Limmud, Hebrew for "learning”, is a Festival of Jewish learning and culture, and one of the fastest growing phenomena in the Jewish world, transforming how Jewish communities learn by expanding horizons and creating experiences which strengthen Jewish identity. It is in 53 communities across the globe, After three successful one day festivals since 2004, Limmud Toronto wishes to upgrade to an annual event, initially as a two day program, then as a three day residential festival, hire a full time coordinator, train volunteers ,bring in quality presenters from other Limmud cities and subsidize participants, allowing greater accessibility and affordability for everyone.
Limmud’s target population are Jews from all walks of life, backgrounds, lifestyles and ages, united by a quest for knowledge. The schedule of workshops, discussions, performances, film and text-study sessions are all planned by volunteers, the largest group in their 20s and 30s, making it unique in the Jewish world where leadership and power are rarely invested in this age-group. Limmud worldwide attracts over 35,000 people annually and continues to see unprecedented growth, even while more traditional community institutions suffer from decreasing numbers. Ideally, we aspire to see a Limmud in every Canadian city with a sizable Jewish population. Limmud stretches the mind, and excites the senses. Our potential impact is summarized in our mission statement: "Wherever you find yourself, Limmud will take you one step further on your Jewish journey."
After three successful one day Limmuds, our next goal is to run a two day event in November 2012 with 750 people, another in 2013 for 2 1/2 days with 800 plus people, with the aspiration to hold a residential Limmud in 2014. Success for us has been measured, not just in numbers with over 400 attending each of our three one-day festivals, but by participants’ diversity i.e. Russians, Israelis etc and the number of volunteers who contributed. We will run regular Tastes of Limmud in between festivals to bring in new participants and volunteers and ,as well ,use technology to connect to our data base throughout the year. Our young core volunteers become the leaders in the community..
Our future leadership requires support, creative input and guidance from the Six Points Fund members in the following areas: building a working board, training future core volunteers, rejuvenating the organization, fundraising, enhancing website and technology, social media expertise, graphic design, PR and media, strategic planning and project management.
Our next projected festival is in 2012, and annually thereafter. Our goal is to hold a residential Limmud in 2014, possibly on a university campus. This requires further funding and expertise to cover programming for Friday night, Shabbat, and Sunday, as well as a Young Limmud program for ages 5 to 17 years. Along with our intention to hire a full time coordinator, we will find other financial sponsors to enable us a feasible exit strategy from the Six Points JVPF.
Limmud Canada is the incorporated company, registered as a charitable organization with Revenue Canada. It gives advice to other Limmud start ups within Canada, including, as of 2011, Limmud Toronto, Limmud Montreal and Limmud Winnipeg. Limmud Toronto has no staff and is a totally volunteer-run grassroots organization. However, Limmud Winnipeg and Limmud Montreal received financial and staffing support through UJA sources in 2011.
The company has a Board of Directors - a lawyer as secretary, a CA as treasurer and a CA as president. It is currently a legalistic, rather than a working board, overseeing fundraising, preparing financial statements and filing with Revenue Canada on an annual basis, The Festival, run by a steering committee, consists of a Festival Chair or two Co-Chairs, and chairs/co-chairs of various committees e.g. Venue, Programming, Program Book, Logistics, IT, Marketing, Publicity etc. Under each chair or set of co-chairs are committee members reporting to them.
Our aim is to fill those positions with people with the skills in those areas but with a particular emphasis on a young demographic. We intend to create a volunteer development team to assist in training these volunteers. We also wish to take a core group of our volunteers to Limmud UK and Atlanta each year where there are an official training programs: "Taking Limmud Back Home."
In 2011, inspired by Toronto’s success, Limmud was replicated for the first time in Winnipeg and Montreal. In future years, we hope other Canadian Jewish communities will embrace the Limmud ideals. Founded 30 years ago in the UK, it has been replicated in 53 Jewish communities across the world, and blossomed into an international network of activity on five continents.. It appears to have hit on a unique Jewish innovative, educational formula that, somehow, just seems to work.
Limmud Toronto will remain sustainable through securing the financial support of other sponsors and a growing database of participants, supporters and volunteers. Our objective is to initially increase the length of the Festival to two days and then ,annually, hold a residential event ,for a minimum of three days, like many Limmuds around the world. (www.limmudinternational.org).