More than 1,300 attend Federation’s Yom Limmud

March 5, 2020 — More than 1,300 people representing every age and segment of the Jewish community came together on Feb. 16 for the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston’s 26th Annual Yom Limmud at Congregation Beth Israel, chaired by Steve & Sandra Finkelman. Yom Limmud is generously endowed by the Barish Family and The Chair King.

“This year’s Yom Limmud was a tremendous success. The hallways and classrooms were filled with excitement for Jewish learning and the incredible synergy created by people of all ages joining for a shared experience. It would have made my mother, Shirley Barish, very proud,” said David Barish.

This Jewish Day of Learning featured more than 89 presenters who taught more than 90 classes on topics ranging from mental health to Israel to parenting and everything in between. Presenters included rabbis, cantors, Jewish educators, college professors, cultural arts specialists. Some popular presenters like Middle East expert Neil Lazarus drew more than 75 people to each of his classes.

“Yom Limmud is a highlight of the year for our entire community that offers us all an opportunity to engage with each other and learn together in interesting and challenging sessions that make us think differently about the Jewish world,” said Sandra Finkelman.

For the first time, attendees were able to use an app during the event to search the program of classes, learn about vendors who were set up in the community space, and communicate with others who were part of the day.

During the Shabbat immediately preceding Yom Limmud, four Houston area congregations participated in the Barish Shabbat Limmud Scholars Program made possible by the Barish Family and The Chair King. These congregations each hosted a scholar-in-residence who also presented at least one session at Yom Limmud a program.

Young Israel of Houston hosted Rabbi Moshe Hauer of Congregation Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion in Baltimore; Congregation Brith Shalom hosted Jonathan Schofer, Associate Professor of Classical and Medieval Rabbinic Judaism at UT Austin; Congregation Beth Israel hosted Rabbi Ofek Meir, headmaster and managing director off the Leo Baeck Education Center; and Congregation Beth Yeshurun hosted Rabbi Elie Spitz, author of several books for Jewish Lights Publishing. Congregation Shma Koleinu also hosted Federation Shabbat Limmud Scholar Dr. Marc Dollinger, Jewish studies professor at San Francisco State University.

Yom Limmud itself featured Shirley Barish Education Enrichment Scholar Michael Fritzen who is the program manager for PJ Library in Los Angeles and West Coast Regional Rep. for the Education Committee for the American Alliance of Museums.

Young Limmud offered children in grades PreK – 3rd a special half- or full-day program of activities, and babysitting was available for ages 15 months – 3 years so parents could participate in classes.

PJ Library hosted a family experience, Bubbe’s House, an interactive show for ages 3-8 where the tradition of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood combines with the wacky style of Peewee’s Playhouse.

A blood drive for the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center gave participants an opportunity to give back in a meaningful way.

Attendees were able to gather for lunch and visit vendors and exhibitors in the social hall. Lunch this year featured a collaboration between Lakies Café at the J and Ziggy Gruber. There were 21 exhibitors representing many of Houston’s Jewish organizations, and 19 vendors selling Judaic art and jewelry.

Yom Limmud 2021 will take place on February 14, 2021, at Congregation Emanu El. For more information about Yom Limmud or to join the planning committee, contact Marna Meyer at 713-729-7000 or