Friday, December 13, 2013

Day Two Blogging the URJ Convention

Day Two URJ Biennial 
There are times when strolling through the halls and enormous exhibition hall  can lead one to as much knowledge then the workshops. After we posed for our outreach award with Rabbi Jacobs (Marcia Frezza, Mike Weingarten and myself) we scattered like the rest of our delegation to the many activities. 
My first event was sitting down at the booth of the National Association of Temple Administrators. I spoke with two administrators from congregations. I told them about our growing congregation and how much of a challenge it is today to manage in a professional manner all the different events that go on at Bet Yam. We discussed a variety of staffing options that congregations our size are going with to meet the demands on a temples like ours.
I should say that one of the risks of this kind of strategy of learning by visiting different booths is who you run into. It could be a cherished colleague or volunteer temple leader from a prior congregation. Suddenly you are immersed in a conversation with someone whom you have not seen in years. This all happens when you are in the midst of having a serious discussion on the topic where you have stopped by to discuss with the person in the booth.  That is just called the URJ family and it happens at any  minute during this convention.
I also spent quite a bit of time talking to several music specialists in the field. Since we intend on hiring a student cantor through the Hebrew Union College interview process, I posed  questions about our music program and what are the best options to get the right kind of person for our congregation given the financial parameters. Many congregations must also learn to be creative with finding the right person as well. They too must deal with some of the same financial realities as well as programmatic challenges.  We definitely want to go through the interview process to bring a student cantor to Beth Yam. We will, on the other hand, have to be prepared to  look at other viable options to find that special person who will be a good fit for our congregation should we not succeed at finding an HUC student cantor.
I want to make mention of an incredibly important project and celebration from the Women of Reform Judaism. They are celebrating their 100th anniversary . Our past president Helen Hauer who is part of our delegation is very involved in this project. The anniversary book contains an amazing pictorial history of Sisterhood since 1913. This history teaches the critical role Sisterhood has played in the history of Reform Judaism. Kudos to Helen. Also inside the book there is a special tribute page called Unsung Heroines. It is a national program recognizing and nominating women who " made substantial volunteer contributions to a WRJ Sisterhood." We are honored again that our member Nadyne Ulicny was bestowed this great honor by WRJ. Another example of how our members distinguish themselves. Mazal Tov Nadyne.

Finally Rabbi Jacobs gave his big and long (almost 2 hours) speech regarding his  vision of Reform Judaism and the program plan of the URJ. I'll speak to this in a separate blog. Afterwards five thousand Reform Jews circulated throughout San Diego's gas light district of clubs where URJ artists performed. What a great way to end the evening. 

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