Can’t join us next week at the URJ Biennial? You can be a part of the convention from the comfort of your own home! We’ll be live-streaming all plenary sessions and Shabbat worship at www.urj.org/biennial, or you can watch the sessions on cable when they play live on JLTV.
You can also join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #Biennial13; we’ll be live-tweeting all the plenaries, and we look forward to interacting with you through our account, @URJ. Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page for highlights, photos, and more.
Below is a schedule of Biennial plenary sessions and services that will be streamed live. It’s the next best thing to being there in person!
Wed., Dec. 11th, 7:30-9:30pm PST (10:30pm-12:30am EST)
At this opening session, we’ll kick off the URJ Biennial by welcoming attendees to San Diego! Jay Feinberg, founder and CEO of Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, will receive the Maurice N. Eisendrath “Bearer of Light” Award, and Rabbi Rick Jacobs will present the Alexander M. Schindler Award to World Jewry to Rabbi David Hartman, z’’l, an award accepted by his son. We’ll also honor Jews who serve in the United States Armed Services, hear an update about Reform Jewish issues in Israel, be treated to stand-up comedy from Joel Chasnoff, and rock out at a performance from Jewish musicians Rick Recht & Julie Silver.
Thurs., Dec. 12th, 7:30-9:30pm (10:30pm-12:30am EST)
Our featured speaker will be Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. We’ll introduce you to URJ Six Points Sci-Tech Academy, one of the URJ’s two newest summer camps, and Rabbi Daniel Freelander, the URJ’s senior vice president, will speak about “Building Our Movement.” Spoken-word artist Andrew Lustig will perform, followed by a show from Jewish rockers Josh Nelson and Dan Nichols.
Fri., Dec. 13th, 10:15 am-12:15pm PST (1:15-3:15pm EST)
We’ll discuss the implications of the recent Pew Center Research study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” featuring Rabbi Elka Abramson of the Wexner Foundation and Dr. Sarah Benor of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. We’ll also celebrate 10 years of the URJ’s Ten Minutes of Torah initiative, recognize award-winning congregations, and celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the American Conference of Cantors. Rabbi David Saperstein and Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Family Foundation will discuss accessibility and inclusion in the Jewish community, and we’ll end the session with a performance from Billy Jonas.
Kabbalat Shabbat T’filah
Fri., Dec. 13th, 5:45-6:45pm (8:45-9:45pm EST)
Services will be led by the clergy team at Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley, MA.
Shabbat Song Session
Fri., Dec. 13th, 9:15-10:15pm (Sat., Dec. 14th, 12:15-1:15am EST)
This Shabbat event is a Biennial favorite, featuring all your favorite music from camp and youth group – live!
Shabbat Shacharit T’filah (starting at the Barechu)
Sat., Dec. 14th, 10am-12:30pm (1-3:30pm EST)
Morning services will be led by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the URJ, and Rabbi/Cantor Angela Buchdahl of Central Synagogue in Manhattan. The Torah-reading will begin with a Seder Kriat haTorah by Storahtelling founder Amichai Lau Lavie and the Dance Exchange’s Liz Lerman, and our d’var Torah will come from Rabbi David Ellenson, outgoing president of HUC-JIR, who we’ll honor in the lead-up to his retirement.
Plenary Four, including Havdalah and WRJ Centennial Celebration
Sat., Dec. 14th, 8:30-10pm (11:30pm-1am EST)
We’ll do Havdalah together and then spend the evening honoring Women of Reform Judaism as they celebrate their 100th anniversary. This session, “Extraordinary Women Shaping Reform Judaism,” will include the presentation of URJ Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award to Women of Reform Judaism & presentation of the WRJ Jane Evans Award to Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center. We’ll also honor the 75th Anniversary of the founding of NFTY, and then head into musical performances from some of the best women in Jewish music today: Beth Schafer, Michelle Citrin, Peri Smilow, Naomi Less, Elana Jagoda, and Julie Silver.
