URJ Biennial

What is the Biennial?

The URJ Biennial is the largest Jewish gathering in North America.  The Biennial will bring together 5,000 Reform leaders, including lay leaders, professionals, clergy, and youth leaders representing 1.5 million North American Reform Jews.  Together, we’ll learn, pray, share ideas, network, celebrate, and make decisions about the future of Reform Jewish life.  We’ll return to Temple Beth Sholom armed with new resources and ideas, as well as with the enthusiasm and know-how to put them to use to strengthen and enrich our spiritual home.

What happens at Biennial?

  • Networking, learning, and sharing with other congregational leaders
  • Plenaries and breakout sessions featuring renowned speakers
  • Important discussions and debates about today’s critical issues and the direction of Reform Judaism
  • World-class Jewish music and entertainment
  • Inspiring worship
  • Amazing shopping in the Biennial Exhibit Hall
  • …and so much more!

What’s in it for Temple Beth Sholom?

  • Programming tailored to us: Sessions cover a wide range of topics, offering how-tos and hands-on learning for all facets of congregational life – from membership and outreach to leadership development, from social justice to social media, and everything in between.
  • Five intensive “tracks”: These tracks will focus on the core congregational priorities of Strengthening Congregations, Tikkun Olam (social action), Audacious Hospitality, Youth Engagement, and Transforming Texts. We can customize our Biennial experience based on our specific needs.
  • Leadership development: Biennial is a great, cost-effective way to gain knowledge, skills, and leadership training, and to network with our peers from other congregations. Many synagogues use the Biennial as the perfect opportunity for a leadership/board retreat.
  • Strengthening our relationships: The shared experience of Biennial offers a rare opportunity to strengthen our bonds with each other as members of one temple family.
  • A Jewish pick-me-up: We’ll return home spiritually refreshed, more deeply connected to our Reform Movement, and full of new and creative ideas to try in our congregation.

How do we sign up?

You can find lots of information and register right now at urj.org/biennial.  If you register by October 10, you’ll get the best pricing AND will help Temple Beth Sholom reach the desired number of delegates (35) to attain Platinum Status.

If you are interested in attending the Biennial or have any questions, please contact Jose Benrey (jbenrey@att.net) as soon as possible.  Let’s send a strong delegation to Boston this December, and we will return even stronger!

FAQ’s: Biennial Basics

Who should attend the URJ Biennial?

Biennial has something for everyone!  While much of our workshop programming is designed for congregational leaders, plenary sessions energize and inspire all attendees to repair our world, contribute to the continuing evolution of our Movement, and define 21st century Jewish thought.  Participants will learn from the highest caliber speakers, including eminent scholars, HUC-JIR faculty, and elected officials.  Additionally, Shabbat is an experience unlike any other, as we come together to create the largest synagogue in the world.

What are the dates of the URJ Biennial?

The Biennial program begins at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, December 6, and formal programming concludes at 11:00 AM on Sunday, December 10.  NOTE: The Sunday morning service is being led by our own Cantor Lisa Segal.

New this year: a community-wide concert at 2:00 pm on Sunday, December 10 which will be open to all Biennial attendees and the Boston Jewish community.

On Wednesday, December 6, prior to the start of the Biennial, there will be a series of offsite programs through the Boston community in which registrants are encouraged to participate.  These trips, which are available for purchase in registration, will include tours of Mayyim Hayyim, the Kennedy Library, and Boston’s West End.

Where is the URJ Biennial located?

The URJ Biennial is located at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA.  Room blocks are available at three area hotels that all provide indoor and easy access to the Convention Center.  Temple Beth Sholom requests their delegates to register at the Sheraton so all members are together.  Once you have completed registration you will be provided a link to complete your hotel booking.  The URJ offers the guaranteed lowest rate on rooms in the three contracted hotels.  The only way to take advantage of the rates is to book through the links provided in your registration confirmation email.

Will I be able to access the program on my smartphone or tablet?

Yes, a Biennial app will be available 2-3 weeks before the start of the program.  The app will contain schedules, maps, program descriptions, and more.  Additionally, attendees will receive a printed program book at onsite registration.

What is the recommended attire?

Any Biennial veteran will recommend a nice comfortable pair of shoes.  Most attendees dress “business casual” except on Shabbat, when most dress in “Shabbat attire” (a jacket and tie are the norm for men and nice slacks/skirts/dresses are the norm for women).  It is also a good idea to have a sweater or light jacket on hand.

FAQ’s: Hotel and Travel

 How do I make a hotel reservation?

After completing your online registration for Biennial your confirmation email will include a link to make a hotel reservation at one of the three official hotels (please register at the Sheraton if possible).  Hotel prices are guaranteed to be the lowest available.  Please note: a deposit equivalent to one night’s stay is required to reserve a hotel room.

What is the URJ Biennial hotel cancellation policy?

All Biennial hotels require cancellation at least 72 hours prior to your arrival.

Why do I have to pay a fee for not staying in one of the approved URJ Hotels?

There are three official Biennial hotels:

Sheraton Boston (TBS PREFERED HOTEL)
$210+tax per night
39 Dalton St, Boston, MA 02199
Phone: (617) 236-2000

Marriott Copley
$220+ tax per night
Copley Place, 110 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (617) 236-5800

Westin Copley
$220+tax per night
10 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (617) 262-9600

Biennial pricing is based on a number of factors including the number of hotel rooms filled at the official Biennial hotels.  To keep registration costs down, it is important for attendees to stay at one of the Biennial hotels.

In recent years, an increasing number of attendees have chosen to stay at non-Biennial hotels, which impacts agreements with contracted hotels and raises registration fees; therefore, the URJ has instituted a policy, like many major conferences, where attendees staying at the hotel save $200 over attendees staying elsewhere.  Attendees who do not book a hotel room at one of the Biennial hotels will be charged an additional $200 registration fee on or after December 15, 2017.  The deadline to book a hotel reservation is November 13, 2017.  If attendees book housing in the official URJ Biennial housing block and later cancel their reservation, the additional $200 registration fee will be automatically charged (for registrants attending only Wednesday-Friday or Friday-Sunday, the additional fee for not registering in the housing block will be $100).

Do I have to go outside to walk from the hotel to the meeting rooms?

No. The Biennial hotels are all connected to the Convention Center via an indoor shopping center.

What is the recommended arrival airport?

Boston’s Logan International Airport is located less than 5 miles from the Hynes Convention Center.

How do I get from the airport to the hotel?

Depending on traffic, the drive between the airport and hotels may take 25-40 minutes.  Boston Logan Airport is served by taxis ($40), ride-sharing services ($30), and several public transportation options.

When should I book my return flight?

It is recommended that you book return flights after 2 PM on Sunday, December 10.  The Sunday morning service is being led by our own Cantor Lisa Segal.  The program will formally conclude at 11:00 AM on Sunday.

FAQ’s: Biennial Registration Cost

(TRAVEL WITH THE TBS CLERGY & STAFF YOU MUST REGISTER BY OCT 1, 2017. General Registration Closes November 20.)