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October 7, 2015 | 24th Tishrei 5776

General Talking Points About Biennial

General Info

  • Union for Reform Judaism's 2013 72nd North American Biennial is the largest Jewish gathering in North America.
  • The Biennial will take place Dec. 11-15, 2013, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.
  • The 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.
  • The Women of Reform Judaism's Assembly will gather concurrently.
  • 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.

Highlights of the 2013 Biennial will include:

  1. The largest Shabbat dinner in the world
  2. Shabbat worship services led by URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Cantor Angela Buchdahl of Central Synagogue in New York and retiring HUC-JIR President Rabbi David Ellenson
  3. Inspiring Torah study sessions and learning sessions
  4. An evening of entertainment in San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter, and world-class music entertainment throughout from Josh Nelson, Dan Nichols, Julie Silver, Rick Recht, Billy Jonas and Neshama Carlebach
  5. Kikar Biennial, the Biennial "Town Square," a new space in which participants can relax, network, and have access to special events and workshops
  6. Intensive, in-depth programs on a variety of topics, designed and taught by Ari Weinzweig, co-founder, Zingerman's Deli; Dr. Alan Morinis, founder, Mussar Institute, and staff from the Shalom Hartman Institute, and others
  7. An exhibit hall with more than 150 vendors

Participants will hear from top-notch speakers. Confirmed speakers include:

  1. Rick Reilly, ESPN columnist, 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year and founder of Nothing But Nets
  2. Ilyse Hogue, President, NARAL Pro-Choice America
  3. Julian Bond, Former Chairman NAACP, former President of Southern Poverty Law Center, and founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
  4. Anat Hoffman, Executive Director, Israel Religious Action Center, and Chairwoman, Women of the Wall
  5. Lihi Lapid, Israeli Journalist and Author
  6. Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
  7. Dr. Jonathan Sarna, Professor, Brandeis University
  8. Ruth Calderon, Member of Knesset
  9. Rabbi Elka Abrahamson, President, Wexner Foundation
  10. Jay Feinberg, Founder and CEO, Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation
  11. Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, President, Shalom Hartman Institute
  12. Rabbi Sharon Brous, Ikar, Los Angeles, CA
  13. Ari Weinzweig, Co-Founder, Zingerman's, Ann Arbor, MI
  14. Amichai Lau-Lavie, Founding Director, Storahtelling, URJ Faculty
  15. Rabbi Larry Hoffman, HUC-JIR Faculty, URJ Faculty
  16. Rabbi Sheila Weinberg, Co-Founder, Institute for Jewish Spirituality, URJ Faculty
  17. Ron Wolfson, Author and visionary Jewish educator, URJ Faculty
  18. Dr. Alan Morinis, Founder, Mussar Institute, URJ Faculty
  19. Lisa Colton, Chief Learning Officer, See3, URJ Faculty

About Registration:

Visit to register

  • $675 (Early bird registration rate until October 18 for URJ members)
  • $725 (Regular registration rate after October 18 for URJ members)
  • $995 (Registration rate for non-URJ members, which begins on August 19)
  • Special registration rates are available for: retired clergy, members of WUPJ congregations, young adults (18-35), military personnel, HUC-JIR students, day rates, Shabbat only, etc.

About the Exhibit Hall:

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