Sun., Dec. 15th, 8:30-10:30am (11:30am-1:30 EST)
We’ll wrap up the Biennial with an address from Rabbi Aaron Panken, president-elect of HUC-JIR, on “What’s Next for our Youth? Setting Inspired Engagement in Motion.” We’ll also kick off the World Zionist Congress Election Campaign, hear from ARZA president Rabbi Josh Weinberg, and end with a performance from Jewish musical favorite Craig Taubman.
Angela Warnick Buchdahl was named Senior Rabbi of Manhattan’s Central Synagogue last night in a unanimous vote by the synagogue’s Board of Trustees, making her the first Asian-American leader of one of the nation’s largest Reform synagogues. Buchdahl currently serves as the synagogue’s Senior Cantor and will succeed Senior Rabbi Peter Rubinstein, who announced his retirement in March after leading the synagogue for 23 years.Click here for the rest of the article...
Rabbi Berland fled from Israel to Morocco after being accused of sexual assault. His presence has drawn attention to the dozens of Israeli fugitives that have made the country their home.Click here for the rest of the article...
Rabbi Sergio Bergman was sworn in to Argentina’s National Parliament on a Tanach.Click here for the rest of the article...
By Cantor Hayley Kobilinsky
The Eileh Ezkerah with which most Reform Jews are currently familiar does not bring to mind familiar melodies. While thematically, Eileh Ezkerah fits well with Yom Kippur, it does not hark to the sounds of the High Holy Day melodies we typically quote. What, then, is to be done with its text? Often, the “From Creation to Redemption” segment found in the CCAR’s Gates of Repentance is simply read aloud. Traditionally, the Eileh Ezkerah would be chanted briefly. In this example, Hazzan Leibele Waldman is heard chanting a dramatic and morose recitation of the beginning of the text. While listening to the first minute or so, bear in mind that Waldman here chants the liturgy in its entirety (and this is only the first half of a twenty-minute-long musical selection). Compare this with the simple chant which begins the version by Hazzan Israel Alter. LISTEN The 34 seconds of Alter’s much longer chant is the entirety of the excerpt of the long piyyut (or poem) found in Gates of Repentance. Such few words leave little room for interpretation or word painting.
Some congregations have chosen to replace Eileh Ezkerah with an alternative. As was discussed in the first installment of studying Eileh Ezkerah, Rabbi Richard Sarason notes that replacing the Eileh Ezkerah piyyut with excerpts and additional thematically similar material is not new; it was removed from some machzorim before the Holocaust due to its content, and reintroduced following the war in various versions.
One of the additional texts found in newer machzorim is “Eli Tzion.” LISTEN This familiar melody, here arranged for choir, brings out the mournful feel of the day by setting the words to a plaintive tune: “For Zion and her cities I mourn like a mother in her anguish, like a woman who mourns the husband of her youth. I mourn the exile of God’s servants, makers of sweet melody, their blood poured out like Zion’s streams.”
True, this portion of Yom Kippur finds us at our lowest depths. Yet hope is provided: as the pages are turned we come to “Mi Ma’amakim”: Out of the depths I call to You, O God. Eternal God, hearken to my voice. The following listening example is in a “round” form: one voice echoes the next, forming a web of harmony as the text and music repeats again and again. The harmonies created are both meditative and anxiety-producing, but as the voices sway through the parts, the dissonance which nearly makes one flinch disappears as quickly as it arrived. LISTEN We again sink down to remember the darkest times of our people but our commitment to survival with “Zog Nit Keynmol.” A Yiddish song also known as Partizaner Lid, which was sung to show resistance to the Nazis, also tells of not giving up hope and that redemption draws near. It ends, “There our courage and our faith will rise and stand.”
