Being at the Biennial

The first thing you notice is that there are so many Jews! More than Temple HDD, more than camp, I think you’d have to be in Israel or at Yeshiva to be among such a dense Jewish population. But it’s not just the people – there’s the music, the exhibitors, the vendors, all the subjects being covered. It’s nice to be the majority in a public space. It’s a good energy.

The weather in San Diego is a welcome relief from our northeast cold, but I can’t say we’ve had much time to experience it. Other than the walk from the hotel to the conference center, the days start and end with prayer but in between its all education, with networking squeezed in at every chance. With approximately 100 sessions to chose from on a single day it was easier making college class registration choices. There is literally something for everyone – leadership, youth, educators, administrators, and spiritual interests. Most of the sessions are quite filled too.

Given the audience, as you’d expect there is no shortage of questions and audience participation. Attendees are very engaged and that creates energy in each session and makes the time fly by.

One of my favorite aspects are the central gathering areas, the exhibitor area and the Kikar Town Square. There must be over 200+ exhibitors showing everything from Judaica, to housewares, to technology for temples, and all sorts of service providers for temples. In the Kikar Town Square there is always a performance going on, either music or a comedy act or even a poetry reading. They have a music and book store. People gather in little clusters, kibitzing, or catching up on their email.
Because of the way the conference center is spread out, people are constantly going through these areas to get to the next session, so there is lots of hustle and bustle.

In the larger sessions, especially the plenary sessions in the evening the URJ takes care of business. Honoring leaders, keynote speakers, top Jewish musical talent, and other topics for the whole attending body to share in. After that wraps up at 9:30 PM then there are other even more activities late into the evening, so I’m told.

We come from all over the country. From small town congregations, like Vassar Temple, to large city congregations with over 1000 families. Our love of Judaism is a common bond which lets you strike up conversation with anyone.

And our hotel is rocking!

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