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Limmud Oz: how to argue, anti-lockdown antisemitism, peacebuilding

Michael Visontay
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Published: 12 August 2022

Last updated: 5 March 2024

MICHAEL VISONTAY previews a rich political and cultural smorgasbord at this year's event in Melbourne next month.

The program for Limmud 22, which will be held in Melbourne from September 3-4, has just been released. This year’s line-up of sessions encompasses the changing currents of Jewish thought and debate, with a swag of speakers reflecting on the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, gender issues and inclusivity, the environment and ethics.

Here are some speakers and sessions that stand out.


Abigail Dauber Sterne

Abi Sterne, who was founding director of Limmud New York, is the co-author of Stories for the Sake of Argument, a collection of short stories about Israel. Now living in Israel, Abi is a rabbinical student at the Shalom Hartman Institute and will be speaking about the importance of argument. Her sessions include Arguing as a Creative act, Stories for the Sake of Argument: Navigating Difficult Conversations about Israel and Is the Love Affair with Israel over?

Noah Efron

Noah is a professor in the program on science, technology & society at Bar Ilan University and is also a founder and leader of Israel’s Green Party. His eclectic sessions range from Jews and science to Israel in Five Songs and Why I Believe in Israel’s Future: A Father’s Story.

Elliott Malamet

Dr Elliott Malamet is the co-founder of Living Jewishly, a Canadian non-denominational organisation that explores the existential core of Judaism and spiritual living. After teaching English literature and Jewish philosophy for 25 years, he now lectures in Israel, consults on Jewish education and teen ethics. His sessions include the alluring titles of Judaism Chosenness and Racism, Jewish Ethics in a Contemporary World, and Judaism and Plague.

Christine Hayes

Christine Hayes is Professor of Religious Studies in Classical Judaica at Yale University where she teaches courses in Talmudic and Midrashic studies, Jewish history and culture. Her sessions span the religious and philosophical: The Truth about Torah, How to Answer a Fool, and Where is an Authentic Jewish Life Possible?

Anshel Pfeffer

Anshel is a senior writer for Haaretz and the Israel correspondent for The Economist magazine, and an authority on Israeli politics and society. His latest book is Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu. Anshel will speak on the panel, Visions for Israel in 2030, and then get down to the nitty gritty with three individual sessions titled Israeli politics: ask me anything, Israel’s fifth election in four years: Is this Bibi’s return?, and One faith, two peoples.


Shoshana Gottlieb

Shoshana, an Orthodox Jew who has built a large international following for her witty posts on Jewish memes, will speak on two very different topics: All about Chava: The Representation of queer Jewish women in film and television, and Jewish poetry for the Instagram age

Paul Forgasz

Paul Forgasz has built a distinguished career as a Jewish educator, first at Mt Scopus College, then at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation since 2010 and then led study to Europe for the Jewish Museum of Australia. He presents a fascinating session on how the Torah was translated into Greek.

Ella Dreyfus

Ella has built a celebrated career as an artist in Australia over the past 30 years through her body of work in photography, art and film. She will be speaking about Dreyfus Drei: a short film she made about family, identity and the return of three generations of her Jewish family from Australia to Germany.


Is it possible to live an honest life in a dishonest political system? (Adrian Arena)

Jews and tattoos (Viva Hammer and Britney)

Why is Israeli music so great? (Simon Starr)

Yentl the Transgressor: A story ahead of its time (Evelyn Krape, Dann Barber, Gary Abrahams)

Sexual abuse doesn’t happen in nice Jewish families… until it does (Loren Gaddie, Galit Gaddie, moderated by Michelle Meyer)

Shaming online involves a ‘pile-on’: Is it new? Is it Jewish? Is it ok? (Jeremy Stowe-Lindner)

Sephardic, Mizrahi and LGBTQ+: Lifting our stories out of the margins (Ruben Shiminov)


The Jewish Independent

Ittay Flescher, the Jerusalem Correspondent for The Jewish Independent, will present: Unbelievably true stories from Jerusalem, Can Israelis and Palestinians share Jerusalem in peace? When enemies cry together: the challenge of the Israeli-Palestinian joint memorial

Dash Lawrence and Ralph Genende: Living in an upside world: Finding meaning in complex times

Nomi Kaltmann, Rebecca Forgasz, Marlo Newton and Nina Bassett (TBC) What can we do about gender inequality in the Australian Jewish community

Michael Visontay and Oscar Kaspi-Crutchett: “Satanic Jews run the Health Industry: The antisemitic underbelly of Australia’s anti-lockdown groups

Deborah Stone, Liam Getreu, Ittay Flescher, Rana Al-Qalmari: Keeping hope alive - Peacebuilding in Israel and Palestine today

A break for the brain

Concert: NujuMu (8.30pm, Sept 3)

Shari Cohen: Simanim Sides and salads (1pm, Sept 4)

Ernie Gruner: Old Jewish music from Ukraine (6pm, Sept 4)

Deborah Ebsler and Pippa Evers: Living calm – Gentle, Jewish yoga (3pm, Sept 4)



Boston’s Jews are getting a ‘Jewish tavern’ to study religious text — and drink beer (JTA)

Main photo: courtesy East Melbourne synagogue

About the author

Michael Visontay

Michael Visontay is the Commissioning Editor of TJI. He has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 30 years. Michael is the author of several books, including Who Gave You Permission?, co-authored with child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks, and Welcome to Wanderland: Western Sydney Wanderers and the Pride of the West.

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