By David Hoffman

Next Wednesday, Limmud, the international network of Jewish learning communities, will receive the Jerusalem Unity Prize in the global category. It is a great privilege to be recognised for our positive impact in the diaspora and Israel.

Jewish unity is not an easy idea. We Jews are not very good at it — you only need to look back through this paper’s news pages to see that. Nor by Jewish unity do we mean uniformity. There are endless variations of Jewish self-expression, culture and experience.

One of Limmud’s most cherished values is diversity. As an activity, any Limmud event is marked by variety — political, cultural, religious — both in those who teach and those who come to learn. So how can Limmud promote Jewish unity?

The answer is that Limmud exemplifies unity through community. Any Limmud event is one community of learning. One of its strengths — one of the great joys of attending a Limmud — is the range of viewpoints on offer. Our starting point is Jewish learning in its broadest sense. Everyone should be a student and anyone can be a teacher. Some of the best Limmud sessions are those which involve disagreement — a lively, but, we hope, respectful, dialogue between panellists or between presenter and participants. Limmud presenters come to challenge and be challenged. We argue together so we can learn together: Judaism as a conversation rather than a conclusion.

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