LimmudFest Saturday Night featuring Distant Cousins

After a beautiful shabbat spent worshiping, learning and celebrating Jewish culture, LimmudFest’s special Saturday Night programming moves to the newly expanded Uptown JCC. This year, after a musical Havdalah, we will open the doors to the entire community for a live performance from Distant Cousins.



Distant Cousins is Duvid Swirsky, Dov Rosenblatt and Ami Kozak, Los Angeles-based songwriters and producers who have been lighting up live audiences nationwide with their energized performances. In addition to releasing two critically acclaimed albums, their music has been featured in films (This Is Where I Leave You), commercials (Macy’s), and television shows (The Voice, American Idol and Reign). Their spirited chemistry and down-to-earth musical sensibilities should make for an enjoyable evening.

Or Choose An Award Winning Documentary

In true Limmud fashion, Saturday evening will be about choice as well. Concurrent to the live concert, we will be screening Shalom, Y’all, Brian Bain’s award-winning 2002 documentary on the unique and diverse life of Southern Jews. Bain covers 4,200 miles from small Mississippi Delta towns to sprawling Texas ranchlands, and uncovers a vibrant regional culture and hundreds of years of colorful history.


But That’s Not All

Then, stick around for The Rebbetzin Disco, a multimedia dance party experience like no other. A soundtrack of heart & soul, blues, funk, hip-hop, R&B, rock, indie disco, reggae and euro-pop is coupled with immersive visuals that will stir up your body and your soul, sending you to seventh heaven!

This community event begins at 8:30PM on Saturday, March 17 and is free and open to the public. Please encourage your friends, even if they are not yet Limmudnicks, to join us for an amazing evening at the Uptown JCC. Light refreshments will be provided.

LimmudFest Brings Topics of Interest to Young Jews

Dating, Jewish identity, interracial and community interactions, Jewish involvement in the labor movement — these and many other topics will be of particular interest to young Jews when LimmudFest returns to New Orleans March 16-18. There even will be a performance by a folk/pop trio from Los Angeles.

The band Distant Cousins, consisting of Duvid Swirsky, Dov Rosenblatt and Ami Kozak, has been lighting up audiences nationwide with their energized performances and winning over screen audiences with their music featured in films (This Is Where I Leave You), commercials (Macy’s), trailers (Daddy’s Home), and television shows (The Voice, American Idol, Reign, etc). With multiple singles and two acclaimed EPs to date, Distant Cousins is now partnering with Jullian Records to release their debut full-length album this spring.

Sophie Unterman will address “In Search of the Male Shiksa: One Millennial Jew’s Tale of Interfaith and Interracial Dating.” Unterman’s essays have appeared in The Forward, The Iowa Review, and Guernica. She is the recipient of a 2016 Rockower Award for Best Personal Essay (2nd Place) from the American Jewish Press Association, for her essay, “In Search of the Male Shiksa.” A Tulane University alumna, she holds an MFA from Columbia University and has taught writing at Columbia, Lehman College, and the University of New Orleans. Along with writing and instructing at the university level, Unterman teaches English in the New Orleans public school system.

Dana Keren will present a session on “From ‘Jew vs. Jew’ to ‘Me and You’: Working Toward Pluralism.” The senior administrator for Tulane University School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is a proud alumna of Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps. Prior to joining Tulane, Dana co-founded Birthmark Doula Collective, a reproductive justice cooperative that provides pregnancy and parenting support services to New Orleans families. Dana graduated with an M.B.A from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business and is a board member of the National Council of Jewish Women Greater New Orleans Section.

Alysse Fuchs will discuss “The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory through Today: Jews and the Labor Movement.” Fuchs moved to New Orleans to participate in Avodah’s Jewish Service Corps as a corps member in 2013–2014. After working as a religious school teacher, waitress and babysitter, Fuchs returned to Avodah in 2016 and she is currently the Program Director for Avodah New Orleans. She feels fortunate to engage in a vibrant Jewish community with those who similarly prioritize social justice and believes that New Orleans is one of the best cities in the world.

LimmudFest is a weekend festival of Big Tent Jewish arts, culture, spirituality and learning locally planned and run by a community of volunteers. LimmudFest 2018 will feature over 100 presentations across 10 learning tracks, plus a lineup of quality programming for children and teens of all ages.

