What can you do at Biennial?You can start your day with Shacharit, as Jeff Denaburg did on Thursday, or Jewish Yoga as Karen Minden did, or you can do as many Temple members did who have been to URJ Biennials and WRJ Assemblies before – meet up with friends for breakfast or a walk along the waterfront. That’s how President Harvey Schipper and I started our day – walking along the waterfront.At 8:30am the first set of 90 minute learning sessions began. At 10:30am you had another 20+ sessions to choose from before lunch. At any time of the day, if you did not feel like learning or sharing, there was always the option of shopping in the exhibit hall or Kikar Biennial, or meeting with URJ staff members representing the myriad of program areas they provide.
Lunch time – you can buy a light lunch from the snack bar in the giant San Diego convention centre, or participate in an organized lunch such as the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) lunch I attended where Ruth Calderon, Israeli Member of Knesset spoke.
The afternoon was similar to the morning, more learning and sharing and shmoozing. The program listed 40 pages of choices, just for one day. I managed to attend two more sessions before finally getting back to my hotel room, for a brief break before dinner with a cousin from Jerusalem, and another plenary session. Please check the URJ Biennial site for more information on the plenaries. Thursday night’s session included a keynote address by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the head of the URJ. He talked about what the movement has accomplished since the last Biennial two years ago, and the work still to be done. He spoke for over one hour! Yikes, lots to be done. He did mention the terrific work done in Toronto with the shinshinim program. We felt proud!
The night was still young, it was only 9:45pm, and the Biennial took to the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter, with 8 local bars andrestaurants hosting the Biennial Music Festival. We dropped in on a few of them, ending up at the ARZA Canada reception at one of the locations, where Mattan Klein and Beit tefillah Israeli performed. Some of the Beatles inspired prayers were the hits, as they were at Shacharit, at the start of the day.
I hope you will never think there is nothing to do at Biennial. The bigger challenge is fitting it all in!