Sur­ven erdves WeneÒts d[ be­ing a Lim­mud vol­un­teer

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY SI­MON ROCKER

LIM­MUD HAS made a largely pos­i­tive im­pact on the Jewish life of its vol­un­teers, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey for the cross-com­mu­nal ed­u­ca­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion.

From the first con­fer­ence in the UK in 1980, the or­gan­i­sa­tion has grown to at­tract an es­ti­mated 40,000 peo­ple a year in events across the Jewish world.

So­ci­ol­o­gist Keith Kahn-Harris, who was com­mis­sioned by Lim­mud to carry out the re­search, found “clear ev­i­dence” that it “ad­vances the ma­jor­ity of its vol­un­teers on their Jewish jour­neys. And for a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion, it takes them fur­ther to­wards greater in­ter­est in and com­mit­ment to Jewish life.”

The find­ings were based on more than 500 re­sponses to an on­line sur­vey of 10 Lim­mud groups in eight coun­tries cov­er­ing Amer­ica, South Africa, South Amer­ica and Europe, in­clud­ing the UK. They also re­flected fo­cus groups at the Lim­mud Fes­ti­val in War­wick last year and dis­cus­sions at the re­cent global fo­rum for Lim­mud vol­un­teers in Is­rael.

Eighty-nine per cent of vol­un­teers said Lim­mud had in­creased their Jew- ish knowl­edge, 68 per cent felt it had deep­ened their sense of con­nec­tion to the Jewish peo­ple and 65 per cent said it had led to greater en­gage­ment with Jewish learn­ing. Eighty-two per cent be­lieved Lim­mud had en­abled them to in­ter­act with Jews from dif­fer­ent back­grounds to their own.

“You get out of your com­fort zone,” one re­spon­dent said.

Dr Kahn-Harris said the find­ing that 20 per cent of the vol­un­teers had been in­spired by Lim­mud to help launch Jewish ini­tia­tives was “very sig­nif­i­cant.

“It only takes a few such ini­tia­tives to have a sub­stan­tial im­pact on Jewish com­mu­ni­ties.”

Forty-eight per cent said they had be­come more in­volved in their Jewish com­mu­nity as a re­sult of Lim­mud — three times as many as those who felt the op­po­site.

Thirty-seven per cent said their Jewish in­ter­est and com­mit­ment had in­creased since their first Lim­mud. Eleven per cent said it had di­min­ished.

Although 52 per cent re­ported no change in their Jewish in­ter­est and com­mit­ment, Dr Kahn-Harris be­lieved Lim­mud might well be a fac­tor in “sus­tain­ing” it.

Pos­i­tive im­pact was great­est among those un­der 40, his sur­vey found, and there was no dif­fer­ence among the var­i­ous de­nom­i­na­tions.

“When Lim­mud in­vests in vol­un­teers through pro­vid­ing train­ing and sub­si­dies, higher lev­els of im­pact are achieved,” he said.

“Fund­ing more young peo­ple to en­able them to par­tic­i­pate and vol­un­teer will lead to greater im­pact on them, on Lim­mud and on the Jewish com­mu­nity.”

But he sug­gested the or­gan­i­sa­tion took steps to re­duce the risk of burnout among vol­un­teers.

It takes them to­wards greater in­ter­est’

PHOTO: LEIVI SALTMAN

Get­ting in tune with Lim­mud at the UK na­tional event

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