Barak Day 1

Today was a full day at the Biennial.  I decided to skip services this morning, since we were up so late last night.  Did you notice the time of my post last night?  The morning started with a plenary session.  These sessions are a combination of music, speeches, awards, and business.  The session started with Julie Silver leading us in singing.  She is one of my favorite artists.  Next, Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the RAC, introduced house majority leader Eric Cantor.  Although the majority of the delegates don’t agree with Mr. Cantor politically, the speech was well received.  He stayed focused on international issues where there is more agreement.  Mr. Cantor stressed the need for continued support of Israel by the US government. not tolerating any form of antisemitism, and not letting our political differences get in the way of supporting Israel.

Next, Lynn Magid Lazar, the president of WRJ, presented Ambassador Nancy Brinker the Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award for Service to the World Community.  Ambassador Brinker is the founder and CEO of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Ambassador Brinker’s speech was moving and emotional.  It along with the other major speeches from the plenary session can be found on the URJ’s YouTube page.  I urge you to view these.  Next Rabbi Eric Yoffie presented another Bearer of Light award to Rabbi Richard Hirsch.    Rabbi Hirsch was honored for being the founding director of the RAC and for being the “architect” of Reform Zionism.  Rabbi Hirsch gave a moving speech.

Following the plenary session, I attended another learning session about how do we connect with our kids and bring the “camp” experience back into our congregation.  A number of ideas were presented to encourage getting more kids to the URJ camp programs as well as bringing the feeling of camp into our congregation.  The second learning session I attended today was a presentation on improving the content our temple web sites.  Stay tuned for some changes which may be coming to our web site.

In between the two learning sessions, was the kick-off on the Campaign for Youth Engagement (CYE).  Here is the description of the session.

We know that youth and families can find relevance, community, and purpose in our Reform Jewish communities. And yet, our synagogues lose connection to 80% of the children who become b’nei mitzvah. Join us as we stand together with leaders of the entire Reform Movement to reverse this trend by launching the Campaign for Youth Engagement, a Movement-wide strategic commitment to successfully engage in a majority of Reform Jewish youth by the year 2020.
Join the leadership of our Movement, including the URJ, ACC, CCAR, ECE-RJ, HUC-JIR, MRJ, NATA, NATE, NFTY, PARDes, and WRJ for this dynamic and interactive forum. Learn how to take action in your congregation and be part of this historic moment when we come together to commit to the Jewish future.

What we see at Vassar Temple is no different than many other congregations.  The Reform movement is committing to make a change.

Before dinner, we attended a very moving musical Ma’ariv service.  After dinner was another plenary session.  The session was opened by a male a capella group Six13.  The featured speaker at the plenary session this evening was the Isareli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.  Mr. Barak expressed the thanks of Israel to the Reform movement and the United States for their ongoing support of Israel.  He stressed that Iran must be prevented from gaining nuclear weapons, and that internally to Israel, the state must remain Jewish and democratic.  In addition to Mr. Barak, we heard from David Boies and Ted Olson.  They were also awarded teh Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award for their joint work in overturning proposition 8 in California.  The plenary session concluded with the passage of a number of resolutions.

We concluded our evening with a great concert featuring Michelle Citrin and Craig Taubman.

Watch out for tomorrow’s post when when it is “Barack Day 2”.

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1 Comment

  1. Cindy Philbin

     /  December 19, 2011

    I am so sad to her the news of Seth. I was a former teacher of Seth while he attended Niles West High School in Skokie. I have nothing but fond memories of him. He was a joy to be around. He filled the halls with laughter and joy. He will be missed greatly. Please let us know if there will be a service for him in the Skokie area. Cindy Philbin


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