This year, LimmudFest’s celebration of learning, community and culture includes a Shabbaton at Congregation Gates of Prayer on Friday and Saturday, and more learning and cultural programs at the newly expanded Uptown Jewish Community Center on Saturday night and Sunday. Register now!

Expect The Unexpected at Limmud

When LimmudFest returns to New Orleans March 16–18, attendees can expect the unexpected. LimmudFest 2018 will feature over 100 presentations across 10 learning tracks, with speakers ranging from a burlesque performer to a Beatles expert to a culinary queen. Local personalities Trixie Minx, Bruce Spizer and Poppy Tooker will entertain as well as inform.

Trixie Minx will present “Under the Big Top: Jews in the Circus, Burlesque, and the Variety Arts.” At the forefront of the New Orleans Burlesque Revival, Minx is a leader in the preservation and innovation of the art of tease. As a performer she is best known for incorporating comedy into her classic style of dance. She is also recognized as a premiere burlesque producer with four New Orleans–based shows (Fleur de Tease, Burgundy Burlesque, Burlesque Ballroom, Bourbon Boylesque) and she has lectured on the history of burlesque at Tulane University and the Louisiana State Museum. In addition to her contributions to the art and culture of New Orleans, Minx also proudly works with the New Orleans Musicians Clinic as an advocate for affordable performer healthcare.

Bruce Spizer will give a multi-media presentation, “The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper (and the Group’s Little Known Jewish Connections)”. Spizer is considered one of the world’s leading experts on the Beatles. Spizer has written nine critically acclaimed books on the Beatles, including his latest, The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper: A Fan’s Perspective. He has appeared on numerous local, national and international television and radio programs as a Beatles expert and serves as a consultant to Capitol Records and Apple Corps, Ltd., on Beatles projects. Spizer has been a guest speaker at numerous Beatles conventions in the U.S. and U.K., and at the Grammy Museum and the Rock ’N’ Roll Hall of Fame & Museum.

Poppy Tooker, who calls herself a cultural ambassador and culinary activist, will speak on “Keeping Kosher in a Creole and Cajun World.” Tooker is a native New Orleanian who has spent her life immersed in the vibrant colors and flavors of her state.  Host of the weekly, NPR-affiliated radio show, Louisiana Eats!Tooker also provides weekly restaurant commentary on the PBS show, Steppin’ Out, seen on WYES-TV. She is the author of four cookbooks, including Tujague’s Restaurant Cookbook – Creole Recipes and Lore in the Grand New Orleans Tradition, which came out in 2015. Her new book, The Pascal’s Manale Cookbook, will be published in the fall of 2018.

These presenters and many more are included in one admission price at LimmudFest, a weekend festival of Big Tent Jewish arts, culture, spirituality and learning that is locally planned and run by a community of volunteers. With a lineup of quality children’s programming, parents can learn for themselves and be confident that their children will also experience the magic of LimmudFest. 

This year, LimmudFest’s celebration of learning, community, and culture includes a Shabbaton at Congregation Gates of Prayer on Friday and Saturday, and more learning and cultural programs at the newly expanded Uptown Jewish Community Center on Saturday night and Sunday. Register now!

Teen Limmud at LimmudFest 2018

This year’s weekend festival of Big Tent Jewish culture, art, spirituality and learning includes a few special Teen Limmud sessions given for teens, by teens:

You Jew You – We all share the trait of being Jewish, yet we may all see it differently and may practice and define our Judaism differently. Rachel Laufer will lead a discussion based on the idea that there is no wrong or right definition of Judaism, and no matter how you were raised or currently practice your religion, it is yours and you are Jewish.

A Taste of Teamwork – In this interactive session, Ethan Katz and Joanna Moody will direct a practice of teamwork, patience and creativity, in the hope that participants will walk away with an appreciation of what is possible when team members work together.

About the Teen Limmud Presenters


Ethan Katz is a 10th-grader at Metairie Park Country Day School. He holds the honorable position of S’gan (Programming Vice President in BBYO). When Ethan is not attending BBYO programs, he enjoys running cross country; he is presently the district champion. Ethan is also a member of the National Honor Society.

