From My Seat at URJ’s Biennial Convention by Cantor Mary Rebecca Thomas

For five days every two years, thousands of Jewish professionals serving reform congregations and organizations, lay leaders, and congregants come together to learn, to pray, and to connect. We come together to learn about best practices and principles. We come together to hear how other synagogues struggle and succeed, that we may bear witness to their experiences and also to learn from and translate those lessons to Temple Beth El. We come together to stoke the embers of our passion for meaning making, spiritual growth, and working for justice.

This year, I’m here with 27 other representatives from Temple Beth El – Clergy, staff, and congregants. Our TBE team is presenting content as well as consuming content, signing books, and buying books. We are inspiring others and being inspired. It is truly a magical time.

Daryl Messinger, board chair of the Union for Reform Judaism just challenged the 5000+ attendees of the URJ’s Biennial convention to fill in the blank, “Because of this movement…” Here, in a moment of profound silence – 5000 people were absolutely silent – I could perceive the gratitude for Reform Judaism pour forth from every person in this convention hall.

Because of this movement, I know that Judaism matters. Because of this movement, I know that I am Jewish and that I am embraced. Because of this movement, I am a Jewish professional. Because of this movement, I know that I have a voice in this country – a voice for justice. Because of this movement, I know that I have a voice in Israel – for equality. Because of this movement, I know that I am a part of something much, much larger than myself. Because of this movement, I have a network of Jewish friends and colleagues across the country and across the globe. Because of this movement, I have developed a deep sense of belonging to the Jewish people. Because of this movement, I know that my children will have every opportunity to to know all of these things, too.

For more information on this year’s Biennial Convention and to stream content.

For more information on Reform Judaism.

 

 

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