FestivaLimmud 2015

Third annual day of open-minded learning in Karmiel showed how things could be

We are proud to continue to present FestivaLimmud, now in its third year, a collaborative effort between local educators and non-profits.   Taking the format of the Limmud movement now so prevalent around the world, this annual one-day marathon session of informal learning open to the public achieves the same goals as the work we carry out throughout the year through our various programs, namely demonstrating the rewards and benefits of coming together to share, collaborate and talk with people from every background and holding every type of opinion.   This year's festival took place last Friday, 5th June, and once again showed in miniature how a society like Israel’s – a collage of people and communities from so many different backgrounds – can be so much more than the sum of its parts.

Not just on the day, but even during the months of intense planning, this goal is achieved.   In fact the process is a goal in itself, bringing different streams, ideas and opinions to the table in a rare and unique opportunity for dialogue between people.   And why do they do it?   Because they share our vision for shared society in Israel.

We must especially mention local educator and secular humanist rabbi, Dubi Avigur, who first approached us in 2012 with the wonderful idea which became FestivaLimmud.   Dubi is the spirit and main engine who makes it all possible.   So many others gave so freely of their time, energy and expertise, but again especial thanks must go to Dr. Noga Shalit from ORT Braude College in Karmiel, which has hosted us in its wonderful facilities since the beginning.

Each year’s FestivaLimmud has an overarching theme of a relevant social issue, and this year it was ''Neighbors.''    The participating lecturers’ brief was to give their personal perspective and experience of what good neighborliness is, whether we can achieve it and, if so, how.

The opening panel comprised Professor Iris Aravot, professor in urban design and theory at the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion in Haifa, Dr. Mustafa Abbasi, a historian specializing in field of Eretz Israel and Head of the Department of Multi-disciplinary Studies at Tel Hai Academic College and Mira Awadsinger, actress, and songwriter from the Arab town of Rame, east of Karmiel.

Professor Aravot gave her insights into the components of neighborliness, especially from the architectural angle of urban planning, house design and fences.   Dr Abbasi described the image of Moses in the Koran, where he is known as Mūsā, giving pause for thought about the potential for common ground between us through this shared personage in our religions.   Mira Awad shared her experience being born and raised in the Galil in the Arab town of Rame, and later living as an Arab within a Jewish community. 

The 200 participants then split up, each choosing one of fourteen classes, each with its own educator giving a fascinating take on the topic.  

At the end of the day, everyone met up together for an amazing and unique musical event that brought together musicians Diane Kaplan, George Samaan, Dana Keren and Ze'ev Kitzis, who come from diverse religious backgrounds and musical traditions.   Not having played together before, their moving and deep musical performance and the ease with which they played together was a fitting metaphor with which to end the day, as everyone joined them in songs for Kabalat Shabbat.

Dubi encapsulated the essence of the message even before the music began, when he announced that “we are going to witness the first and last rehearsal of this group!”

Everyone left spiritually uplifted and full of the possibilities for a better society, a suitable mood with which to return home in time for Shabbat.


Photo credits: all photos reproduced with the kind permission of Moshe Shalit.