Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is proud to have been a sponsor of the 2019 Union for Reform Judaism Biennial and to celebrate our vibrant partnership with the nearly 900 congregations of the Reform Movement. Thousands of Jews from across North America and around the world gathered to learn and pray, share ideas, reunite with old friends, and create new connections. HUC-JIR shared our mission with all those in attendance.
President Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., spoke at the opening Plenary session on December 11, 2019. During his address, he stated:
I am a Reform Jew because I treat reason, evidence, and science as coming from our preeminent human capability of rationality through which I am called to understand the world, including confronting our texts as human creations and struggling with the divine. I am a Reform Jew because I accept my responsibility to make binding moral decisions as a morally autonomous individual, guided by Rabbis of any gender identity and any sexual orientation who have followed a sacred calling to be my teachers, my pastors, and my guides. And I am a Reform Jew because I accept a commitment to our particular texts, our particular traditions, and our particular people—Torah, Avodah, and Yisrael— as a means to achieve justice in our world. For I recognize that being guided by and grounded in a particular community is necessary to pursuing our ultimate and our universal values of the Good, the Holy, the Right, and the Just.
I continue to be moved by the power of congregations to create safe and nurturing spaces to enable us to seriously engage with these ideas. And I believe congregations are vitally important even in these times of changes to provide a place for each of us to study our rich heritage of Jewish texts, pray together, celebrate holidays, mark the full spectrum of life’s experiences, and mobilize our communities to make the world a better, more sustainable place, bending the our world towards Justice. Join with me as we move forward in a new and dynamic direction, finding our own voices, going forth with optimism and confidence, inspiring our communities with ideas, leading with integrity, and strengthening our congregations and our broader Jewish Public Sphere.
For that is the work of Hebrew Union College. This is the work of our Reform Movement and the Jewish People. And together we will build a foundation of Goodness, Holiness, Righteousness, and Justice for all who inhabit the Earth.
Our faculty, administration, and students represented HUC-JIR in over twenty sessions, including the faculty-taught Biennial Beit Midrash and student- and alumni-led worship services. The Biennial Beit Midrash sessions received over 1,500 registrations. Explore our guide to HUC-JIR’s sessions at the Biennial here.
In addition to learning and prayer sessions, HUC-JIR hosted multiple gatherings: a welcome reception for students, faculty, and administration; a festive alumni reception with hundreds in attendance; and gatherings for Board members and for students.
Our booth in the Exhibit Hall featured new and informative material from academic programs and departments across our campuses. Staffed by the Office of Recruitment and Admissions, we engaged with hundreds of alumni, current and prospective students, and friends.
HUC-JIR’s photos from the Biennial can be viewed on our Instagram page (@hucjir) by clicking the URJ Biennial 2019 highlight.
It was a privilege to be part of this milestone gathering and collectively demonstrate the vitality of the Reform Movement.