Rachel Laufer is a junior at Lusher Charter School, where she is in the Certificate of Artistry Program for Musical Theatre. She is a Lusher cheerleader and has served on many student government positions such as freshmen and sophomore class president. Rachel has been an active member in BBYO since eigth grade, following in her father and brother’s footsteps. She has served as the Schlicha (Jewish Coordinator) for two terms, the S’ganit (Programming Vice-President) for two terms, and one term as the Aym Ha Chaverot (Recruitment Vice-President. Rachel is currently serving as the N’siah, the Chapter President, for her second term.

Joanna Moody is a tenth grader at Metairie Park Country Day School. She was a competitive gymnast for nine years and is now a pole vaulter. She has been a part of BBYO for two years, where she has held a board position as secretary for two terms and currently holds the position of Vice President and Programming Chair.

Of course, Teens are also welcome to attend any of LimmudFest’s 100+ sessions on social justice, art, music, contemporary Jewish issues, and everything Jewish.

The Full 2018 Lineup is Now Available!

The full list of presenters for LimmudFest 2018 is out now,  and it includes authors, philosophers, chefs, musicians, artists, historians, deep thinkers and burlesque dancers.

Trixie Minx, Bruce Spizer, Larry Powell, Ron Marks, Poppy Tooker, Meredith Polsky, Michael Cook, Danya Ruttenberg, Rafi Zarum, Simone Levine, Sophie Untermann, Dana Keren, Alysse Fuchs and many other local, regional and national presenters will be discussing diverse topics such as:

Cool Jews • #MeToo: A Jewish Response • Praying and Paying: The Marginal Cost of Being Jewish • Keeping Kosher in a Cajun and Creole World • Experiences of a Jewish FBI Agent • In Search of The Male Shiksa • Parenting as a Spiritual Practice • Are Jews White? • Krauss: The New Orleans Value Store • Exploring Community Development Through Tikkun Olam • Judaism and Vegetarianism • Explaining Southern Evangelical Theory • Jews and Judaism in the Circus and Burlesque • What Can “Transparent” Teach Us About Jewish Life, Sexuality and Israel • Once Upon Our Stories: A 21st-Century Jewish Sexual Ethic • The Spirituality of Changing Your Mind.. AND MORE. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST OF SESSIONS!


Registration is officially open, and it’s not too late to take advantage of our early bird prices. Between now and February 15, all ticket prices are reduced. Don’t delay, take advantage of great early bird prices by registering today!

This year, LimmudFest’s celebration of arts, culture, community and learning includes a Shabbaton at Congregation Gates of Prayer on Friday and Saturday, with more learning and cultural programs at the newly expanded Uptown JCC on Saturday night and Sunday. Register Now!

Southern Hospitality, Limmud-Style!

LimmudFest’s welcoming atmosphere extends past the doors of Gates of Prayer and Tulane by offering home hospitality for all who want it. We strive to receive all of our participants with particularly warm, sweet, and welcoming goodwill for the entire weekend. New Orleans Hospitality is renowned, and we have put together multiple options for out-of-town guests of LimmudFest 2016.

If you are Shomer Shabbat and want to be placed in a host house near our Shabbat venue, Congregation Gates of Prayer, we have hosts ready to welcome you. Even if you are not Shomer but would prefer to stay with a local family to save money or just to meet some new friends, Home hospitality is a excellent and convenient way to do both. And for you local New Orleanians, we have heard time and again from past attendees: one of the most satisfying ways you can participate in LimmudFest is to offer home hospitality.

If you prefer a hotel, we have reserved a block of rooms at the Marriott in Metairie, a 1.5 mile walk from Gates of Prayer, our Shabbat venue. No matter what accommodations you choose, we can’t wait for you to experience what Limmud New Orleans has to offer!

LimmudFest New Orleans is a weekend festival of Big Tent Jewish learning, arts, culture and spirituality — all planned by volunteers. It is part of a global movement inspired by the idea that when Jews from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate and learn about everything Jewish, the entire community is enriched. For more information, please visit the Hospitality page.

It’s All About Choice

LimmudFest offers programming for people of all ages and levels of experience with Jewish learning, whether you are a native New Orleanian, a newcomer, or from outside the area. Wherever you are on your Jewish journey, LimmudFest can take you one step further.

