Thousands to Gather at URJ Biennial to Reimagine Jewish Life

Participants to Meet, Pray and Learn for Five Days in San Diego this December

Contact: Annette Powers

August 19, 2013, New York — Registration opened today for the Union for Reform Judaism’s 2013 72nd North American Biennial, the largest Jewish gathering in North America. The Women of Reform Judaism’s Assembly will gather concurrently. Both conventions will take place Dec. 11-15, 2013, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

The URJ Biennial will bring together 5,000 Jewish lay leaders and professionals, youth, congregants, and clergy to learn, pray, share ideas, and make decisions about the future of Jewish life. For the first time ever, the Biennial is open to those outside the Reform Movement.

“We are excited to open the Biennial to our many friends from outside the Reform Movement,” said Biennial Chair Edward Burger (Fairfield, CT). “When we opened up the proposals for our learning sessions, we received more than 500 proposals, many of which came from beyond our synagogues and institutions. We know we have much to learn from those outside our Movement, and we are confident that we have much to offer them as well. As a result of having this shared Biennial experience, we anticipate a greater level of awareness and collaboration throughout the entire North American Jewish community.”

The WRJ Assembly will be integrated with the Biennial programming, giving Biennial and Assembly participants opportunities to study, worship, learn, network and celebrate WRJ’s Centennial Anniversary together.

“This Assembly culminates a year-long celebration of WRJ’s Centennial, which has been guided by the motto ‘Inspired by the past, Committed to the future,’” said WRJ Executive Director Rabbi Marla J. Feldman. “During the concurrent Biennial and Assembly conferences, we look forward to having the entire Reform Movement join us as we learn more about WRJ’s storied accomplishments this century and also lay the foundation for WRJ’s next hundred years and beyond.”

Highlights for the 2013 Biennial will include the largest Shabbat dinner in the world; inspiring Torah study sessions and learning sessions; an evening of entertainment in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp District; world-class concerts from Josh Nelson, Dan Nichols, Julie Silver, Rick Recht, Billy Jonas and Neshama Carlebach; an exhibit hall with more than 150 vendors and more.
Participants will hear from top-notch speakers including Ruth Calderon, Member of Knesset; Rabbi Elka Abrahamson, President, Wexner Foundation; Jay Feinberg, Founder and CEO, Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation; and more to be announced. Previous Biennials have featured President Barack Obama, former Vice President Al Gore, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and actor and activist Michael J. Fox.

New to the Biennial this year is the Kikar Biennial, the Biennial “Town Square” where participants will relax, network and have access to special events and workshops. Also new are intensive in-depth programs on a variety of topics, designed and taught by leaders such as Ari Weinzweig, Co-Founder, Zingerman’s Deli; Dr. Alan Morinis, Founder, Mussar Institute, and Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, President, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.

Shabbat at Biennial will include intimate gatherings and a service with URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Rabbi/Cantor Angela Buchdahl of Central Synagogue in New York and retiring HUC President Rabbi David Ellenson.
“The 2013 Biennial promises to be an exhilarating and illuminating event,” said URJ Chair Steve Sacks. “We look forward to greeting old and new friends, learning from one another and exploring ways to reshape the fabric of the Jewish community together.”

Visit for more information and to register now.

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is a dynamic network of congregations, institutions, lay leaders, clergy and professionals across North America that impacts the lives of millions of individuals every day. Our progressive, inclusive approach unites thousands of years of Jewish tradition and values with modern Jewish experience to strengthen Judaism today and for future generations. Through programs, information and networking opportunities provided by the URJ, our nearly 900 member congregations enhance their capacity to build and expand community, deepen Jewish learning, energize worship, pursue social justice and develop inspired leadership.

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