August 4, 2011, New York -- Online registration is officially open for the Union for Reform Judaism's 2011 North American Biennial, the largest Jewish denominational gathering in North America. The URJ Biennial brings together nearly 5,000 people from hundreds of congregations. Reform Jewish lay leaders and professionals, youth, congregants, and clergy, are invited to learn, pray, share ideas, and make decisions about the policies of the Reform Movement.
The Biennial will take place Dec. 14-18, 2011 at the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center in the greater Washington, DC area, and is expected to draw thousands of Reform Jews from across North America and the world.
Highlights for the 2011 Biennial will include the votes on resolutions that will shape and inform the direction of the Reform Movement for the next two years, the largest Shabbat dinner in the world, an education summit on youth engagement, inspirational live music concerts, inspiring Torah study, learning lounges, tours of the local area and more. Participants will also hear from top-notch speakers. Previous Biennials have featured former Vice President Al Gore, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and actor and activist Michael J. Fox.
"The Biennial has not just something for everyone, but a lot for everyone. Congregational leaders can expand their knowledge about every aspect of synagogue life, from the arts to education to Zionism. Social action enthusiasts can network and be inspired." said URJ Chairman Peter Weidman in a recent letter sent to Reform Jewish leaders. "And whether you're from a synagogue small or large, are facing robust times or difficulties, there are endless opportunities for you to study, learn and pray together, to talk about issues and to do tikkun olam, to meet with old friends and to make new connections, to be spiritually, emotionally and intellectually nourished."
This Biennial will be the last for outgoing URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie, after serving the Union for the past 16 years, and for Chairman of the Board Peter Weidhorn. The gathering will also be the first opportunity for President-elect Rabbi Rick Jacobs and the new Chairman Steve Sacks to address the larger Movement. In addition, there will be celebrations marking the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's 50th anniversary and a tribute to one of the Reform Movement's icons, Debbie Friedman (z"l).
"I have been to 16 Biennials," said outgoing URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie. "and each time I have witnessed the burning passion of Reform Jews to pray, study Torah, and strengthen their synagogues. This Biennial, coming at a moment of transition and change, will be especially momentous, and all who attend will help give shape to the future of our Movement and our people."