By Rabbi Phil Warmflash, Executive Director

On January 26th, Jewish Learning Venture will formally launch year seven of One Book, One Jewish Community (OBOJC) with an Author Event and Book Signing featuring Michael Lavigne, author of this year’s featured selection, The Wanting.  Arriving at this year seven milestone is quite an accomplishment and a tribute to the dedication and tenacity of a group of volunteers, many members of which have been working on OBOJC since its inception.  According to a survey conducted by Federation several years ago, after Federation’s Super Sunday, OBOJC was the most well-known Jewish community program in Greater Philadelphia.  OBOJC was inspired by a conversation at a Federation meeting wherein the then-chair of the Committee on Jewish Life and Learning, Matthew Kamens, suggested that a community-wide read could not only bring Jews together, but could also create meaningful conversation and learning across our community.  He was right.

Why does OBOJC work?  Because we can each read on our own, each find our own meaning in a book, and then come together to share insights and to learn together.  OBOJC gives us a common base on which to start.

It is for this same reason that every Jewish Learning Venture workshop, every committee and board meeting, every conference begins with a Limmud.  Limmud (from the Hebrew root LMD) is a teaching, but it is more than that, it is a text sharing.  At each gathering, we share a short Limmud that includes one or two guiding questions.  Participants take a few minutes to learn the text with a partner and discuss their insights with the group.  Each Limmud is chosen in hopes that it will open a conversation that will serve as a lens through which to view the topic of the workshop or the meeting.  The beauty of the Limmud is that everyone in the room is both a learner and a teacher.  Everyone has the power to find meaning and to share meaning.  A Limmud, like an OBOJC selection, is a common text that can serve as a foundation for each of us to find meaning, to learn from one another and to build our community.  This, I think, is the real reason why the Jewish people are often called the People of the Book.

Join the conversation: What text do you find meaningful? Why?