” he told JTA. “By attending Limmud we are able to increase our exposure, tap into trends inside the community and answer anyone’s aliyah questions.

“It’s a great place to meet activists and information-seeking Jews,” agreed Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service, who has presented or sent staffers to New York, Philadelphia, Colorado, Los Angeles and Boston, as well as Turkey and three Limmuds in South Africa.

“You can assume the people who choose your session are really interested in what you have to say. And we get to determine, or at least influence, the structure of the presentation, which is not true of most conferences.”

Best of all, Messinger added, “It’s fun.”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

New Spin on Chanukah

Jewish Woman magazine
Winter issue 2008

A New Spin on Chanukah
By Meredith Jacobs

My parents no longer light the Chanukah menorah. "Why bother?" explained my mother. "You and your sister are no longer home. It’s just me and Daddy. Why should we bother? Chanukah is for kids."

Wow. I thought about that. I don’t think Chanukah is just for kids. I don’t want Chanukah to be just for kids. I want to imagine that one day, when Sofie and Jules are grown and have families of their own, Jonathan and I will still light the candles. (Of course, what I really want is for my future grandchildren to all live close enough to us that we light the candles with them, but that’s not the point.) The point is, what does happen to Chanukah when kids aren’t around? How can I make Chanukah meaningful to me

...As Lisa Alcalay Klug, author of Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe (Andrews McMeel), puts it, "It’s really about being comfortable in your own skin, knowing where you come from and expressing pride in who you are." Klug, like Schwimmer, celebrates Chanukah kitsch in the Heebster-chic style in which many young Jews today own their Jewishness. Kitsch becomes cool and Chanukah hip.


Monday, December 22, 2008

The Clips Keep Coming

We've been getting lots of media coverage...

December 21st

December 19th
The Lori & Julia Show

December 13th
The Los Angeles Times

December 10th
Sam & Suzy in the Morning,

December 9th
The World of TJ McCormack, describes this interview as "all-time great show of T.J.'s." Streaming audio available here.

I've also taped interviews with Jewish Life TV and the Bill Handel that are yet to air.

Cool Jew
will also be part of the media discussion on multiculturalism in America during the presidential inauguration week at Interfaith Voices. Details to follow soon!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Times of London

Jewish cool, Catholic Hip, Islamic Hip-hop

By Libby Purves

October 30, 2008

We are alerted by the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle to this book about how to be a cool Jew (I thought they all were..). “When you’re a Heebster, you don’t have to work hard to be cool, you just have to be proud to be a Jew,” says journalist Lisa Alcalay Klug . The book "can be seen as part of the wave of hipster Judaism that has produced the irreverent Heeb and Guilt and Pleasure magazines, JDub Records and reggae singer Matisyahu, “Challah Back” and “Yenta” T-shirts and HeBrew Beer." As for actual religious belief and feeling, Klug is in favour...

Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles

October 29, 2008

Hey, Hipster Jew—you probably think this book is about you

By Jay Firestone

You're sporting a Batman yarmulke on your head and a cubic-zirconia-studded Star of David pendant around your neck that would put Flavor Flav to shame. A plastic Moses figure stands posed next to your computer, ready for some sea-splitting action.

If you count yourself among the Heebsters and Sheebsters, you're proud to be a Jew and have no reservations when it comes to flaunting your J-bling. If this is all new to you, welcome to the world of hipster Jews.

That's the thinking behind Lisa Alcalay Klug's new book, "Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $12.99), which seeks to catalogue hip Jewish trends, from He'BrewBeer to Heeb magazine, while looking at Judaism and its culture through a post-denominational lens.

Also referred to as "The Heebster Handbook," Klug describes "Cool Jew" as "a field manual for 21st-century Jews." With chapters ranging from "Heebster, Know Thyself" to "Heebster Spoken Here," the book captures the social and cultural zeitgeist that defines modern cool Jews. "Cool Jew" picks up where the do-it-yourself "Jewish Catalog" series left off, aiming its content at the iJew who feels no shame in giving the gift of a virtual matzah ball to a Facebook friend. (more)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

CBC Canadian Broadcasting Centre

Click here for a podcast interview from Q, the CBC Culture, Arts and Entertainment hour with Jian Ghomeshi.