10 / 01 / 13
Onkar and Param’s Reflections on the Jewish learning conference
Param and I were delighted when 3FF invited us to their sessions at Limmud 2012 to present on behalf of City Sikhs. At this stage we didn’t fully grasp what Limmud was, but we knew it was a big deal in the Jewish community. While Limmud has often played host to Christian, Muslim and Buddhist guests, we heard we were among the first Sikhs to present there, which made this opportunity especially exciting.
Limmud, it transpires, is a Jewish learning and culture conference, buzzing with sessions on a wide variety of Jewish and secular topics. From the outset we were totally captivated by the experience of Limmud. It was similar to the amazing environment found in much smaller scale Sikh retreats that we’ve attended in the past. There was a lovely sense of assumed friendship, where, even though we had only just met someone, it felt like we had been friends for some time.
The first session we were involved in was “Social Action: Sikh Style,” exploring the motivations for social action in the Sikh Community and the similarities and differences to Jewish ideas. The session turned out to be a two-way learning exchange and Param and I were taken aback by the active interest shown by the “Limmud’niks”. At one point I looked at the session plan we had put together and folded it up as I knew we would not get through it due to the sheer number of fantastic questions being asked by participants.
Param and I both learnt a lot about the Jewish faith from Rabbi Natan Levy who was also on the panel with us, as well as other sessions we attended. The remarkable number of similarities reinforced the idea that Sikhs and Jews should collaborate more often on interfaith projects, be it to learn more about each other, or towards joint social action.
The second session was just as enjoyable. This was a larger interfaith panel, “I did what I had to do” where five community leaders – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Sikh – shared stories of difficult decisions they had made. The environment and atmosphere was incredibly inviting and people asked a whole host of questions. People came up to us afterwards to continue conversations we had started during the presentation, and it was a shame there was not more time to continue.
We would like to thank our friends at 3FF for inviting us to Limmud and organising the sessions, which really demonstrated the great things that can happen when people from different faiths work together. We certainly hope to come back in future years.
Onkardeep Singh Khalsa and Param Singh
City Sikhs Network