2017 URJ Biennial to Bring 5,000 Reform Jewish Leaders to Boston December 6-10 For Learning, Leadership Development, Spirited Worship, Entertainment, and Much More

Inside Leadership

2017 URJ Biennial to Bring 5,000 Reform Jewish Leaders to Boston December 6-10 For Learning, Leadership Development, Spirited Worship, Entertainment, and Much More

Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154


November 6, 2017, New York, NY -- The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) will gather 5,000 Jewish leaders at the 74th URJ North American Biennial convention, taking place December 6-10, 2017 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts. 

The URJ is the most powerful force in North American Jewish life, representing the largest, most diverse Jewish movement and inspiring 2 million people from nearly 900 congregations.

The URJ Biennial is the largest Jewish religious gathering in North America. With the theme of Reimagining Jewish Life, Biennial 2017 brings together clergy, professionals, lay leaders, educators, youth leaders, and high school and college students to learn, pray, share ideas, network, celebrate, make Reform Movement policy, and create engagement opportunities for the Reform Jewish community.

5,000 Reform Jewish leaders from 57 states/provinces and around the world, including more than 450 rabbis, 150 cantors, and 200 congregational presidents will be in attendance.

Speakers include social justice leader Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Chair of URJ North American Board of Trustees Daryl Messinger, Israeli author and activist David Grossman, as well as hundreds of leading authors, scholars, and Israeli and North American opinion leaders. The URJ Biennial also features the most comprehensive line-up of Jewish musicians.

“The URJ Biennial continues to grow bigger and more impactful. Front and center on our program are the most effective leaders who are bringing change to the urgent issues that affect the Jewish community and our world,” said Rabbi Jacobs. “At this Biennial, we will present the boldest, most significant ways to strengthen our congregations, work for social justice, engage our youth, experience Jewish learning, and open even more pathways into Jewish life.”

“No event is better than the URJ Biennial at responding to the world around us, celebrating our living Torah, and embracing our Jewish values. Biennial enables the URJ to break ground and make news as we work to reimagine Jewish life so there can be more wholeness, justice, and compassion for everyone,” said Messinger.

“For clergy, synagogue professionals, and lay leaders, the URJ Biennial offers new and creative solutions about every aspect of congregational life,” said Chair of the URJ Biennial 2017 Luise Mann Burger. “Biennial is simply the best way for local leaders to learn from, share ideas, and network with peers and leading experts.”

Among the highlights of the 2017 Biennial:

  • 200 learning sessions of intensive training for lay and professional leaders led by 400 expert presenters
  • New daily themes focused on Reimagining Jewish Life: Diversity, Innovation, Action, Faith, Community
  • Resolutions adopted by URJ Biennial delegates address social, economic, and humanitarian issues. Topics of the proposed resolutions being deliberated and voted on at the 2017 Biennial include pursuing racial justice, addressing the impacts of climate change, redistricting, school discipline and academic climate, student on student sexual violence in schools, and responding to the global refugee crisis.
  • Programming is organized within five intensive tracks that reflect the top priorities of the URJ's bold 2020 Vision action plan: Strengthening Congregations, Audacious Hospitality, Tikkun Olam (social justice), Youth Engagement, and Transforming Texts (presented in partnership with the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion). View the detailed schedule.
  • Inspiring worship, Torah study, and Jewish learning opportunities
  • Exciting plenary sessions with world-renowned speakers, including URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, leading authors, expert practitioners, Israeli and North American opinion leaders
  • Best Jewish music lineup anywhere including 3 dozen leading musicians and groups, and the Biennial choir featuring conference participants
  • A 5,000-person Shabbat celebration
  • An exhibit hall with more than 150 vendors and Jewish organizations

Biennial attendees will hear from illustrious speakers and expert practitioners, including:

  • Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, social justice leader of Moral Mondays, Repairers of the Breach
  • Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Michigan State University-Hurley Children's Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative: her study exposed elevated blood levels in Flint children
  • David Grossman, Israeli author and activist, just named the winner of the Man-Booker International Prize for Literature
  • James Beard Award-winning executive chef Michael Solomonov
  • Krista Tippett, host of On Being public radio show and podcast
  • Jodi Nussbaum, VP, Sesame Workshop
  • Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ President
  • Daryl Messinger, Chair of URJ North American Board of Trustees
  • More renowned speakers and performers continue to be added daily

Media coverage requests: Press credentials must be requested in advance via this form.

Visit www.URJ.org/Biennial for event info. Use hashtag #URJBiennial. Follow the URJ on Facebook & Twitter.


About the Union for Reform Judaism

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.

Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people. Our legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that we can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.

Visit us at www.URJ.org to learn about our social justice initiatives, camps and programs for young Jews, services for congregations and communities, and how you can work with us to create a more just, whole, and compassionate world. Enjoy related content at ReformJudaism.org and connect with URJ on Twitter and Facebook.

Published: 11/06/2017

Categories: Press Releases

Find More in The Tent

Learn more about this exciting new platform, where Reform congregational leaders connect with colleagues and peers who have similar concerns, interests and responsibilities.