Limmud eFestival 2022 Limmud eFestival 2022
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End of America’s “Andalusian” Golden Age?

Zoom 28

Benjamin Rubin, a Toronto lawyer by trade, was Festival Chair of Limmud Toronto 2018. Under his pen name, eBenBrandeis, he composes poetry, lyrics and YouTube video poems. He has edited and published a book of contemporary Jewish humor, translated from the Hebrew an autobiography of life in pre-war Pinsk, Poland, and was the creator of NewHouseOfIsrael, an online Zionist conceptual art project. Having lived in Israel for four years, he has maintained a special interest in Israeli contemporary music. He has an abiding interest in the Golden Age of Hebrew poets from Andalusia, and the Muslim-Christian-Jewish convivencia of Spain. Writer, producer and director of the Zoom teleplay series, “Golden Age Travel”, about the 12th century Hebrew poet and Arabic Jewish philosopher, Yehuda HaLevi, travelling through time. Episodes of the series have been performed online at Limmud Festivals in Toronto, Boston, Seattle and Winnipeg. GAT episode IV, “North End 1924”, which combined 12th Century Mission Impossible, 1920s Winnipeg Yiddish theater, and music, in an exploration of who we are and where we come from, premiered at Winnipeg Limmud in March 2021 and was presented at the Canadian Society for Jewish Studies annual conference in May 2021. The latest episode, "Berlin 28, Paris 38, Jerusalem 61", that premiered at Limmud Toronto in November 2021, explores the Golden Age of Weimar German Jews by getting to know the minds and hearts of two of its celebrated heroes: the cultural philosopher, Walter Benjamin, and the political philosopher, Hannah Arendt. A voyage of discovery into history’s tangled tales, and the mysteries of identity – theirs, and ours.

We are aware the Jewish presence in Christian Spain ended in 1492 with Expulsion. Less well known: how the far more golden age of Jews in Muslim Spain ended in 12th century, with Islamic reformers who brought to Andalusia, and its Muslim-Jewish convivencia, a purist fundamentalist credo that ended conditions under which Arabic-speaking Jews thrived. What parallels are there today that threaten the golden age of North American Jewry?