LimmudFest is all about choice. There will be multiple sessions (at some times as many as nine) going on simultaneously. You do not sign up for sessions ahead of time, but just decide what to attend based on your interests and feedback from fellow Limmudniks. LimmudFest is a time to explore, so we encourage you to go outside your comfort zone and sample a bit of everything.

The connection between genes and identity, chronicles of interfaith dating, vegetarianism, veganism and animal rights in the context of Jewish biblical history, reclaiming Zionism as a progressive cause, the Jewish roots of flamenco, the similarities between Qu’ran and Torah, the Beatle’s Jewish backstory… these are just a few of the diverse topics that will be covered at New Orleans LimmudFest 2018.

This year, LimmudFest’s celebration of learning, community, and culture includes a Shabbaton at Congregation Gates of Prayer on Friday and Saturday, and more learning and cultural programs at the newly expanded Uptown JCC on Saturday night and Sunday. Registration is now open!

What Does “Big Tent” Mean?

This year, we are billing LimmudFest as “a weekend festival of Big Tent Jewish learning, arts, culture and spirituality”. As we’ve brought this message around the New Orleans community as well as to congregations across the Gulf South, it has been greeted with excitement and enthusiasm. But some have asked “What does “Big Tent’ mean?” It’s a great question, and one we enjoy answering.

The term “Big Tent” has its origins in politics, as it is formally defined as a party’s strategy to “encourage a range of beliefs, opinions and views among its members”. But the idea itself is much larger than that, and perfectly aligns with many of Limmud’s values and principles such as diversity, respect, religious observance, and enabling connections.

The modern practice of Judiasm is commonly divided into reform, conservative and orthodox traditions, but the formal and informal divisions of the faith do not stop there. This has created a wonderful array of vibrant communities across the country and the world, each with their own ideas, customs and practices. By being aware and considerate of all levels of religious observance, and respectfully celebrating both those things we have in common as well as those which make us unique, LimmudFest New Orleans seeks to offer a weekend of engaging programming that is, above all things, inclusive.

Great care is being taken to create a collective and communal event that is accessible and enriching for all participants no matter how they do (or do not) identify. We offer choice in the form, content and style of the learning sessions offered and believe in the power of a diverse community to create rich cross-cultural and cross-generational experiences.

We strive to open the doors to LimmudFest as wide as possible, help us make this year’s LimmudFest Tent as big as ever.. Register today!

Featured Presenters Announced!

In the first of what are sure to be a string of exciting updates, we are proud to officially announce our first three featured presenters for LimmudFest 2018: Rabbi Dayna Ruttenberg and Joel Dinerstein.

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is a lecturer and author who has been named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of ten “rabbis to watch,” and one of the top 50 most influential women rabbis. Her most recent book, Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting (Flatiron Books), was a finalist for the 2016 National Jewish Book Award.  She is Rabbi-in-Residence at Avodah and a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and has been featured on Upworthy.

Joel Dinerstein is the author of four books on race, cool, music, and American culture, including The Origins of Cool in Postwar America (2017), Coach: A Study of NY Cool (Rizzoli 2016), and a cultural history of big-band jazz, Swinging the Machine: Modernity, Technology, and African-American Culture (2003). He was the curator of American Cool (2014), an acclaimed exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, and the author of its exhibit catalogue. He has served as a consultant for jazz and popular music for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities), and Putumayo Records. He is Professor of English and American Studies at Tulane University.

A Family Experience

Wherever you find yourself – and whatever age you are – Limmud will take you one step further on your Jewish journey. With this in mind, we are putting together an excellent line-up of quality children’s programming so there is something for the entire family. Parents can go learn in their own sessions, confident that their children will also be experiencing the magic of Limmud.

Multi-denominational Shabbat services will be held for children on Shabbat morning, and babysitting will be available throughout the weekend. A full roster of fun and educational activities designed specifically with young children in mind will allow attendees of all ages to learn and grow along with the adults. The entire weekend of learning and teaching is designed with the entire family in mind.

LimmudFest New Orleans is a celebration of Jewish culture, thought, the arts, learning, and teaching, and so much more — all planned by volunteers. It is part of a global movement inspired by the idea that when Jews from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate and learn about everything Jewish, the entire community is enriched.