The text of the Eileh Ezkerah and the potential we have to supplement it with modern poetry leads one to wonder how the musical selections will evolve with the updates. Will Mishkan HaNefesh include references to recent trials and suffering of the Jewish people? Will its editors continue to excerpt briefly from the original text or reintroduce more of the traditional wording? The afternoon service in Gates of Repentance now ends with “VeYe’etayu,” better known as “All the World Shall Come to Serve You.” The traditional hymn I sang all through my childhood holds fond memories, despite the fact that its lyrics are not exactly politically correct today, as they allude to non-Jews becoming Jews. From my limited observations, it seems as though few congregations stick with the hymn, just as the original Eileh Ezkerah has been omitted from the Reform tradition for these last decades. While it was difficult to give up singing the words which still bring me nostalgic joy, it is also comforting to know that our Reform Judaism continues to evolve with the world around us, both introducing and omitting that which is most fitting for our 21st-century lives.
Eile Ezk’ro, Israel Alter. From The High Holy Day Service: The Complete Musical Liturgy of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for The Hazzan. Cantors Assembly, Inc., 1971. Performed by H. Kobilinsky.
Trad, arr. Adler, S. Eli Tsiyon. From Yamim Noraim Highlights – Days of Awe. Transcontinental Music Publications, 1995. Track 18.
Translations of Eli Tzion, Mi Ma’amakim and Zog Nit Keynmol: From Gates of Repentance, CCAR Publishers, ed. Chaim Stern.
Mi Ma’amakim. Performed by H. Kobilinsky.
Hayley Kobilinsky has served as Cantor of Congregation B’nai Yisrael of Armonk for nine years. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, where she teaches a workshop on music for the Three Festivals, and coaches for the Cantorial Certification Program.
Rob Schiller, a well-known American film and television director and president of R&B JAAMZS, Inc., has been appointed to the board of directors for the Jewish National Fund
(PRWeb November 20, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/11/prweb11352027.htm
At least twenty-eight countries have received the message of "555 Days of Prayer to Save America." Founding and planning partner of "Save America Gathering," "One Church //...
(PRWeb November 20, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/11/prweb11350754.htm
Along with calls for prayers for the tornado victims in 'Middle-America,' "Save America Gathering's" leadership asks all "555 Days of Prayer to Save America"...
(PRWeb November 19, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/11/prweb11347035.htm
'555 Days of Prayer to Save America" begins new 100-day prayer, Friday, November 15, 2013 while the current 100-Day prayer for the Church is to end at midnight. Pastors and priests of all...
(PRWeb November 14, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/11/prweb11327767.htm
With over 1,700 now believed to have been killed by the massive tropical cyclonic storm, the parent organization of "Save America Gathering," and co-planners of "555 Days of Prayer to...
(PRWeb November 13, 2013)
Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/11/prweb11326981.htm
The way we look at early childhood engagement is rapidly changing. In a recent JTA article titled, “Free tuition? Jewish preschool leaders say money’s not the problem,” URJ Faculty Member Cathy Rolland discusses the Reform Movement’s role in the evolving realm of early childhood education and the importance of building a collective voice in the Jewish world around early engagement issues.
The Union for Reform Judaism, in partnership with Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ), is leading the way in Jewish early childhood engagement. We continue to work hard to ensure the Reform Movement’s voice is heard in avenues around developing standards of excellence and being a leader in the recent conversation around Jewish Head Start, an initiative to provide subsidized full day Jewish Early Childhood.
The URJ’s commitment to providing quality early childhood programming is reflected in the sessions offered at next week’s URJ Biennial. Topics pertaining to early childhood education and early engagement will highlight the amazing work happening in the field. They will also including the sharing stories and best practices from congregations in our Communities of Practice, Pursuing Excellence Through Your Early Childhood Center and Successfully Engaging Young Families.
The following are just a few of the high-level learning sessions that relate to early childhood education and early engagement at Biennial:
- 21st Century Early Childhood Director: Powerful Tools and Critical Connections to Ensure Early Childhood Engagement Success!
