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The Jewish Report Editorial

The true meaning of community

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What is it that makes us a community? We have so many different strands, political and religious opinions, perspectives and histories. We are a diverse bunch of people who share particular aspects of our identity and belief systems. So much the same and yet so much is different!
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Aug 10, 2017

Last weekend I witnessed us as a true community. I went to my first Limmud weekend and in the space of two and a half days, I saw what was possible for us. I saw the best in us. I saw the potential for our future…

I witnessed Jews from all walks of life, political persuasions, along the irreligious to frum-frum sliding scale, Orthodox, Chabad, Ohr Somayach, Progressive and even those who call themselves Jubus (Jews who are into Buddhism) at Limmud. 

Over 860 people descended on the Indaba Hotel in Fourways over the weekend to learn together.

There we all were ready to be sponges and share our ideas and understanding with others. If anyone ever says it is not possible to get Progressive Jews and frum Orthodox Jews together in a room, they are wrong. At the same time, there were people who call the “disputed” areas in Israel, Judea and Samaria, and believe there is no possible two-state solution, sitting, next to those who call the same area, the “occupied territories” and the “West Bank”.

We all got together, learnt a whole lot, heard inspiring, thought-provoking talks that we discussed and debated.

I saw it with my own eyes. And everyone was respectful, kind and participatory.

I am aware that this was a microcosm of the macrocosm, but there were representatives of every kind of Jew present.

How did this happen?  Would the same people at any other time be judging those around them?

I may be an idealist and believe in the good in everyone, but I don’t believe any of us are that different. I believe that Jewish people across the board want to better themselves and improve on their knowledge. 

Everyone at Limmud was there for personal growth and to be a part of this incredible communal experience.

It didn’t matter what our differences were, because we are all Jewish and, in fact, our differences of opinion added to the debates and discussions after the talks. 

I take my hat off to the organisers because they managed to bring together an incredible array of speakers. Some were imported, but even those local ones were outstanding.

Where else would I get to hear Max Price talking about the decisions he has to make as vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town - from a Jewish perspective? How often do you hear Deputy Israeli Ambassador, Ayellet Black speak about her childhood in Israel?

They even brought the inimitable ANC veteran and former minister Jay Naidoo to speak to us about “spiritual activism”. We don’t often have access to him, especially just before hearing Zohar Raviv, an internationally renowned Jewish educator and then Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, rated one of America’s top 50 rabbis. 

Hearing debates about the Israeli situation from true experts across the political spectrum on one platform, was phenomenal. So too was learning about the national minimum wage debate and the Jewish way of looking at organ donation.

One of my favourite moments was in the Limmud Shark Tank, when business mavens Gil Oved and Gil Sperling promised to hand over a combined R2 million to a young smart and determined start-up quartet after a few minutes.

Sure, they were getting their pound’s worth, but making such snap decisions over so much money, made me decidedly nervous. The session was fascinating and quite nail-biting.

The most frustrating thing about the weekend was being spoilt for choice and not being able to take a break because of severe FOMO (fear of missing out).

I had a familiar sense while being at Limmud of being back at a Jewish youth movement camp, where we all get together to eat, pray, sing, learn and just have fun.

Would that we could always embrace our differences, especially when we are about to lay into another for their opposing opinions or beliefs. 

Okay, I know you may be thinking I am about to burst into singing “Kumbaya” or John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”, but let’s try and work together for the benefit of our community!

See you at the Absa Jewish Achiever Awards on Sunday!

Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

 

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