Call it a conference, call it a festival, call it a gathering of Jews from all walks of life, all Jewish backgrounds, all lifestyles, and all ages–Limmud created 48 hours of phenomenal Jewish learning, bringing together Connected Wisdom and some of the world’s most innovative Jewish learning organizations.
Connected Wisdom presenters from San Francisco seamlessly integrated the method of Connected Wisdom with the Bay Area Limmud Experience held at Sonoma State University in Santa Rosa, California beginning Friday afternoon June 26th and lasting through Sunday, June 28th.
Connected Wisdom’s session billed as, Connected Wisdom: The Practical Tool That Lies Dormant in Our Spiritual DNA (And How Modern Science Agrees!), stood among 100 Limmud sessions on topics ranging from ancient texts to Jewish gangsters, from mysticism to social justice, from Israeli politics to Jewish meditation and yoga, from BDS to the environment.
The result was a vibrant atmosphere where everyone felt like both teacher and learner. Alex Eisen, from Connected Wisdom of San Francisco, described their experience as “volunticipators” in the celebration, “We really felt like social scientists doing field research!”
San Fransisco Connected Wisdom presenters–Kerri Berkowitz, Marina Eisen, and Alex Eisen–participated in an array of Limmud sessions and networked with the diverse Bay Area Jewish community. They invited many Limmud participants to their planned Connected Wisdom session with introductory flyers. A description of what could be expected at Connected Wisdom’s session was also printed in the Limmud Schedule guide and on the Limmud event website. It promised:
“In this unique workshop we experience and teach an ancient, yet practical, method that intentionally creates a space that lifts barriers between people, and opens the possibility for connection, collaboration, problem solving and mutual understanding. This method allows us to tap into the wondrous connected wisdom that exists as the foundation of the Jewish people and can be applied regularly in one’s daily life.”
Despite being the last afternoon session at the end of the three-day weekend, about a dozen people entered the Connected Wisdom classroom. (Almost two-thirds of the conference-goers had already left for home to beat the weekend traffic.) Connected Wisdom presenters describe their session participants as, “highly intellectual, knowledgeable, and accomplished, with an entire weekend of Limmud sessions behind them to digest.”
The Connected Wisdom session started with an introduction to scientific studies about the importance of human connection and the value of positive social relationships. Special focus was given the the question, “What do we mean by connection?” Quotes from a variety of sources wove together the legacy of Abraham, collective intelligence, and positive psychology, relating all the information to the Connected Wisdom Circle.
Trainers then guided participants through the unique experience of the Connected Wisdom Circle. The special Rules of the Workshop followed during the circle workshop experience allowed participants to open up their hearts and share feelings with one another. Exploration of their Limmud conference experience in the context of the Connected Wisdom Circle led to deep questions about the distiction between diversity and pluralism, as well as to detailed questions about the Circle method and process. One participant and Limmud conference organizer described his experience in these words:
“ At the risk of not doing due justice to Connected Wisdom, my understanding is that the methodology allows participants to enhance their experience and to connect closer to one another. They ask thought provoking and entertaining questions in a safe environment of a “circle” where each member gets to share his or her opinion. I felt a close bond building between people to a point where one person felt really comfortable to share a constructive harsh criticism, which is somewhat rare in the traditional American group.”
Although time constraints prevented participants from having a complete Connected Wisdom Circle experience, participants were eager to stay and chat after the session, feeling like they had just scratched the surface. The vision and value of the Connected Wisdom method was appreciated, however, evidenced by a participant’s question to the presenters, “Just how big do you want this (Connected Wisdom Circle method) to get?”
Connected Wisdom session participants walked away with a small sweet taste of the Circle experience and a card with the unique Rules of the Workshop. Connected Wisdom presenters left with an invitation to work with Limmud FSU, which will be held in Pasadena, California on January 29-31st, 2016 and a plethora of cards and contacts with organization with whom to explore future partnerships.