Call to the 71st URJ Biennial
by Peter J. Weidhorn
Chair, URJ Board of Trustees
Even as you prepare to fire up the backyard grill, dive intothe cool, clear water of a swimming pool or escape town for the upcomingholiday weekend, the URJ is putting into place a thousand and one different detailsfor its 71st Biennial convention,where the Reform Jewish community will come together in greater Washington, DCfrom December 14-18, 2011.
Ask anyone who’s ever been to a URJ Biennial and you’ll hearall about learning and sharing with experts in such areas of Reform life as education,prayer, synagogue management and more.
You’ll hear about meaningful and movingworship and about the raucous and joyful Shabbat song session. You’ll hearabout inspirational speakers such as 2009 headliners Michael J. Fox,Amos Oz, Tony Blairand others. And, you’ll hear about connecting with friends–old and new–to revelin the joy of being Jewish together. Mostof all, you’ll hear about the tremendous sense of community, the fellowship andthe “magic” that happens when 4,500 Reform Jews gather together in one place. A number of Biennial participants bloggedabout their experiences the last time around.
Whether you’re a congregational president, a socialactivist, or hail from a small synagogue (or one with thousands of members), theBiennial offers you lots of opportunities. Expand your understanding of synagogue life, network with others, study, learn and praytogether, participate in a tikkun olamproject, meet with old friends, make new connections, and nourish yoursoul–spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.
The General Assembly–the delegate body of congregationalrepresentatives and the reason for the whole Biennial megillah–meets during plenary sessions to vote on resolutions thatwill shape and inform the direction and actions of the Union in the coming twoyears; it’s the constitutionally mandated reason for the Biennial.
The Biennial is open to every member of a URJ congregationin good standing. Don’t forget to reach out to your NFTY leaders (there’ll be aseparate program for them) and to college students and young adults in their20s and 30s, too. They’re the future ofour Movement and their voices are more critical than ever as we plan for waysto meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. There’s no limit to thenumber of people who can attend the Biennial–as long as they’re a member of aURJ congregation in good standing–so think big and think outside the box!
As though Biennials aren’t special enough, this year we’llalso pay tribute to Rabbi Eric Yoffie and his legacy to our Movement, and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ReligiousAction Center of Reform Judaism. Many wonderful speakers are already on tap andmore will be added to the schedule in the coming months. Plus, our location in the Washington, DCCapital area will give us access to all the area has to offer, includinggovernment leaders at the highest levels as well as plenty of cultural andsightseeing opportunities before and after our gathering.
Stay tuned here and at the URJ’s Biennial site forupdates, information and deadlines, and plan to join me and the rest of yourReform Jewish family at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Centerin December for the best Biennial yet!