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The Missing Generation of Limmud Oz

June 15, 2010 – 5:17 pm20 Comments
Very few under 30s attended Limmud Oz

Very few under 30s attended Limmud Oz

By Samara Hersch

Last weekend, as the Queen celebrated another year of her life, I celebrated my own Jewish life and identity at the Limmud Oz festival of Jewish learning and culture in Melbourne. I attended talks on the Middle East conflict, Jewish pluralism, Yiddish literature, Israeli films and inspiring interfaith initiatives. I danced to Israeli music, listened to friends DJ during sessions, learnt the entire Jewish history in 1 hour with David Solomon in one of the most brilliant educational experiences I’ve ever had – and this is just to name a few…

What struck me, however, was that at this dynamic and highly important celebration, no doubt like the Queen’s party, there were not many young people like myself present. This is not only disappointing but also extremely troubling. This absence was so obvious that guest speaker Daniel Landes in the panel on religious pluralism felt the need to make mention of the missing generation at the festival, posing the question: why is Limmud not seeming relevant? Where are the youth, the future leaders? Why don’t they care and more importantly how can we make them care?

In my peers’ defense, many parents spoke about university exams clashing with the Limmud weekend. To me, this seems highly problematic. I am unaware of the logistics or the tradition that allows Limmud to take place on this long weekend each year– but whatever those reasons are, it seems a terrible tragedy if this time slot is essentially discouraging young people from attending.

For me, Limmud highlights some of the rich values of Judaism that I feel so proud to have attained– those being the Jewish desire for education, debate and growth. It is these values that make so many Jews passionate, dynamic and engaged members of society. I can only hope that contrary to the Queen’s (dare I say) growing insignificance in our everyday life, the Jewish value of learning becomes ever stronger and more pertinent for all generations to enjoy and revere.

Samara Hersch has a Masters in Theatre Direction from the Victorian College of the Arts. She is currently developing a new theatre work with members of Access Inc. a Jewish disability organization for the upcoming Melbourne Fringe Festival.

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