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Our President's Message

December 2015


What a wonderful experience the 2015 URJ Biennial was! Walking into a convention hall with 5,000 reformed Jews was somewhat intimidating at the beginning. Leaving at the end having made new friends – leaders at all levels, congregational leaders from all over the U.S, Canada, and the U.K. – left me energized. Reaching out your hand to say hello led to learning about each other and our commonalities.


When I entered into the sessions I had a few thoughts in mind, and when I exited I had a mind filled with facts and resources. To be perfectly honest, the end of each day found me mentally exhausted from the intense sessions and the range of emotions that ran through me. It was so exhilarating to be with that many all working to advance Jewish life for us and generations to come. Witnessing the high level of energy that youth from all over brought to the Biennial filled me with hope for a strong future. I had the opportunity to meet, greet, and talk with different leaders of our movement who were visibly and personally available.


The learning sessions were broken into three tracks:

  • Strengthening Congregations

  • Audacious Hospitality

  • Tikun O’lam


I chose to follow the Strengthening Congregation Tracks. Some of the sessions I attended were:

  • Boomer engagement

  • M U M report and understanding- how are financial responsibility is figured.

  • Clergy Contracts: Practical Considerations to Ensure a Sacred Partnership

  • Starting with the Ending: Design Thinking for Large Congregations.

  • Meet and Greet Schmooze with Congregation Presidents

  • What is the Future of Past Presidents


Had there been more congregants and leaders of all levels of our Temple attending we would have been able to cover more sessions.Not having more in our delegation was a shortcoming we should not suffer with again. This was an opportunity to become part of the answer to the frequently asked question: WHAT IS THE URJ DOING FOR ME?


What part will you take to make the congregation better, stronger and more vital moving forward?


Our new president will have an opportunity which I missed to participate in the Scheidt Meeting in the spring, spending time and sharing thoughts with presidents from all over the country. We must encourage and support this participation.


Our plenary sessions were filled with knowledge, music and engaging speakers and forums. The services I attended were spiritually lifting and left me feeling blessed and fulfilled. Shabbat services were incredible and having never witnessed services done in that manner, left me walking without touching the ground. Enjoying and praying with our Sisterhood members who participated in the WRJ conferences was an added treat.


My wish for congregants is that you take part in the future, gain the wealth and information that is available to us, and plan to be at the next Biennial in Boston in December 2017.


Thank You for the opportunity to serve.


Steve Lowe

President, Temple Shalom

Torah Restore  at Temple Shalom of Central Florida
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