Danish, Swedish Jews hold first joint Limmud conference

(JTA) — About 160 Swedes and Danes have attended the first inter-Scandinavian Limmud Jewish learning event.

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The March 11 Jewish-identity confab was held at an adult education center in Lund, a Swedish city situated a 23 miles north of Copenhagen. Lund and Malmo in southern Sweden are connected to the Danish capital by the Oresund Bridge, which was built in 2000. 

“Last year we held the first Lund Limmud and this is the first time that the event has gone international,” the event’s co-organizer, Rabbi Rebecca Lillian, said, referring to the concept which started out in the U.K. some 30 years ago and has since grown to Jewish communities in 26 countries through the Limmud International nonprofit organization.

“Many Swedes can understand Danish and visa versa, but to completely eliminate the language barrier each time bloc included at least one session in Danish or English,” said Lillian, an American Reconstructionist rabbi who immigrated to Malmo from Chicago two years ago.

The event was promoted on social media in Swedish, Danish and English — the languages of the Oresunds Limmud trilingual website. The 2014 Oresunds Limmud will be held at a bigger venue, Lillian said.

She added the majority of participants were Swedish but a few dozen Danes also came, including former Danish chief rabbi Bent Melchior. In his address, he encouraged Jewish communities to embrace families with only one Jewish spouse.

Helen Liesl Krag, an Austria-born lecturer from the University of Copenhagen, spoke about a book she recently published based on interviews with classmates from her Vienna elementary school, where children of Communist and Nazi families all studied together shortly after World War II.

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