- More than Just Preschool! An Opportunity to Transform Parents of Young Children into Synagogue Leaders!
- Beyond Google: Empowering Families with Young Children to Create a Continuum of Connection to the Jewish Community
- Baby Steps: Practical Strategies for Attracting Families with Young Children
- The Power of Working Together: Creating a Vibrant Congregation through Collaborative Professional Partnerships
For more information, visit urj.org/biennial. We look forward to the leading role the URJ and ECE-RJ will continue to play in raising the standards and expectations in the field of Jewish early childhood engagement.
Israel’s chief rabbis called on the public to say special prayers due to the lack of rain.Click here for the rest of the article...
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of a Minnesota rabbi who claimed he was cut from an airline’s frequent flier program for earning too many miles.Click here for the rest of the article...
A house dating to the Hasmonean period was uncovered in eastern Jerusalem near the Temple Mount.Click here for the rest of the article...
From Friday night song session to diverse, creative options for worship and learning, Shabbat at the URJ Biennial will feature something for everyone.
- Friday Night Shabbat Services
First bring a little bit of the Tel Aviv pier to San Diego and prepare for Shabbat with the innovative leaders of Beit Tefilah Israeli, who bring Kabbalat Shabbat music and engagement to Israelis. Led by Rabbi Esteban Gottfried, Atalya Lavie, Yotam Mahler, and Eitan Goffman of Beit Tefilah Israeli, Tel Aviv, Israel. Then Kabbalat Shabbat T’filah will be led by Rabbi Joel Sisenwine, Cantor Jodi Sufrin, Rabbi Rachel Saphire, and Noah Aronson of Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley, MA.
- Shabbat Dinner
This is Shabbat dinner like you’ve never experienced it before, with 5,000 other Biennial attendees! You will receive your dinner ticket and seating information at registration; on-site seating changes and questions about dinner can be handled at the Shabbat Dinner Information table in the Kikar Biennial – The Biennial Town Square.
- Friday Night Song Session
This Shabbat event is a Biennial favorite, featuring all your favorite music from camp and youth group – live! Encourage friends and family at home to watch the webcast at urj.org/biennial, and set your DVR to record the session on JLTV so you can relive the fun once the event has ended.
- Shabbat Morning
Start your day by choosing between Torah study led by world-class scholars or spiritual and inspiring p’sukei d’zimrah (morning blessings and psalms). Together we will joyfully accompany the Torah scrolls down to the plenary hall and convene as one community for the rest of Shabbat morning worship, a hallmark of the Biennial. Rabbi Rick Jacobs and Rabbi/Cantor Angela Buchdahl will lead the service, and we’ll hear commentary on the week’s Torah portion from Rabbi David Ellenson as we honor him on his retirement as President of HUC-JIR.There will also be four special aliyot for all NFTY alumni; Women of Reform Judaism members; URJ elected lay leadership and all congregational presidents; and HUC lay leaders, students, and alumni. If you fall into one of these categories, you will be invited up to one of many bimot scattered throughout the plenary hall.
- Shabbat Afternoon
Attendees may chose one of three Shabbat lunch tracks: traditional lunch and learn sessions with a marquee speaker; an off-site trip to a local attraction; or a URJ camp-style afternoon, featuring a range of arts and education options. These experiential opportunities include two blocks of formal workshop sessions or casual drop-in sessions.
Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein recalled the role of his rabbi and Jewish organizations in helping him realize he could succeed despite growing up in a working-class neighborhood.Click here for the rest of the article...
Israel’s chief rabbis said in a signed declaration that Jews are prohibited from visiting the Temple Mount.Click here for the rest of the article...
Born in 1920, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman embodied her mother’s musical talent and her father’s poetic soul and love of Yiddish. Emily Socolov remembers her mother-in-law.Click here for the rest of the article...
Israel’s Chief Rabbinate extended the time within which a couple can register its intention to marry from three months to one year.Click here for the rest of the article...