The Limmud Impact Study looks at how successful Limmud has been in taking people ‘one step further on their Jewish journeys’, what these journeys consist of and their wider impact on Jewish communities. The study focuses on Limmud volunteers and draws on a survey of ten Limmud volunteer communities in eight countries - UK, USA, South Africa, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Israel and Argentina - together with focus groups conducted with Limmud volunteers from around the world.
The findings provide clear evidence that Limmud advances the majority of its volunteers on their Jewish journeys, and for a significant proportion it takes them ‘further’ towards greater interest in and commitment to Jewish life.
Limmud’s principle impact on its volunteers lies in making new friends and contacts, encountering different kinds of Jews and enhancing a sense of connection to the Jewish people. For many Limmud volunteers, their experience has increased their Jewish knowledge, their leadership skills and their involvement in the wider Jewish community. Involvement in Limmud therefore enhances both the desire to take further steps on their Jewish journeys, and the tools for doing so.
Limmud impacts equally on Jews regardless of denomination and religious practice. The younger the volunteers and the less committed they are when they begin their Limmud journeys, the further Limmud takes them. Those with more senior levels of involvement in Limmud report higher levels of impact on their Jewish journeys than other volunteers, as do those who had received a subsidy or training from Limmud.
Limmud volunteers often have difficult experiences and risk burnout and exhaustion. While volunteers generally view the gains as worth the cost, Limmud needs to pay attention to this issue and provide further support.
Limmud is a pioneer of cross-communal inter-generational Jewish learning, organised and run almost entirely by volunteers. The first Limmud Conference was held in the UK in 1980 with 75 participants; the UK Conference (now known as Limmud Festival) now attracts over 2,500 people. The model has inspired the creation of Limmud groups across the world, to create their own Limmud communities unified by a common set of values. It is estimated that over 40,000 people participate in Limmud annually. Since 2006, Limmud has supported, developed and connected these volunteer-led communities. It does this by providing them with learning opportunities, training, mentoring, micro grants and support for the sharing of ideas and best practices.