LimmudFest 2021 LimmudFest 2021

Hot Topics

Sunday, March 14, 2021

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Accessibility & Dignity: The Amazing Legacies of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum
Rabbi Dr Raphael Zarum
London School of Jewish Studies (LSJS), Dean

Why are these two men so important for the Jewish people today? Without one the Talmud would be a closed book for most modern Jews, and without the other, the deep meaning of Jewish tradition and the potential of the Jewish people would be diminished. In this session, their lives, ideas, and achievements will be summarised and peppered with personal stories. Laugh, learn, cry and hope…

This session is sponsored by the Sherry & Alan Leventhal Center for Interfaith Families.

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Build Power, Do Justice: An Introduction to Congregation-Based Organizing
Broderick Bagert
Broderick Bagert
Together New Orleans, Organizer

This session will introduce a model for engaging our congregations in an approach to doing justice that puts relationships, leadership development, and trust at the center of bringing about change to systems, not just symptoms. At the heart of this model are congregations engaging in deeper relationships with congregations and communities different from their own, especially across the lines of race and class.

By strengthening the capacity of our congregations to act on their missions in the world, we can strengthen the power of “everyday people” to affect the decisions and policies being made about them – decisions upon which the very strength and stability of families and communities depend.

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Making Waves: NOLA's New Mikveh & You
Rabbi Lexi Erdheim
Rabbi Lexi Erdheim
Gates of Prayer Synagogue, Assistant Rabbi
Rabbi Josh Pernick
Rabbi Josh Pernick
Beth Israel NOLA
Jessica Rosenberg
Jessica Rosenberg
Rising Tide Open Waters Mikveh Network, Director
Rabbi Bob Loewy
Rabbi Bob Loewy
Gates of Prayer Synagogue, Rabbi Emeritus

New Orleans is building a community mikveh! But what is a mikveh for anyway? Join Rabbis Josh Pernick and Lexi Erdheim along with Jessica Rosenberg of the Rising Tide Open Waters Mikveh Network to learn about the history and development of the mikveh from the Torah through today. We will explore contemporary re-imaginings of the mikveh and consider how you might use our community mikveh. Rabbi Bob Loewy will share updates about the progress of the mikveh and answer questions. 

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Erasing the Mental Health Stigma

In this session led by members of the BBYO Mental Health Task Force, you will learn about the mental health challenges facing many people, but particularly teens/young adults, during these unique times. Through videos, discussion, and anonymous writing, you will examine how stigma interacts with your own mental health and leave you with action steps for eliminating mental health stigma going forward!

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Mizrahi Feminism
Hadar Cohen
Hadar Cohen
Feminism All Night, Founder

This talk will weave how aspects of race, gender, and spirituality inform Mizrahi Feminism. Through personal experience and political discourse, this session will highlight the ways Ashkenormativity has taken over the Jewish world and erased the experiences and stories of Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews. It will be rooted in a framework of intersectional feminism that seeks to dismantle systems of oppression. This session is open to people of all backgrounds.

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Israel: Democracy on Life Support - Trying to Find the Pulse of a Nation
Mitchell Barak
Mitchell Barak
KEEVOON Research, Founder

Israel is in the midst of its fourth Parliamentary election in two years. The Knesset and the Government are barely functioning in one of the most challenging times in Israel’s history. People have lost faith in their elected officials who seemed detached from any reality or sense of responsibility. Why is Israeli Democracy on life support? Do Israelis have a pulse? Understanding who Israelis are and what they think is the key to understanding Israel. Utilizing exclusive public opinion research and polling data, a thorough perspective of Israelis is presented. What is the difference between Israeli Jews and Israeli Israelis? Ashkenazim and Sephardim? Left and Right? Religious and Secular? Veterans and Immigrants? Jews and Arabs? Learn how these various demographic groups impact the political system and the Knesset.

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In Quarantine with Anne Frank
Dr. Naomi Yavneh Klos
Dr. Naomi Yavneh Klos
Loyola University of New Orleans, Professor of Languages and Cultures

In the early days of the pandemic, the name Anne Frank was everywhere, whether as a Facebook meme or as a stern warning never to forget the unique horror of the Holocaust. But although Anne Frank is an iconic figure for Jews and non-Jews alike, most of us do not know the nuances of her story or its context in the Dutch experience of World War II. We also may not be aware that the "diary" we read is, in fact, a combination of Anne’s daily diary and her own (incomplete) revision, which she hoped to publish after the war. Looking at examples of Anne’s own writing and re-writing, we will consider how she might serve as a model of spiritual resilience and hope in a time of anxiety and hate.

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Israel and Our Jewish Values: Where do they mesh? Where do they conflict?
Rabbi Debra Kassoff
Rabbi Debra Kassoff
Hebrew Union Congregation, Rabbi
Rabbi David Gerber
Rabbi David Gerber
Gates of Prayer Synagogue, Senior Rabbi
Lynne Wasserman
Lynne Wasserman
Avodah, Board Chair

Join our panel of rabbis who lean left, right, and center for an honest discussion on the current state of affairs in Israel relating to the situation vis a vis the Palestinians and all aspects of Jewish life. Moderated by Lynne Wasserman, we will cover not only what we love about Israel, but also what bothers us and why. Bring your curiosity and your questions.

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Suicide: Why We Should All be Talking About it
Rachel Lazarus Erikson
Rachel Lazarus Erikson
Jewish Family Services, Director of Clinical Services
Nichole Valenzuela
Nichole Valenzuela
Jewish Family Services,Teen Life Counts, Program Manager
Lauren Gehman
Lauren Gehman
Metairie Park Country Day School, Head of the Counseling Department
Julie Schwartz
Julie Schwartz
Jewish Family Services,Teen Life Counts, Volunteer

Suicide is currently the 2nd cause of death among individuals 10-34 years old and the 4th for ages 35-54. There are 25 suicide attempts for every one death by suicide in the nation. One in four young adults has struggled with suicidal thoughts since the coronavirus hit. We need to be talking about suicide and what we can each do to help prevent it. For more than 30 years, Jewish Family Services (JFS) has brought Teen Life Counts (TLC) suicide prevention curriculum to students, faculty, and parents at local schools. The curriculum includes suicide statistics, the stigma associated with mental illness, the warning signs of suicide, how to have a conversation with peers and adults, and where to get help. Join JFS Clinical Director, TLC Program Manager, TLC volunteer, and Country Day Head of School for an open and honest conversation around the topic of suicide and what we can do to combat it.

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Jewish Leadership in Turbulent Times
Aaron Ahlquist
Aaron Ahlquist
Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Regional Director
Arnie Fielkow
Arnie Fielkow
Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, CEO

Join ADL Regional Director Aaron Ahlquist and Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans CEO Arnie Fielkow for a discussion moderated by New Orleans Councilman Joe Giarrusso about meeting the challenges facing the Jewish community in an environment of polarization, rising Antisemitism, pandemic, and fraying Jewish unity and identity. The conversation will frame the challenges, and discuss the work being done to navigate the troubled waters.

This session is generously sponsored by the Goldring Family Foundation Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs.