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October 8, 2015 | 25th Tishrei 5776

Contact: Emily Grotta
UAHC Department of Communications


BOSTON--More than 5,000 people will be in Boston this week for the Reform Movement's Biennial Convention, which meets Wednesday through Sunday at the Hynes Convention Center.

This year's convention, which brings together the leadership of the more than 900 Reform congregations in the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and its affiliate Women of Reform Judaism, is the largest ever and exceeds what was anticipated even before the events of September 11. Representatives from 49 states and the District of Columbia, Canada, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Israel, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Australia are attending.

"We're expecting more than 5,800 people for dinner Friday night," said Robin Hirsch, UAHC Director of Meetings and Conventions. "That's a lot of Shabbat chicken," she said, referring to what is traditionally served for dinner at the start of the Jewish Shabbat.

Major concerns that will be addressed over the course of the Biennial Convention include Israel, particularly in light of the events of this weekend; September 11, and its impact on civil liberties; and new trends in personal and congregational worship and growth.

The convention includes meetings of the General Assembly, the delegate body of the UAHC, at which major presentations and addresses occur; more than 200 workshops on a wide variety of topics of interest to congregational leaders; entertainment by the leading musicians of the Jewish world; a 24-hour Shabbat experience, including a single Saturday morning worship service for more than 5,000 people; and a vast array of Judaica available for purchase in the exhibit hall (open to the public on Sunday).

Among the highlights of the convention:

Wednesday, December 5, 2001:
9:00 a.m. - Noon
Peace in Israel: Can A Great Miracle Happen There?
  • Arik Asherman, Executive Director, Rabbis for Human Rights, Jerusalem
  • Gidi Grinstein, Israel-Wexner Fellow, Kennedy School of Government
  • Yoram Peri, President, New Israel Fund & Professor, Hebrew University BR>(8:15-10:15 p.m.)
    • Presentation of the Eisendrath Award for Service to the World Community to the September 11 rescuers: As representatives are honored Wednesday night the UAHC will announce how more than $1 million that was contributed to the UAHC Disaster Relief Fund by Reform Jews in the wake of September 11 will be distributed.
    • Barry Shrage, President of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston
    Thursday, December 6, 2001:
    Israel Update: 8:45 - 10:15 a.m.
  • Rabbi Uri Regev, director of the Israeli Religious Action Center and newly appointed director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, Jerusalem
  • Combating Terrorism: Protecting Civil Liberties 10:30 - noon
  • Nadine Strossen, President, ACLU
  • Steven Emerson, Executive Director, Investigative Project
  • Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
  • Friday, December 7, 2001:
    • 10:15 a.m: A Torah Returns: Senator Edward Kennedy will bring a Torah given by the UAHC to President John Kennedy 40 years ago to the Hynes Convention Center. The Torah will be used for Shabbat worship during the convention.
    • Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt: The Emory University professor who won a British libel trial defending her book that exposed the twisted logic of Holocaust deniers, will receive the Eisendrath Award for Service to World Jewry.
    Saturday, December 8, 2001:
    10:00 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  • Shabbat Morning Worship
  • Presidential Address by Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, at which major initiatives for the coming year will be announced. (note: Rabbi Yoffie will begin speaking at approximately 11:30 a.m.)
    9:00 p.m. - 11 p.m.
  • A Pageant of Tribute to eight have made significant contributions to North American Reform Jewry
  • Debbie Firedman in Concert

  • Sunday, December 9, 2001:
    • Judaica Exhibit open to the public, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
    • Musical Concert: Biennial musicians to perform at concert to benefit the Rashi School; open to the public.

    Editor's note: All events are open to the press.

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    The Union of American Hebrew Congregations is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, representing over 1.5 million Reform Jews in over 900 congregations. UAHC services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programming, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC..


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