URJ Biennial, North America's Largest Jewish Gathering, Begins in Chicago

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Jodi Kantor, Deborah Lipstadt, Isaac Herzog, Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, Neshama Carlebach, Rabbi Rick Jacobs and More to Join 5,000 Reform Jewish Leaders for Learning, Leadership Development, Spirited Worship, Entertainment

December 11, 2019; Chicago, IL – The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has gathered more than 5,000 Reform Jewish leaders and community members at the 75th URJ Biennial, taking place December 11-15, 2019 at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, Illinois.

The Union for Reform Judaism Biennial, the largest Jewish gathering in North America, is back in Chicago for the first time in more than 30 years.

5,000+ participants from 525 congregations hail from 54 states and provinces, and 75 international congregations. Clergy, educators, lay leaders, and youth leaders will learn, pray, share ideas, network, celebrate, and make Reform Movement policy. 

“This Biennial focuses on the ways the Reform Jewish Movement uses our strength to do good,” said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. “We are thinking differently, collaborating across our network of congregations and communities, and enhancing important partnerships to strengthen the future of the entire Jewish community. Biennial will introduce several bold and impactful actions that the URJ will be leading throughout 2020 to address our most significant priorities – by connecting more individuals to a more meaningful Jewish life and by helping bring about more justice and wholeness in the world.”

See the list of featured Biennial speakers and view the detailed schedule.

Among the highlights of the 2019 Biennial:

  • 150 learning sessions of intensive training for lay and professional leaders led by 400 expert presenters
  • The URJ is taking an historic step as the first major Jewish denomination or organization expected to endorse a policy to support the development of proposals to provide reparations for American slavery. Resolutions adopted by URJ Biennial delegates address social, economic, and humanitarian issues. Topics of the proposed resolutions that will be voted on at the 2019 URJ Biennial are: Resolution on the Study and Development of Reparations for Slavery and Systemic Racism in the U.S.; Resolution on Supporting Those Affected by the Opioid Crisis; and Resolution on Private Prisons
  • 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

EVENT LIVESTREAM LINK:             URJ.org/Biennial 

PHOTOS AVAILABLE:                       URJ.org/BiennialPhotos

Use hashtag #URJBiennial, and 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 850 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.