The month of Kislev is well- known to every Jewish child, for it is the month in which Chanukah occurs. (Don’t worry. It’s early this year, but not quite yet!) 

Chanukah is a fascinating holiday, for it celebrates a moment in Jewish history when the community was trying to define itself in the midst of crisis. Back then, the issues were the same as those highlighted by the Pew Research report, which I have spoken about here and on Erev Shabbat. Assimilation, acculturation, lack of “religious” identity…all were the questions with which Jews 2,200 years ago struggled.

There is both good news and bad news. The good news is that the North American Jewish community is not being threatened by a foreign army, intent on destroying us and subjugating us to a dictator’s whims. The bad news is the questions asked 2,200 years ago – the ones that are being asked today – are the result of an open society that is both blessing and curse, for we face the real possibility that liberal Judaism may become an irrelevant anachronism of American modernity.

If this concerns you and want to find the solutions that will sustain us through the 21st century, there is something you can do. Join me and our congregational leadership at the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial Convention in San Diego, December 11-15. The URJ is our “parent” body, the group that supports and leads the 875 Reform congregations in North America. (B’nai Jehudah is a founding member, going back to 1873


So, let’s get out of the way all the reasons NOT to go: a) it’s expensive; b) it’s just before winter break and I/we can’t be away that long; c) I/we can’t be away from work on Wed, Thurs, and Fri…and Sat and Sun aren’t worth my attending; d) I/we are not leaders of the Reform movement…why would I/we go?

All of those reasons are legitimate.

However, here is the one reason to go: If you are concerned about the future of Judaism in North America, and want to be part of the solution, you owe it to yourself to figure out a way to attend!

Here is what Rabbi Jacobs, president of the URJ, says about going: 

“In addition to…five terrific days of learning, praying, sharing, and singing…our gathering will provide opportunities for you to hear about our efforts to re-imagine Jewish life, including specific initiatives to engage the next generation, expand our reach and catalyze congregational change. Equally important, my colleagues, partners and I are anxious to hear from you about your hopes, dreams, and ideas for a future that excites and inspires. The upcoming Biennial will give us a not-to-be-missed chance to have such a conversation so that together, we can move forward to build a Jewish future that is bright and promising for all of our people…Indeed, I can think of no more holy endeavor [than] to engage with me and my team in this crucial undertaking.”

Rabbi Jacobs is right. It is an holy opportunity to be inspired – to be with 5,000 Reform Jews singing, praying, learning, celebrating. It is a not-to-be-missed chance to participate in the conversation that will determine the future of our 21st century Jewish community.

I hope you will consider coming with us to San Diego in December (during the Hebrew month of Kislev). You can learn more about it and register for it by CLICKING HERE. (If you want to attend, but need some financial help to do so, please contact me via email and I will see what I might be able to do to help). If you can/will attend, be sure to let me know. I want to take you out to dinner! 
Give the Jewish people an important Chanukah gift this year: attend the URJ Biennial!