It’s pretty extraordinary that in addition to running an amazing Limmud weekend, Brian came home at the end of it and wrote this blog post before the weekend was even over. And in the spirit of volunteerism that runs through Limmud, I hope you’ll be inspired to sign up to blog for a week!
Thank you to Miriam for giving me this wonderful forum to share my Shabbat experiences this past weekend. I was happy to have her and the entire mishpacha (family) “over” for Shabbat.
Over one year of care and preparation resulted in an amazing feat this past week: the fourth annual LimmudPhilly conference. Over 400 people (exact numbers to be tabulated soon – give a guy a break!) gathered together for a weekend weekend of shmoozing, eating, and learning. As co-chair of this volunteer-driven event, I was incredibly pleased with the outcome – especially the Shabbat portion. This was only our second time hosting people for Shabbat services, sit-down meals, and engaging sessions, but it was more successful than ever.
I suppose I should give you some background: LimmudPhilly is a weekend-long conference run entirely by volunteers (including presenters who volunteer their time freely) wherein participants learn, shmooze, and eat in a variety of sessions. From lectures on the prophets to Jewish-themed tap-dancing and a performance by the Maccabeats – we had it all.
My favorite part of the weekend is obviously Shabbat, which is why I asked to write on this blog. Last year we planned for 100 participants and had 150. This year we planned for 150 and registered 175! Apparently, people like the atmosphere; and I am most definitely one of those people.
One of the main differences between Shabbat and the rest of the conference is the fact that meals are sit-down, allowing more of a sense of community to build. Many blessings are conducted communally and effort is placed to encourage sharing: a jigsaw puzzle was spread around the room, requiring the “ingathering of exiled pieces” and trivia questions were placed on tables, just begging to be asked. While I was often working on putting out small metaphorical fires, these meals were often the only times when I could truly relax.
So, in conclusion, I want to encourage everyone who reads this blog to consider taking part in our amazing work over the year. There will be Tastes of LimmudPhilly to come and the next conference is only one year away!
For the recipe this week, I chose to take a more metaphorical route:
INGREDIENTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL SHABBAT MEAL:
• Interested, engaging guests (some of whom you don’t know)
• Plentiful and tasty food (accommodating all food requirements/allergies) – shout out to Cherry Grill!
• Context for conversation (be it a conference or a simply Jewish pop culture trivia sheet)
• Few time constraints (everyone just stays)
• A willingness to think outside the “box”