Last Limmud I threw myself in the deep end and attempted to team up with a youth worker and some teenagers to run a 1-hour workshop (known in limmudnik lingo as a session) on the subject of climate change.
At the Alter-COP in Paris I found a good educator and put it to her, and her friend, what is the best way to teach these kids climate change in an hour or so.
My next challenge, set me by the Manc day-Limmud programming team, is to speak at a session on Tikun Olam (excuse the jargon, this roughly translates as "be the change you wish to see in the world") and Torah. Torah Le-shem-shamayim, Learning from text for the sake of heaven, i.e. education and raising awareness, is a core value of Limmud.
I wonder if readers who know anything about Judaism (or indeed Islam and other spiritual teachings) can give me a few things I might like to talk about and how I can make the session vaguely entertaining and engaging even funny and useful.
I am thinking of doing something to do with Green Party. I also have other interests: The event will take place 2 weeks before Tu Bishvat so I might like to give people a resource for that. it will be after Hannukah and a week after the Torah portion of Bo, (Hebrew for come, relating the story of "let my people go")
So here are a few ideas I have so far
- My own Limmud journey: Particularly ecological Judaism meeting people like Naomi Tzur from NSPNI and Alon Tal from the JNF-KKL, Arik Ashermann that legend of Tikun Olam who inspired me organising over in West Hendon just as he organised in Bedouin neighbourhoods of Israel, Our own eco audit of Limmud, using plastic disposable biodegradeble items, maybe how Grassroots high holy days services.
and the importance of cross-communal education at Limmud, UJS, and other institutions
How that might translate into a session I don't know but maybe I could bring a text from Rabbis for Human Rights, or the liturgy, such as last year's Tu Bishvat seder that I took part in 3rd night.
- Chavrutah (breakout into pairs) study of certain texts. These might be from a range of traditions
"What is hateful to you do not do unto thy neighbour. That is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary" - Rabbi Hillel
Story-telling (the Talmud torah tradition of agada')
I suppose the best way of opening a discussion on Israel in a Torah context would be to talk about The Land of Israel as opposed to the modern State of Israel. Unlike the state, the land has very clearly defined borders which can be quoted from Gittin (chapter of the Jewish Talmud)
"No country is free of the risk of terrorist attack, and the so-called war on terror has failed to make people safer in the US, Europe or Israel" - Lesley Grahame, Green Party Shadow Cabinet, in response to the Fairness for Israel Charter 2015. (this is widely available and will be made available)
"להילחם בטרור זה כמו לאכול מרק במזלג."
"To wage war on terror is like eating soup with a fork." Shimon Peres, 1997
I'd like to narrow down the handouts to 2 sheets of large print with gaps for notes around the outside.
A response to Trump might be a good starting point Psalm 1:1. I'll google now if there are any musical settings to this ancient piece of hebrew literature.
In terms of Tikun Olam itself if there is time at the end it's probably worth quoting the origin of the phrase from the Alenu prayer and its original and modern meanings.
Climate change has been tackled by Liberal Judaism's magazine, the print edition of Tenoua, in a special issue which focused on the concept of "Adam". It's been written about in classic collections of essays in the past by people like Rabbi Arthur Waskow