Last December, Karen Ettinger, Education Program Manager, and Dr. Yoel Finkelman, Curator of the Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection, represented the National Library of Israel at the 2016 Limmud Conference at Pendigo Lake, Birmingham, UK.
Limmud Conference is the flagship event of Limmud, dedicated to Jewish learning in all its variety, taking people 'one step further in their Jewish journey', attracting over 3000 participants each year.
Karen gave 4 sessions, presenting a fascinating range of materials from the National Library's archives, which included:
Letters from famous Jewish figures -
What is common to a hysterical letter from a shop owner to Naomi Shemer (the song writer), a dismissal letter from one Jew to another in the Nazi period, a suicide note, a love letter from an imprisoned husband to his wife, the last letter from a young Jewish heroine to her young brother and a letter from an orthodox Rabbi concerning matriculation exams? These and many others are letters from famous Jewish figures that can be found in the archives of the National Library!
What is the connection between the Beatles and the Yom Kippur War?
Can you believe that one of the most famous Israeli songs was originally intended as an Israeli version of one of the Beatles most famous songs? How is this connected to the Yom Kippur War and the dream for peace?
Women and Feminism -
Among its treasures, the National Library houses a rare Italian siddur from the 15th century with an astonishing feminist message… Explore this and other primary sources showing different sides to being a Jewish woman.
Jewish Struggles in the 19th and 20th Century -
Find out about important Jewish struggles for freedom in the 19th and 20th centuries: the right to justice and emancipation in 19th-century Europe, the freedom to live in Israel in the years before the establishment of the state, the fight for the right to make Aliya by Soviet, Ethiopian, and Syrian Jews and others… All of these events can be explored through posters and documents from the archives of the National Library.
Yoel presented 2 sessions:
Why Does the Talmud Look so Odd? How Jewish Scribes and a Venetian Christian Printer Created the Page of Talmud -
If you have ever learned even a page of Talmud, you are familiar with the odd page layout. The text of the Talmud sits in the middle of the page, with multiple, unevenly shaped commentaries surrounding it. Around the margins, footnotes and reference tools point the reader to numerous other works. How did this page layout come about, and why for the Talmud and not for so many other books? Who turned it into the universal format for Talmud printing, and why did it catch on? As the world commemorates 500 years since the founding of the Venice ghetto, we discover that among the major successes of Renaissance Venetian Jewry, we can include the page of the Talmud as a lasting contribution.
The Day Ghengis Khan's Descendants Wiped out the Jewish Community on the Silk Road: An Introduction to the Afghan Geniza -
You can read more about the Afghan Geniza here.
In addition, the 2016 Limmud Conference saw the UK launch of the NLI's new exhibition:
Jewish Languages – 7 panels explaining the history of Jewish Languages, including: Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, Yiddish, Ladino; Modern Hebrew and other Jewish Languages illustrated with stunning examples from the National Library's collections.
Find out more about Limmud.
Thank you Caron Sethill, Karen Ettinger, and Dr. Yoel Finkelman for the information in this article.
All photographs credited to Karen Ettinger.