Limmud AZ’s advance learning event, Taste of Limmud, is about to enter its third year. Taste of Limmud is designed to give the Phoenix area a small preview of the bigger learning event coming in February, Limmud AZ. Both programs offer educational workshops and discussions, with the goal of bringing Jews together for a diverse spectrum of perspectives.
This year’s Taste of Limmud will feature journalist and author Christopher Noxon as its keynote speaker. Noxon will be presenting his recently released book, “Good Trouble: Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook.”
The event will be hosted at Temple Solel on Nov. 13 and begins at 7 p.m.
“Good Trouble” can best be described as a graphic history book that looks at episodes of the civil rights movement and highlights lessons that modern-day activists can learn from. Noxon started writing the book shortly after the results of the 2016 presidential election.
“The freedom struggle had so many parallels to our current situation and so many lessons to today,” Noxon said. “So I dedicated myself to talking to as many people who were still around and learning as much as I could. So I spent a year traveling around Alabama and Mississippi to soak up what worked and how we can employ some of their hard won wisdom.”
While it is technically a historical book, Noxon also wanted it to have personal style and an artistic element. A self-proclaimed “amateur doodler,” Noxon inked and watercolored all of the images in the book to create a personal feel for its readers. The typography aesthetic looks like handwriting; Noxon wanted the readers to feel like they were reading a journal.
“As a reporter, I learned to carry a notebook around wherever I went and I would draw as well as write things down,” Noxon said. “You can communicate so much more with an image and especially with a story like this, which can either feel too much like a student history book or political rhetoric. Having this specific style skirted around those issues.”
Noxon’s talk will begin at 8 p.m. Taste of Limmud also has three local community leaders slated to speak at the event: Arizona Jews for Justice Campaign Organizer Eddie Chavez Calderon, Rabbi Elana Kanter of The New Shul and Rabbi John Linder of Temple Solel.
According to Suzanne Swift, one of the co-founders of Limmud AZ, all of the speakers are passionate about their specific topics.
“Each one of the speakers really brings something to the event that I think our community will get really excited about,” Swift said.
The three local leaders will be talking at the same time, so attendants will have to select whom they wish to see.
Chavez Calderon’s talk is called “Spirituality and Migration.” One of AJJ’s primary actions this past year has been protesting the current presidential administration’s immigration policy. As someone who is both a DACA recipient and in the process of converting to Judaism, Chavez Calderon is excited to share more about the religious and political viewpoints of immigration.
“We look back and we always hear that Jews were once the stranger,” Chavez Calderon said. “They came to Israel from Egypt and were looking to establish their own selves and a sense of guidance. I think as an immigrant I feel personally that this is something you need, and looking back at these texts they really touch on what’s going on today at the border.”
Kanter’s presentation is titled “Bad Girls of the Talmud” and is focused on women who defied gender roles. She will be teaching about two women in the Talmud that did something unexpected and challenged conventional structure.
“What we are going to learn from these women is that people who you don’t expect to be your teacher can become your teacher,” Kanter said. “It’s a lesson that we should understand for today. You think it’s going to be the expert on something, but it could be the cashier at Safeway.” Kanter is also one of the co-founders of Limmud AZ.
The third lecture, “Expanding our Sacred Canon,” from Linder is about strengthening Jewish identity by expanding what is considered sacred canon.
“Torah, the Talmud are considered canon for example, and often canon gets closed and it becomes the sacred texts, Linder said. “This session will be to both acknowledge that and push the envelope to open up the canon so we can include new literature from other generations and specifically this generation.”
Linder said that there is a lot of interesting creative writing in this generation that should have as much of an impact as past texts. He added that there should be no limitations on what is considered to be canon and he wants other voices from this generation to be brought to the forefront.
For Swift, this preview event gives Jews of all observance levels — and non-Jews for that matter — a great opportunity to hopefully learn something new.
“That’s what Limmud is all about really,” Swift said. “We’re here for everyone who wants to learn and the best part about having the upcoming taste means that we’re able to do more outreach and aren’t regulated to a once a year thing.” JN
To learn more about Taste of Limmud, visit limmudaz.org.