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NEW YORK - The largest and fastest growing organization in North American Judaism, The Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), representing more
than 900 congregations and 1.5 million Reform Jews - will meet for its Biennial Convention in Minneapolis, November 5-9, 2003 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
While the latest Jewish population survey suggests a steady decline in the Jewish population as a whole and a decrease in synagogue affiliation, the Reform
Movement continues to experience an increase in membership, with more than 60 new congregations formed in the past decade. The UAHC attributes this growth
to the Reform Judaism's willingness to change, its leadership in issues of social justice, civil liberties, and the full equality of women, and its
outreach to interfaith families who wish to explore and embrace the richness of Judaism.
A highlight of the 2003 Biennial Convention will come on Friday morning, when the assembled delegates debate a proposal to change the name of the venerable
organization to the Union for Reform Judaism. Its current name was established in 1873 when the Union was founded by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise.
The Biennial convention is an opportunity for lay leaders of the Movement's congregations to learn practical skills in one of more than 160 workshops;
debate resolutions that will determine the future direction of the Movement; hear from prominent speakers; study with leading scholars, spend a
life-transforming Shabbat worshiping in a congregation of 4,500 people and hear Rabbi Eric Yoffie's vision for the movement.
Leading entertainers will perform every evening, with a concert by artist Debbie Friedman scheduled for Saturday evening. Attendees will also have the
opportunity to shop at the largest exhibit of Jewish art, crafts, and ritual items ever assembled, with more than 200 exhibitors participating in this
year's show, and open to the public on Sunday, November 9.
Other highlights of the convention include:
Thursday, November 6
Friday, November 7
Saturday, November 8
As always, the implications for the movement will be significant. Since his election to the presidency seven years ago, Rabbi Yoffie has called for greater
Jewish literacy, reinvigorated Reform worship, and brought new substance and vitality to religious school education.