Like an abundant banquet, the URJ Biennial takes time to digest. It also takes time to recoup the lost sleep, but the activity is so intense that we don’t want to break away even for a moment.
This was a record. Approximately 6,000 participants gathered in Washington D.C. for the largest ever Biennial convention of the Reform Movement… and the gathering exceeded expectations.
We brought ten people from Temple Beth Israel in Fresno which is a good size delegation from a medium size congregation coming from across the country and we were well represented in participation. Most prominent among our delegation was Rabbi Laura Novak Winer who organized and ran URJ’s Education Summit focused upon the Campaign for Youth Engagement. Our Cantorial Soloist, Steve Dropkin opened the stage at the URJ Bookstore with a great set of music, Michael Waxman added his voice to the spectacular URJ Biennial Choir and the rest of us added our voices to the excitement pervading the entire conference. If you check out the short recap video, you’ll catch some familiar faces…
It takes time to process everything we experienced, but bits of the excitement will definitely appear locally. We bring back information and ideas and plenty of energy.
On a personal note, I discovered an interesting coincidence. Rabbi Eric Yoffie began his presidency about the same time I began my first position in the rabbinate and served for sixteen years in that capacity. Now, as we begin Rabbi Rick Jacobs’ presidency, I begin my next rabbinic position as well. While I certainly don’t equate my position with that of the head of our movement, I find it exciting to begin a new position as the URJ begins its next chapter.
Each Biennial brings exciting developments in the history of Reform Judaism. I’m still digesting this one, but I know that among the many powerful moments, I will always remember the historic moment as we shared the first time a sitting president addressed the URJ Biennial. Many thanks to all those who made it happen.