The Limmud conference was a disaster. No heat in the bedrooms, freezing cold conference rooms..water pouring from a lobby ceiling into a garbage cans, fire alarms going off on Saturday morning..people had to attend sessions in their coats, hats , gloves and scarves. The steering committee knew that there was a heating problem and assured attendees on Friday that the problem was fixed and that the conference would not be cancelled.
Many people were quite smart and didn’t bother to go up to the Nevele Grande. Those that arrived on Thursday were sent to a nearby resort but friends told us that the place where they were sent had no heat either, so they made their own private arrangements and stayed 20 minutes away from the conference.
We spend a completely sleepless frozen Friday night and along with about 1/3 of the attendees, at 12:30 am Friday someone using a master key, opened our door without even knocking (!) and asked if we had any room for more people, up to 5 people were sharing rooms.
We fled back home to New York City on Saturday. The conference had to supply a bus (maybe buses?) to bring home some of the attendees that wanted to flee the awful conditions at the Nevele.
When we returned to NYC Sat evening by car and we took home a friend that swore he would have nothing to do with Limmud again.**[please see follow up note below]
He said that the organisers did not consider the safety and health of the participants. We felt very responsible for encouraging him and others to attend.
I ended up quite sick with fever, cough and chills, I am writing this today because it is the first day that I feel a bit better and can sit up and write.
Limmud knew that there was a heating problem, they almost cancelled the conference and then sent out emails and a website notice that all was well and the conference was on after all. This was a terrible (perhaps cynical) action. There were hundreds of cold people.
An elderly woman sat with us at Saturday lunch and said that she would have nothing more to do with Limmud and hoped to go home as soon as possible. So sad after all of the planning and hopes for a good conference.
They should have cancelled the conference for safety and health reasons. There were infants, the elderly, and many who could not take these unexpected severe conditions.
The LimmudNY website has a lovely thank you letter for a great conference from a presenter, and nice photos of smiling people, many bundled up in their outdoor clothing although they are indoors.
The Steering Committee worked hard to cope with the problems but it was all beyond their most decent efforts. We understand that when they had a lot less people attending and they could consolidate rooms and presentations spaces, that the conditions improved somewhat.
This was all such a deep disappointment.
We asked if there would be any refunds of the fees but have not yet received the courtesy of a response.
Please click the comments button below and read these insightful comments from readers and join the conversation…and a follow up note: just learned that two more friends became sick after returning from the weekend.
Sad News -Follow up note: The friend mentioned above, who begged us to take him home in our car after suffering the severe cold for an entire evening, died suddenly 4 months after the LimmudNY 09 conference.
I have no idea if this experience had any effect on my friend’s health but it does underline the fact that leadership must take the health and welfare of participants very, very seriously because it is impossible to know the health status of all involved.
This must take precedence over financial considerations.