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5,000 Reform Jewish leaders to gather in Boston for 2017 URJ Biennial

URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs

NOVEMBER 30, 2017 – BOSTON – Senator Elizabeth Warren and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will be among the featured speakers at the upcoming Union for Reform Judaism Biennial, the largest Jewish religious gathering in North America.

The URJ will gather 5,000 Jewish leaders at the 74th annual convention, from Dec. 6-10 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

The biennial 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 community. The theme of Biennial 2017 is “Reimagining Jewish Life.”

“The URJ is thrilled to announce that Senator Warren and Governor Baker will be among the URJ Biennial’s featured speakers addressing the sold-out audience and joining 500 world-class presenters and change-makers appearing on the Biennial stage,” said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs. “These distinguished officials recognize the prominent roles that Reform Jewish clergy and lay leaders play in the political, civil, and cultural lives of all North Americans. The important voices of Senator Warren and Governor Baker are welcome ones as we navigate an ever-changing world. We know their remarks will resonate deeply with Biennial participants and our understanding of the most important Jewish values.”

URJ Biennial speakers include Jacobs; Daryl Messinger, chair of the URJ North American Board of Trustees; David Grossman, Israeli author and activist; Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, social justice leader;  Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, public health advocate whose research exposed the Flint water crisis; as well as hundreds of leading authors, scholars, and opinion makers. The URJ Biennial also features a comprehensive lineup of Jewish musicians.

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.

According to the URJ, the organization represents the largest, most diverse Jewish movement and inspires 2 million people from nearly 900 congregations.

“The URJ Biennial continues to grow bigger and more impactful,” said Jacobs. “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. 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.”

Said Messinger, “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.”

Luise Mann Burger, chair of the 2017 Biennial, said, “For clergy, synagogue professionals, and lay leaders, the URJ Biennial offers new and creative solutions about every aspect of congregational life. 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  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.

For more information, go to urj.org.

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