Get in ‘Le Mood’ for LimmudBoston

  • Written by MATT ROBINSON
  • Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 06:00
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Steffi Aronson Karp
Steffi Aronson Karp

Special to the Journal

CHESTNUT HILL — Boston, with its vibrant communities, schools and shuls, and where there is such a love of learning, provides the ideal setting for an idea-sharing gathering such as LimmudBoston.

On Sunday, December 8, at the fourth annual LimmudBoston conference, the Jewish community will have the opportunity to embrace and explore a wide variety of topics. LimmudBoston 2013 will be held at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill, MA.

Limmud is Hebrew for "study." According to LimmudBoston organizer Steffi Aronson Karp, the Limmud concept began in England in 1980, when three Jewish educators placed an ad in local papers saying that anyone who wanted to "do something Jewish" on Christmas Day should show up at a meeting hall. From that initial gathering of about 80 people, Limmud has exploded into an international movement in 80 cities throughout the world that engages many thousands each year. Participants attend sessions focusing on all aspects of Jewish life — from art and philosophy, to politics and spirituality.

After attending the first Limmud Atlanta in 2008, Karp knew she had to bring it home to Boston.

"Everyone I spoke with said, ‘If you start it, I’m in,’" Karp recalled.

A self-described Jewish conference junkie since her high school days in NEFTY, NFTY and SMARTY on Boston’s North Shore, Karp (with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers) launched LimmudBoston in 2010. The annual event has been wildly successful, drawing more than 1,000 participants to Mishkan Tefila last year.

The various volunteer LimmudBoston Program Teams have created an exciting lineup of inspirational program this year.

"There will be plenty of scholars, and lots of funky, fun other stuff," said Karp, mentioning that a playwright will read his latest piece, and a bird watcher will present a talk on the birds of Israel.

There will be lectures by volunteer presenters on all sorts of subjects. The topic of b’nei mitzvah will be covered by luminaries such as Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, head of the new URJ B’nei Mitzvah Revolution, and Jeffrey Salkin, author of the award-winning book, "Putting God on the Guest List."

Other sessions include a Jewish take on the popular Zumba exercise program called "Jewmba," a community art exchange with Tova Speter, and presentations by organizations such as CAMERA.

"No matter what your affiliation or your perspective," Karp promises, "LimmudBoston offers opportunities to deepen and share knowledge. Once again there is a Camp Limmud program for families with children ages 3-13.

"At LimmudBoston, everyone is a learner," Karp added. There is something for everyone, beginner to scholar, young to young-at-heart, those who never walk into synagogues and those who find themselves in a synagogue every day."

"We believe in the pluralistic idea of k’lal Yisrael," Karp explained. "We share ideas, and are eager to learn from all kinds of people."

Earlier this year, for her part in founding LimmudBoston, Karp was honored with the K’lal Yisrael Award from the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts.

She notes that there is an entire generation of Jews that has been raised in a culture based on the Limmud concepts of pluralism, respect and dynamic experiential education.

As attendees arrive at LimmudBoston on December 8, they will be greeted by what Karp calls volunticipants (volunteer participants). These individuals will help attendees register and then select from the more than a dozen offerings available each hour. The schedule is also posted online at

Since LimmudBoston is held in a kosher building, participants are encouraged to order lunch tickets in advance. Also, Boston’s first kosher food truck, the Chubby Chickpea, plans to park in front of the building.

Karp encourages everyone to come to LimmudBoston to "recharge their Jewish batteries," and experience all that the Jewish world has to offer.

"LimmudBoston is an annual opportunity to explore whatever and wherever you want to go next on your Jewish journey," Karp said.

To register, visit

Last modified on Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 06:00

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Steffi Aronson Karp

Steffi Aronson Karp

Participants at last year’s LimmudBoston.

Participants at last year’s LimmudBoston.


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