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Limmud Oz Fest Finds the Missing Generation

December 8, 2011 – 9:55 pm7 Comments
Punk Jews, directed by Jesse Mann, produced by Evan Kleinman.

One of the most popular sessions was Evan Kleinman's screening of his film, Punk Jews

By Anthony Frosh
After the most recent Limmud Oz that took place at Monash University Caulfield campus in Melbourne (2010), there was considerable discussion about the absence of young people. Indeed, an article in this publication, The Missing Generation of Limmud Oz, documented that few people in their thirties or younger attended.

However, the most recent Limmud event to occur in Australia, Limmud Oz Fest, held the weekend before last at a campsite near Daylesford, Victoria, demonstrated that there is plenty of demand from the “missing generation.” That is, as long as the event is marketed and organised in a fashion that appeals to this demographic.

A little over a month before Limmud Oz Fest, the organisers of the event held a preliminary event called Taste of Fest. It was held at the popular Pause bar on Carlisle St, and provided an opportunity for people who were considering attending the Fest weekend to meet fellow travellers and find out about some of the sessions that would take place.  The evening featured a number of highly talented Jewish musicians who performed against a backdrop of a projected slideshow providing information on several sessions and presenters who would be appearing at Fest. An entertaining panel session where Alana Bruce, the evening’s MC, interviewed a few presenters about their upcoming sessions.divided up the musical acts.  This preliminary event proved to be a terrific evening, attracting plenty of young people and providing promotional momentum for the Fest .

The Limmud Oz Fest weekend itself proved to be just as well organised, albeit with a higher degree of difficulty. And while young people were abound, there were also many people from older generations as well as several young families.  It was an incredible effort from the organisers who not only assembled a brilliant array of sessions, including outstanding local talent as well as some top-notch overseas presenters (including Jeffrey Yoskowitz ,Evan Kleinman, David Brown, and Shani Tzoref), but also managed to be constantly feeding attendees with Kosher meals. All of this took place at a perfectly serene campsite.

The professionalism of the organisers did not stop at the conclusion of weekend. I had barely been back in Melbourne a day when I opened by inbox to find an invitation to an electronic survey (and a very well designed survey at that – and I should know – it’s how I make my living) in regard to my Limmud Oz Fest experience, and any thoughts I had on how it could have been improved.  It seems the organisers are determined to do even better come the next Fest.

The success of the event has reverberated around the world, with event receiving praise from Limmud international  (who had provided guidance and moral support) and ROI

So the question remains: How does Limmud Oz attract young people to the non-Fest variety of event? Or perhaps the question is: If young people attend Fest, is there a need to try to get them to also attend the regular Limmud Oz? I think the answer to the latter question is probably yes.  It’s clearly better for the Limmud brand if they can grow both types of events, and it’s difficult to foresee any growth if it doesn’t involve attracting young people.  With regard to the former question, a good start would be if the established Limmud committee (who I understand provided significant funding for Fest) capitalised on synergies with the highly capable young people who did such a great job of promoting and organising Fest.  In the meantime, hats off to the organisers, Malki Rose, Alana Bruce, Cygal Pellach, Alex Kats, Keren Tuch, Nikki Peipert, Seraphya Berrin, and all the rest of the dedicated volunteers.

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