Limmud Oz presenter questions exclusion

Attendees at a previous Limmud Oz. Photo: Peter Haskin

LIMMUD Sydney and a long-time local presenter are at odds after the latter was excluded from a climate change panel at this year’s event.

Brian Levitan, who has been involved with Limmud Oz since its inception, claims he was deregistered from this year’s event due to having a dissenting view on climate change.

But Limmud Sydney say he was excluded to offer new presenters an opportunity and due to “condensing overlapping topics into panels”.

Levitan told The AJN that when Limmud Oz initially put out a call for presenters, he submitted a presentation on “Jewish Contribution to Climate Science”, which included material from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Emeritus Professor Richard Lindzen and Hebrew University Associate Professor Nir Shaviv, both of whom question the human causes of climate change.

“They said ‘you’re in’,” he said.

Two weeks later he said he received a phone call to say a number of sessions – including his – had been culled, but he was invited to join an existing panel, “Jewish Responses to Climate Change: Thought and Action”, which he accepted.

Subsequently, he said he received another phone call to say he didn’t fit the objectives of the panel.

“The specific objection communicated to me, was my reference to two of the greatest climate science intellects of our time, Professors Lindzen and Shaviv.

“They did not want me on the panel,” he said, adding, “I do not wish Limmud Oz harm, a fine institution, deserving of our full support.”

In a statement provided to The AJN, Limmud Sydney acknowledged Levitan’s “extensive contribution as a presenter over many years”. 

“Unfortunately, not all presenters were included in the final program due to a number of reasons, including capacity and topic overlap,” Limmud Sydney said.

“In this instance several proposals around climate change were condensed into a single panel. The decision not to include Mr Levitan on the panel was not taken lightly, and was based primarily on offering new presenters the opportunity to present, and condensing overlapping topics into panels.

“Limmud Oz upholds the notion that everyone is welcome at Limmud Oz, whether in the capacity of presenter or participant, Mr Levitan is no different and we welcome him to the festival, to engage in open and respectful conversation, and further promote Limmud Oz’s ideals of being an inclusive community, and hope that he will present at a future Limmud Oz.”

AJN STAFF