A Post-Biennial Round-Up: The Addresses You Want to (Re-)Read

December 17, 2019Kate Bigam Kaput

It's hard to believe that after so many months of meticulous planning and enthusiasm, the 2019 URJ Biennial has already come and gone. Whether you want to re-read your favorite addresses from the event or will be experiencing them here for the first time, we're doing our best to get everything online and available to you. All week long, stay tuned here and on our Facebook page as we continue to update this list with links to additional addresses.

"As Numerous As the Stars in Heaven"

by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism

So many people are looking for the authentic, meaningful experiences Reform Judaism offers – and as long as I have the great honor of leading our movement, we’re not going to walk away from them. Not now, not ever.

"We Love Being Jewish"

by Daryl Messinger, Outgoing Chair, URJ North American Board

There is plenty about the world today that may divide us, that we might fear, but what do all of us gathered here have in common? Let me suggest one, deceptively simple answer: We love being Jewish...I’ve been amazed, impressed, and inspired by all the ways large and small, that we demonstrate our love for being Jewish.

"The Nachson, the Miriam, the Devorah of the American Cantorate"

by Cantor Barbara Ostfeld, recipient, 2019 Debbie Friedman Award for Contributions to Jewish Music

What I’ve learned after 44 years as a cantor is that the sound of prayer doesn’t have to be beautiful. It just has to be intentional. Prayer needs to be our own real voices singing our true words.

"My Jewish Story Starts Within - and I'm Happy to Explore It"

by Sheldon Cole, member, Temple Sholom in Vancouver, BC

I’m now more involved than I ever thought possible. Call it religious, call it spiritual, call it mishugenah – but contributing my time and energy for the betterment of others in a Reform synagogue environment works for me.

"How Can We Start Experimenting with Change – in a Big Way?"

by Amy Asin, Vice President of Strengthening Congregations, URJ

I’m here to tell you that we – as a Movement, as leaders of Reform congregational life in North America – are going to have to want change, want to change, and all of us will need to lead that change.

"What Will You Do at a Time Such as This?"

by Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center

This election will determine the future for DREAMers, immigrants and refugees. This election will impact the lives of women, LGBTQ folks, and people of color. This election could declare our commitment to saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, ending the plague of gun violence.

"For Me, the Personal is Always Political"

by Elias Rosenfeld, immigration rights activist

It is our responsibility to make our immigration system more just and compassionate. If there has ever been a time to use our privilege, resources, advocacy, and agency against these cruel acts of injustice, it is now and today. 

"The Three Main Challenges of Global Judaism Today"

by Isaac Herzog, chairman of the executive, The Jewish Agency 

What are the main challenges as we deal with them today, encompassing the entire picture of the global Jewish map? First and foremost, in my mind: How do we prevent an irreversible rift between the two major communities together with all others – between what I call Jerusalem and Babylon, 7 million Jews in Israel and 7 million Jews in North America?

"All the Things We Can Do with Hope"

by Evan Traylor

Hope can be too hard to find - but really, those moments are exactly when we need hope the most. As I reflect upon my life, I am struck by this idea of hope, and how it serves as the underpinning of my entire family’s history.

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