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Chairman's Perspective: Join Me in San Diego

The next Union for Reform Judaism Biennial and Women of Reform Judaism Assembly will convene December 11–15, 2013 in San Diego, California, and I urge you to be part of it. For Reform Jews, there is really nothing like the feeling of being at Biennial. What excitement to worship on Shabbat with 5,000 Reform Jews from all over the world. Many of our Movement’s finest musical talents lead us in song sessions. Keynote speakers—in the past, President Barack Obama, actor and activist Michael J. Fox, actor and musician Theodore Bikel, and former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak—offer life-changing insights on the critical issues of our times. Dozens of different workshops and study sessions deepen our Jewish knowledge and help us to better serve our congregations. (For more on how Biennial transforms synagogues, see “The Biennial as Change Agent.”) And, if you’re like me, you’ll also relish the many spontaneous opportunities to share experiences and ideas with Jewish leaders and thinkers throughout the Movement. 

In a new spirit of openness, this year the URJ is inviting the wider Jewish world to join with us as participants and presenters in San Diego—a decision made possible by the URJ Board’s vote last December to open up Biennial registration to all who are interested in attending. Showcasing our Movement to the wider Jewish community and offering a wider range of workshop topics—from the arts, to politics, to synagogue governance—will, we believe, help our congregations expand their reach. I feel confident that once unaffiliated Jews experience our Movement at a Biennial, they will be inspired to join a Reform congregation near them.

Working tirelessly to make the upcoming Biennial an extraordinary experience are Biennial Chair Ed Burger (Congregation B’nai Israel, Bridgeport, Connecticut) and Vice-Chair Jan Marion (Temple B’nai Israel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma). They join me in inviting you to learn, connect, and share your expertise and enthusiasm at the largest gathering in North American Jewish life. 

See you in San Diego. 

Stephen M. Sacks, Chairman 
Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees