(JTA) — Some 700 Venezuelan Jews participated in the first Limmud Jewish learning and culture event in Caracas, over 10 percent of the country’s Jewish population.

The Limmud program on Sunday included tracks for children and teens.

“It was thrilling to see grandparents, grandchildren, young adults, students, Sephardim, Ashkenazim, secular, religious, people from every part of the community streaming in,” Anabella de Jaroslavsky, a member of the Limmud Caracas steering group,  said in a statement.

Some 5,000 to 6,000 Jews live in Venezuela in a total population of 29 million. An estimated 20,000 Jews lived in the Latin American country in 1999, but many have immigrated to Israel, Miami and Spain because of ongoing political, economic and personal security challenges.

The daylong Limmud program included more than 30 sessions on topics as diverse as Israel, charitable giving, Israeli film, cooking, art and Yiddish. A top Venezuelan comedian, Laureano Marquez, wrapped up the festival.

The steering committee of 25 planned the event along with 80 volunteers. The Limmud was sponsored by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Moral y Luces Herzl Bialik School and Hebraica Caracas.

“We heard about Limmud Buenos Aires, Peru, Miami and we wanted to bring it here,” said Anita Katz, a Limmud Caracas spokeswoman in English. “Limmud adds new light and hope to our community. Today was marked by happiness and a different way for each participant to experience belonging to a people. It has been deeply meaningful.”

Limmud, which was founded in the United Kingdom in 1980, now has more than 80 communities participating in over 40 countries. The first Limmud held in Latin America was a decade ago in Buenos Aires.







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