In Israel for a first-of-its-kind event, five Limmud volunteers outline the challenges facing their far-flung communities in the Diaspora… writes Judy Maltz for Ha’aretz.

One hundred and fifty participants gathered in Israel last week for a first-of-its-kind event by Limmud, the organization that sponsors Jewish learning festivals around the world.

Representing 50 local communities in 25 different countries, they are all volunteers in this predominantly volunteer-led global initiative.

They come from places as remote as New Zealand and Costa Rica, and engage in professions as diverse as human rights advocacy and cruise ship staff recruitment.

Ha’aretz interviewed some of them – including New Zealand’s representative…

limmud-israel

Adina Halpern, New Zealand:

Even before she relocated to New Zealand 23 years ago, Adina Halpern was familiar with the challenges of life in a small Jewish community.

“I grew up in a small community 30 miles [50 kilometers] from London,” she recounts. “There, and then in New Zealand, I learned that if you want there to be a Jewish community, you need to be involved – because no one else is going to do it for you.”

“There are 4,000 Jews in New Zealand, and 400 come to our events,” she notes. “That’s a huge percentage, and they come from all over the country.”

Participants at this year’s Limmud New Zealand festival, scheduled for next month, are in for a treat, says the 58-year-old.

The opening event will feature a performance by a Maori tribe. Anticipating the question, she notes that there are many similarities between the Jewish and Maori cultures.

“For example, we mourn the same way and we suffer from the same problem with lateness. No one else in New Zealand is late apart from the Jews and the Maori.”

Read the full article on Haaretz.com here.

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