President’s Post – November 2019

Do you URJ?

Eric Imley & Gale Swartz, Co-Presidents

What? Who? Might be the first questions you ask. The letters stand for the Union for Reform Judaism which encompasses almost 900 congregations across the U.S. and Canada. ‘OK, so what? What does that mean to me as a congregant?’ you ask. The URJ is much more than an association or group of congregations. The Union for Reform Judaism leads the largest and most diverse Jewish movement in North America. The URJ strengthens communities that connect people to Jewish life. Sounds like a lofty statement, but how do they (or we) walk that talk?

What are some of the benefits of belonging to URJ? TBE is able to participate in numerous Jewish programs and initiatives. There are many offerings to enrich our lives and help our community including young couples and families, empty-nesters, teens, activists, clergy, educators, lay leaders, spiritual seekers—to learn, grow and connect deeply to one another, our congregations and Jewish life in ways that are topical, relevant, nuanced, and deeply meaningful. Subscribe to ‘Ten Minutes of Torah’ newsletter. Enroll your kids or grand-kids in one of the 18 URJ summer camps.

The URJ hosts Biennial every two years, this year being held in Chicago on December 11–15, 2019. What on earth is a ‘Biennial’, and why should I think about participating? You will have an opportunity to join thousands of Jews from across North America and around the world to learn, pray, share ideas, dance and sing, hear from inspiring speakers and the leaders of our Movement, reunite with old friends, create new connections, and make decisions about the policies of the Reform Movement. There are learning intensives, which are multi-session learnings on topics such as: Leadership Development—of which our Governance work is just one part; Engagement—methods to continue to develop meaningful relationships; Social Justice, Moving into Action: Fulfilling Our Commitment to the Brit Olam. There are Biennial extensions covering Striving Towards Creativity and Collaboration: New Ideas in Jewish Education and Engagement, Gender and Justice in the Jewish Community, Your Voice in Israel: Mobilizing our Movement to Make an Impact, and Leading the Change: The Congregations of Tomorrow and so much more!

TBE has qualified as a Gold Delegation which affords us additional opportunities to learn and study together. Please consider joining Cantor Ilan, Rabbi Cassi, Gale and Eliot Swartz, Marla Shwarts, Andrea Lawrence, and Julie Cohen in Chicago and register today! Go to for general information including registration, check out the many offerings, or come see one of us to hear first- hand what an outstanding experience this is for all!