It’s always great hearing what the international presenters say after their Limmud SA experience. These are people who travel far distances, come to a country most of them have never visited before (and often have strange expectations of), only to be blown away by the friendliness of our people and the awesomeness of our events.
This year was no different. And while there were some with constructive criticism – like the presenter who wanted to know what the tipping practices were in South Africa to avoid uncomfortable situations, or the one who said the food was so good but there was a bit too much of it – the responses were overwhelmingly positive.
“South Africa – cool!” said presenter David Wolpe who was named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine. He summed up the experience as such: “I learned about a country and community, saw three very interesting cities and met wonderful people”.
“I enjoyed Limmud SA a million times more than Oxford, which was stuffy and pompous,” said widely published anthropologist Sharonah Fredrick. “Limmud SA was warm and friendly – people tried to avoid conflict and see different angles of situations.” Sharonah is a seasoned presenter who has presented at Limmud conferences around the world, so her detailed feedback was useful, and flattering. “Politics/history/society tracks at Limmud SA are better than Limmud UK and USA,” she said. “There is serious content, which is more interesting than propaganda/hadracha sessions. People want to be challenged, not pandered to. Limmud SA does that better than the other English speaking Limmuds that I have seen.”
Activist and filmmaker Matan Rosenstrauch said he learned a lot about the South African community and about Limmud. He went on to write an article about his experience of Limmud in Hebrew Haaretz “Limmud – one more step in your Jewish journey”.
The presenters also appreciated what was organized for them beyond the conferences. Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner loved the post-Limmud safari and felt “great camaraderie between internationals”. Expert on the Middle East, Nir Boms, also found it was great to bond with other presenters. Theology professor Ruth Langer was grateful for the opportunity to see South Africa through the eyes of so many different people. And presenters like spoken word performer Caroline Rothstein and comedian Benji Lovitt were extremely appreciative for paid gigs organized by Wayne Sussman.
“Keep doing what you’re doing,” encouraged author, editor and talmud teacher Gila Fine. “Limmud SA has a reputation for being the best Limmud experience, and I honestly didn’t understand how that could be (as they’re all so wonderful), but now I do. You really are the best.”