Limmud AZ: A Community Conversation

presented by the Center for Jewish Philanthropy of Greater Phoenix


Sunday, January 28, 2024


Pardes Jewish Day School, 12753 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254


  • EARLY BIRD - $18 for EVERYONE 


Our day will unfold in four captivating segments:

  • Judaism’s Ten Best Ideas: Dive into profound discussions led by some of our most cherished local rabbis. Explore the essence of simcha, teshuva, tzelem elohim, and more in intimate small group settings.
  • “Building a Community Culture of Belonging:” Immerse yourself in a thought-provoking keynote address by a special guest, setting the stage for an enlightening exploration of this vital topic in breakout sessions led by esteemed agency heads and professionals.
  • Classic Limmud Learning: Choose from a diverse array of captivating topics, ensuring you’ll find a session of Jewish learning that resonates with your unique journey and interests.
  • Community Tzedakah/Tikkun Olam Project: Join hands with your fellow participants as we unite for a common purpose - to contribute to repairing the world, one meaningful action at a time.


1:00 -1:50 PM - Judaism’s 10 Best Ideas

Individual sessions led by some of our favorite rabbis: Emily Segal, Suzy Stone, Nitzan Stein-Kokin, Tracee Rosen, Jeremy Schneider, Andy Green, Debbie Stiell, Sara Mason-Barkin, Aviva Funke, and Michael Wasserman

"Simchah, or joy, is the attitude toward life that Judaism seeks to instill. Despite the fact that Jewish history has more than its share of bleak and depressing chapters, the tradition sees itself as a joyous one."

"We choose to follow [halakhah] out of personal commitment; it is our way of expressing such deep feelings as our love of God, our attachment to the legacy of the Jewish people, and our sense of the need to apply our spiritual beliefs to the conduct of even the most mundane human affairs."

"But today we look at Shabbat from a different, more contemporary, perspective. We are living through one of the great ages of the speeding up of human consciousness. How incredibly fast the pace of our lives has become!"

Torah - People of the Book
"Interpretation opens and widens the text, allows us to find ourselves within it, to make room within tradition for our own unique perspective. But it also affirms the text; we make Torah our own as we find ourselves in it."

L’chaim/To Life!
"Judaism's strength and inner wisdom have everything to do with the treasuring of life. We proclaim that life itself is a sacred gift and that God's presence is to be found in daily living. We exemplify that presence in human decency and kindness. God is glorified in the sacred moments that enrich the cycles of our years and lives, in the legacy that has carried us forward for so many centuries, allowing us to survive suffering and degradation with our heads held high."

Tzelem Elohim/The Value of A Human Life
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Rabbi Akiva says: This is the great principle of the Torah. Ben Azzai says: "This is the book of the generations of Adam" is the great principle of the Torah.”

Talmud Torah/Transmitting Jewish Tradition
“If you were to ask me what single precept of Judaism is the one to which Jews feel the greatest commitment, I could answer completely without hesitation. 'You shall teach them diligently to your children': the commandment to educate, to pass the legacy of tradition and its knowledge onward from generation to generation. Jews have a particularly strong awareness that our lives serve as bridges between those who came before us and those who will come after us; each of us is a living link between our grandparents and our grandchildren."

Tikkum Olam
"In order to mend or repair something, you first have to acknowledge that it is broken. Tikkun Olam begins with recognizing that we live in a broken world."

Echad/Oneness - The Interconnectedness of All Things
"Don't look beyond the stars. There's no need to stretch your neck. God is right here, filling all of existence with endless bounty. Look around you. Look within. Open your eyes. Find God's presence in each and every creature and in the unified, transforming vision of all that is. That's what it means to belong to Israel, the people who struggle with God."

Teshuvah - Returning
"Other voices within the tradition understand the claim of primordial teshuvah to mean that our human longing to return to our Source is fully part of the natural order. We are born to be God seekers. The soul quests after God in the same way that trees grow in the direction of sunlight, pulled by an inner force that tells them to reach out toward what they need, to attain their nourishment. Their very lives depend upon their ability to respond to this inward call.”

2:00 - 2:50 PM - A Community of Belonging

Keynote session with Wendy Verba, moderated by David Singer

Community Facilitators:
Gail Baer, CJP Vice President
Rich Kasper, JD CAP, Chief Executive Officer
Ellen Sacks, Executive Director of Jewish Free Loan
Kaylie Medansky, CJP Senior Director, Community Engagement
Mason Marks. Moishe House & Temple Solel
Andrea Cohen, CJP Bnai Tzedek Shalom Phoenix
Amy Hummell, Gesher Executive Director
Lisa Kaplan, Assistant Director, Dept of Jewish Studies, ASU

3:00 - 3:50 PM - Classic Limmud Learning

Your Soul Contract Decoded via The Spiritual Numerology of Moses with Gellyannah Akhenn
Most of us have wondered and asked the existential questions … Why am I here and What is my purpose? And while our existence is sometimes the biggest mystery to ourselves, what if I told you the clues, and possibly even the answers, are actually hidden in the sound frequency of your birth name?

