General registration opened today for the Union for Reform Judaism’s 2013 72nd North American Biennial, the largest Jewish gathering in North America, taking place Dec. 11-15, 2013, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. Priority registration for members of URJ-member congregations has been open since late July.
The URJ 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 concurrent to the Biennial and will be integrated with Biennial programming, giving Biennial and Assembly participants opportunities to study, worship, learn, network and celebrate WRJ’s Centennial Anniversary together.
Highlights for the 2013 Biennial will include the largest Shabbat dinner in the world; inspiring Torah study sessions and learning sessions; an evening of entertainment in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp District; world-class concerts from Josh Nelson, Dan Nichols, Julie Silver, Rick Recht, Billy Jonas, and Neshama Carlebach; an exhibit hall with more than 150 vendors and more.
Participants will hear from top-notch speakers including Ruth Calderon, Member of Knesset; Rabbi Elka Abrahamson, President, Wexner Foundation; Jay Feinberg, Founder and CEO, Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation; and more to be announced. Previous Biennials have featured President Barack Obama, former Vice President Al Gore, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and actor and activist Michael J. Fox.
New to the Biennial this year is the Kikar Biennial, the Biennial “Town Square” where participants will relax, network and have access to special events and workshops. Also new are intensive in-depth programs on a variety of topics, designed and taught by leaders such as Ari Weinzweig, Co-Founder, Zingerman’s Deli; Dr. Alan Morinis, Founder, Mussar Institute, and Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, President, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.
Shabbat at Biennial will include intimate gatherings and a service with URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Rabbi/Cantor Angela Buchdahl of Central Synagogue in New York and retiring HUC President Rabbi David Ellenson.