Limmud comes to L.A.

LimmudLA will hold its second annual summer Fest — a celebration of Jewish culture and learning — Aug. 15- 17. The retreat, run entirely by volunteers, will be held at the American Jewish University’s Brandeis-Bardin Campus in Simi Valley and is open to Jews of all ages and backgrounds.

Aki Yonekawa, Brandeis-Bardin’s director of programming and president of the event, said the Fest will feature sessions on a variety of topics, including creating prayers, writing poetry, medical ethics and shechitah, or kosher animal slaughter. There will also be daily hikes around the campus and an evening of participant-led music, she said.

“Mostly, we want people to be able to try something new and meet someone new,” Yonekawa said, adding that the LimmudLA Fest will allow attendees to “take one step further on [their] Jewish journey.”

Speakers and workshop presenters at this year’s Fest include Paul Root Wolpe, an Emory University bioethics professor (and brother of Sinai Temple’s David Wolpe); Sue Fishkoff, editor of j., the Northern California Jewish weekly; David Siegel, Israel consul general of Los Angeles; Dov Waxman, a political science professor at the City University of New York who specializes in Israeli and Middle Eastern politics; Samuel Lebens, a blogger for; and Taya Shere, co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. 

Last year’s retreat drew 180 attendees, and Yonekawa expects to see between 150 and 200 participants this year.

She recommends that participants bring water bottles, hats and comfortable walking shoes. A selection of lodging options are available, from camping and shared cabins to motel-style rooms and deluxe suites.

LimmudLA is a nonprofit organization that seeks to connect Southern California Jews from diverse backgrounds. In addition to hosting Fests, the organization creates a variety of events that emphasize community building and leadership. This is the second year LimmudLA has held the Fest at Brandeis-Bardin. From 2008-2012, the organization held a similar multiday conference at the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa each February. 

Yonekawa said there are many volunteering opportunities at the Fest; among these are helping to supervise children, assisting at the help desk, setting up and cleaning up after the event.

Participants can still register online at the organization’s website, Prices for the three-day event are all-inclusive and range from $200 to $600 for adults and $125 to $150 for children, depending on the type of lodging. Children 2 and younger are welcome to attend the Fest for free. 

All donations made during registration will go toward scholarships for people who might otherwise have difficulty attending the event.