In the Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Creation, we get an explanation of how The Creator created the universe/world through the sounds of the 22 Hebrew Letters. Each one of us carries a combination of these 22 Hebrew sounds within our birth name, which in turn, creates our reality.

Sound is creation. The sound of your name(s) carries with it the specific vibrations of your Soul. When decoding these vibrations through the Spiritual Numerology of Moses, you literally see the set of experiences at a physical and spiritual level that your Soul had set out to experience in this lifetime.

In this session we will explain how this methodology works and everyone will get a chance to create their own Numerology of Moses Soul Contract chart and get a brief explanation of the meaning of each frequency.


Positively Israel: Combating Antisemitism on College Campuses with René Reinhard
Description coming soon!


3G Stories Live with Jennifer Sosnow & Adena Bernstein Astrowsky
Join the founders of 3GAZ and hear their first-hand testimony as they share their grandparent's stories of how they survived the Holocaust. Understand the inherited trauma and how it affects the 3G population, and learn about Holocaust education in Arizona


The Disappearance of John Jones’ Wife and Daughters with Janette Silverman
John Jones arrived in California in 1850 and quickly established himself as a businessman and pillar of the Jewish community. History books tell us that he previously lived in Australia and sailed from there with his wife and daughters. What happened to them? Did they die onboard the ship? Did he desert them? Was it something more sinister? Let’s take a closer look at John Jones and his family and discover the real story.


How Limmud Animates Jewish Lives: Perspective from Four Rabbis' Trip to Paradise with David Singer
If you ran into God, how would you react? The Talmud tells us a fantastical tale that provides deep insight into the hopes and fears of the rabbis, while offering a window into prognoses for the Jewish future as well, summing up the essence of what Limmud is all about. In this session, join Limmud North America CEO Rabbi David Singer to mine ancient and modern texts as we explore opportunities for building a brighter Jewish future, based on belief, cynicism, and the potent power of holy rebellion.


Please See Me! with Stacy Rosenthal
This session will include members of the Gesher Disability Resource community, who will conduct a panel discussion about what they wish people knew about living with a disability. They will be addressing topics such as:

  • “How to talk about disability with kids and adults”
  • “How to get to know someone with a disability”
  • “Debunking assumption


Scotch Whiskey and the Jewish Question with Michael Weil
This interactive presentation will focus on the recent advent of whiskey clubs in synagogues.

We will trace the history of Scotch whiskey, learn how whiskey is made and understand the different types. We will learn about what is a single malt, the wash, stills, the angel’s share, nosing, the finish and peaty.The presentation will be dilated by tastings of various Scotches while understanding their unique attributes. We will talk about whiskey and the Jews; is whiskey kosher and what the rabbis think about intoxication. We will add a joke or two and end with a vort (bit of religious thought) to stagger away with. Drinks and nibbles may be provided depending on the behavior of the audience. Must be 21 to participate.


How Can We Connect Better to Each Other with Wendy Verba
After the isolating, draining years of COVID, our workplaces are back to normal. But are they? Whether remote, hybrid or in-person, many teams are struggling with burnout, disconnection and silos. In employee surveys, workers report feeling invisible, uncertain how their roles matter, or lacking trusted relationships with co-workers. Thinking about the teams you are on, how might we design strategies to ensure that more people feel seen, valued, and connected to each other and your core mission?


Antisemitism and the Local Jewish Community: Let's Get Practical with Alan Zeichick & Jen Rogers
Let's not waste time with statistics: You know that antisemitism has been steadily getting worse across the United States and in our local community. The Israel/Hamas war and the upcoming 2024 elections will add fuel to the fire.

This session, brought to you by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix, will discuss the latest local trends in antisemitism, and will describe how the JCRC acts, whenever possible, to mitigate antisemitic incidents by depriving many perpetrators with what they desire most: Attention.
In addition, this session will provide practical guidance about what you can do to help: How to talk about the issue with your friends, how to recognize antisemitic incidents, and what to do when you witness or are directly affected by antisemitism.


The Enduring Practice of Judaism with Karolyn Benger
This class will examine Aggadata (non-legal stories in the Talmud) from the period after the destruction of the Temple as well as Halacha over the years of the Rishonim (first Rabbis in the Middle Ages), identifying how Judaism has managed to adapt over time in order to survive.

4:00 - 5:00 PM - Community Mitzvah Projects and Snacks

Introduced by Eddie Chavez Calderon



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What you can expect from your day at Limmud AZ

“Limmud” means “to learn.” It is a one-day celebration of Jewish life and learning!

For 2024, we will gather for a half-day of Jewish learning. During the first session, participants will be able to dive into Jewish texts with one of our local community rabbis. Next, we will come together to discuss strengthening our community. For our third session, we are thrilled to offer our traditional, "choose your own adventure" style where participants will learn from one of our diverse guest speakers. We will close our day with a service project, giving back to those in need.

The best thing about your day at Limmud AZ is that you will interact with a diverse group of Jews from our community who are all there to share in this exciting learning experience. It’s a great time to meet new friends and learn new viewpoints. The key to building community is understanding and respecting our similarities and our differences.