By ALAN SMASON
In an historic gathering of six separate Reform, Conservative and Orthodox congregations under one roof, Limmudfest New Orleans kicked off its first full days of activities in a Shabbat-observant fashion at Temple Sinai on Friday evening and continued through Saturday night.
Three separate worship tracks were maintained throughout Shabbat with a unified Reform worship service in the main sanctuary at Temple Sinai at which Touro Synagogue Rabbi Alexis Berk and Gates of Prayer Rabbi Robert Loewy joined Rabbi Ed Paul Cohn on the bimah. Rabbi Ethan Linden conducted a Conservative service in the Temple Sinai chapel, while a smaller group of Orthodox worshippers prayed in the Youth Lounge led by incoming Beth Israel Rabbi Gabriel Greenberg.
Strictly kosher meals prepared by Andy Adelman were served under the supervision of Rabbi David Polsky of Congregation Anshe Sfard through his association with the Louisiana Kashrut Committee.
Following Friday night dinner, a short program titled a “Shabbat Tisch” was held and Clive Lawton, one of the founders of the Limmud movement from London, remarked that the word “tisch” means table and was derived from very observant gatherings centered around a table. “This is the first tisch without a table,” he remarked to the crowd gathered in the Temple Sinai Chapel.
Following morning worship service on Saturday, a Kiddush luncheon was served in the main auditiorium. Following lunch two sessions were held on a variety of topics within the nine separate learning tracks the Limmudfest New Orleans committee organized.
A Seudah Shlishit (light supper) was held at 6:00 p.m. prior to a joint Havdalah service in the main sanctuary.
Evening performances were by violinist and violist Ruth Navarre, who played several klezmer tunes, and by storyteller Noa Baum, who presented her work “A Land Twice Promised” in which she related her friendship with an Arab Palestinian in Davis, CA. Both she and her friend were born in Jerusalem with different perspectives on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
At the same time that Noa’s work was being presented, a film “God in a Box” was being shown in the main auditorium
Today’s activities take place at the Lavin-Bernick Center (University Center) at Tulane University.