Preparing for Limmud at Home

Limmud is coming to you this year. But for those missing a traditional wintertime Limmud experience, here are some top tips:

The site

  • Designate your rooms as ‘Red 1’, ‘Yellow 5’ etc, and lay down coloured footprints to remind you how to access them.
    • Bonus points if you attend the most popular sessions from your smallest rooms.
  • Arrange for your neighbours to host loud lectures that can be heard through the walls on both sides of your lounge.
  • Replace your toilet with 30 urinals.
  • Prepare a special T-shirt to wear when serving yourself copious drinks later in the evening.

The food

  • Only eat meat once over the course of Limmud, but eat three lunches per day.
  • Make sure that you are missing precisely one of (i) tea, (ii) hot water, (iii) sugar and (iv) milk at all times.
  • Leave out a tray of biscuit crumbs to disappoint you when you’re hungry between sessions.
  • If your spouse or partner is ahead of you in the queue at mealtimes, try to find some excuse to barge in front.
  • Set up a tent for grab-and-go.
  • Be incredibly rude to the coffee shop volunteers baristas at your local café, especially if they’re young women.
  • Leftovers from dinner should be mildly disguised and then served again at breakfast.
  • That amazingly thick, pale pink salad dressing you only ever get at Limmud is very hard to buy in supermarkets, but calamine lotion is widely available from pharmacies.
  • Sanitise your bloody hands. It’s as if 2020 never happened to you. You disgust me.


  • Have your spouse or partner take the end of the sofa and refuse to stand up to let you past.
  • At a normal Limmud, everyone loves to yell out, “We can’t hear!” whenever anyone asks a question at less than 450 decibels. This year, that cry will be replaced with, “You’re on mute!” If anyone starts speaking while on mute, even for just a second, it is mandatory for all other participants to point this out at considerable length.
  • When the speaker invites you to put questions in the chat, that is your opportunity to message hi to David from Carshalton (in full view of everyone else), to type out an impassioned op-ed about how much you hate Yachad, or to ask if anyone knows what time Clive Lawton is on.

Enjoy Limmud 2020, stay safe, and come to hear the wonderful Adam Wagner and myself talking about lockdown laws on Sunday.

Magen Covid: the Channukah special 2020

I have a little vaccine: I made it out of virus.
And now at last an end’s in sight, it’s really most desirous.

What a year. Is 2020 about to finish with the nes gadol of a coronavirus jab, or is that all just a sham? (A lot of spin has certainly been involved.)

In the blog this year:

  • Judean supermarket launches controversial advert featuring Greek family
  • Some Talmud study on the rules for a non-lockdown Christmas
  • Pass the port to the left avoid 9-hour delays after we crash out of Europe
  • Oppressors thrown out of the Temple Labour Party
  • How to play dreidel this year
  • Cut-out-and-keep FAQ on Christmas gathering exemptions
  • Erm…
  • That’s it.

Warning: this post is going to contain a large number of highly predictable jokes combing the themes of ‘virus’ and ‘Channukah’. If you don’t think you’re going to be able to handle this, other websites are available.

But first, of course, we stick rigidly to tradition. You all need to buy, for your significant other, a Channukah present-but-not-involved. So please find below this year’s topical catalogue of Gabriel’s Festive Innovations!


Advert controversy reaches fever pitch

A scene from the impugned advert

Maccabees reacted furiously to the latest advert from the market stall סאינסבוריס (Σαινσβθρυσ), which depicted a Greek family doing things that suggested they’re normal human beings, ie ingesting food, communicating with each other and resting.

A series of angry messages were etched into the wall of the basilica last week, including:

“That’s the last time I buy from this stall.”

“Allowing Greek people to appear in the public sphere is a racist attack on all Judeans.”

“This sort of thing just fuels division, it would have been much better if the advertisment stuck to showing proper people.”

“Judea is only 20% Greek so how can it possibly make sense for Greeks to have been used for this? Do these traders seriously think I’m going to be persuaded to buy things just because I see Greek people using them? I mean, what do I want with taramosalata, spanakopita and democracy?”

A spokesperson for the market stall said, “We are firmly committed to showing the full diversity of modern life. Previous years’ adverts have featured the Maccabean People’s Front, the People’s…” (Yes, we get it thanks. -Ed.)

Tanu Rabbanan


Oil supplies delayed

The Jews sent off for some oil and thought it would take only eight days (plus three days waiting for the redelivery when it came while they were out, four days holding on the Yodel helpline and five days trying to find it in the ten-sizes-too-large cardboard box in which it was delivered).

But it looks like that might be an ambitious timescale once we crash out of Europe on 31 December. There is a very real possibility that the country will run out of petrol.

Back in October, a reader of The Jewish News was outraged at the idea that the Congestion Charge might mean they could no longer drive their private car from Temple Fortune to their synagogue in Finchley, instead of getting the direct bus that takes about seven minutes.

What might they have to say about something so anti-Semitic as a modern-day oil shortage in the new year?


Oppressors cast out of the Labour Party after a brave fight by British Jews

Long, long ago, a haughty tyrant tried to force our ancestors to give up their beliefs and customs and seats on the National Executive Committee. If he had succeeded, our people and our faith would have broadly been alright but a bit sad because of all the hate on Twitter. But, with amazing courage, first a few, then more, then still more resisted the oppressor, and argued with each other about who should get the credit and who should be called a Nazi collaborator.

After years of struggle, the Party was rededicated; the flame of the Jewish Labour Movement, so nearly extinguished, was rekindled; and this festival of lights – one candle for each of the EHRC’s 19 recommendations – was instituted. May it be a time of unity and measured online reactions for us and for all our brothers and sisters of the House of the Zionist Entity.

A note for those who find this parody of the Channukah liturgy to be unacceptably predictable, tasteless, misguided, offensive, witless, irreverent, unbecoming, unfunny, pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, iconoclastic, flippant and/ or sacreligious:

Well-spotted. Why don’t you write your feedback down, put it in an envelope, tear it in half, throw it away and move on.


Your questions answered: Christmas gatherings

Q: Surely it makes sense for the government to make an exception to the rules for Christmas, and not Eid, because way more people want to gather with family over Christmas?
A: Surely more people gathering makes it much worse an idea?

Q: How dare you suggest that the police and the government have the right to tell me what I can and can’t do?
A: That’s literally the point of having police and government.

Q: Don’t you know that the health service is there to protect us, not the other way round? So this whole ‘protect the NHS’ thing is offensive.
A: You may be confusing ‘the NHS’ with ‘magic’.

Q: You don’t really believe that Christmas is a religious thing? It’s just part of British culture!
A: I wonder how it became part of British culture and whether Christian hegemony had any role to play…

Q: How can you say that a Christmas exemption favours Christians when we weren’t allowed to mark Easter and that’s an even more important festival?
A: If a teacher gives one pupil a £5 note, they’re showing favouritism to that pupil. The fact that the pupil would really have liked the £5 note and also a £10 note doesn’t really change that.

Q: Why shouldn’t I be allowed to gather at Christmas at risk to my own health if I choose?
A: For the same reason you shouldn’t be allowed to run a red light at risk your own safety.

Q: What about the Human Rights Act? Does that help me?
A: No.

Q: What about GDPR? Does that help me?
A: No.

Q: What about habeas corpus? Does that help me?
A: No.

Q: What about the Magna Carta? Does that help me?
A: No.

Q: What about the Corpus Christi? Does that help me?
A: That’s a college.


We began this year hoping we might have one covid vaccine, and it looks like we might get eight. Stay safe, follow the rules, and maybe – just maybe – we’ll be back together in 2021.