Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Biennial?
The URJ Biennial is a gathering that is held in a different city every other year, where Reform Jews from across North America learn, pray, share ideas, and make decisions about the policies of the Reform Movement.
Who attends the Biennial?
The Biennial is for all Reform Jews from URJ affiliated congregations including lay leaders and professionals, youth, congregants, clergy, scholars, affiliates, exhibitors, entertainers and musicians. It is the largest Jewish gathering in North America, and brings together nearly 5,000 people from more than 500 congregations and 14 countries.
How do I get to the Biennial from the Airport?
This convenient new service will depart every twenty minutes from Gaylord National's front door to Reagan National Airport, and every twenty minutes from the Reagan National Airport baggage claim from 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Reservations are recommended, but tickets also will be available from the SuperShuttle desk, located on the lower level of the airport, near baggage claim.
$19 one way
$38 per person, round trip
$85 for exclusive van service, booked in advance
Local Reservations: (301) 965-2080
24 hr Reservations: 1-800-660-8000
Make Online Reservations
What should I bring?
Feel free to bring resources and materials from your congregation to share with others, including your newsletter, projects, etc.
What should I wear?
Biennial dress tends to be business casual with the exception of Shabbat, which is more formal.
Is the Biennial handicap accessible?
Yes. The hotel and convention center are fully accessible to individuals who are mobility impaired and scooter rentals are available onsite. Individuals who wish to rent a scooter will need to make their own arrangements.
What else is there to do at Biennial?
Activities include learning sessions, Shabbat worship, entertainment, shopping in our Exhibit Hall and book store, meetings, visioning luncheons, tours of the local area and more. This year, we will bid a fond farewell to outgoing URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie and Chairman of the Board Peter Weidhorn and introduce the President-elect, Rabbi Rick Jacobs and new Chairman, Steve Sacks. We will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and pay tribute to Debbie Friedman (z"l).
What are Biennial learning sessions?
There are dozens of learning sessions covering such topics as social justice, leadership development, membership and Outreach, Israel and more. Attendees may also visit the Reform Resource Mall and Learning Lounge to pick up URJ literature and speak with URJ specialists. Many attendees coordinate with their fellow congregants to ensure that they have representatives in as many different learning sessions as possible to bring a broad array of resources back to their congregations.
What is the Educational Summit: Youth Engagement?
This track within the Biennial is for congregational leaders devoted to education and concerned about the significant drop off rate of teens and their families after bar and bat mitzvah. Summit participants will also take part in some sessions of the Biennial, but in order to take advantage of these special sessions, you must be registered for the Summit. For more background on the Summit and the Campaign, read this issue of Torah at the Center.
When is the Biennial Choir rehearsing?
Tues., Dec. 13
2 - 5:30 PM Rehearsal
(Dinner on your own)
7 - 9:30 PM Rehearsal
Weds., Dec. 14
9 AM - 12:30 PM Rehearsal
Fri., Dec. 16
3:30 - 5 PM Sound Check and Rehearsal
Sat., Dec, 17
8 - 8:45 AM Final Rehearsal
9 - 9:30 AM Sound Check on "stage"
10 AM Shabbat Service
What if I want to stay in the hotel before or after the Biennial?
Discounted rates at the Gaylord National Hotel are available for three days before and three days after the convention (based on availability). November 14 update: Due to an overwhelming early response, please be aware that the URJ/WRJ contracted hotel rooms are sold out for Thursday and Friday nights. Please secure your hotel room BEFORE registering. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Can I bring a guest?
Immediate family members are welcome for Shabbat programs and must be registered as a guest. You should plan to register your guests when you register yourself. For security reasons, only registered attendees or registered guests will be allowed into Biennial events.
I haven't signed up yet, can I still register?
Biennial registration is now closed.
What if I discover that I can't attend after I register?
A refund, minus a $75 administrative charge, will be credited to those from whom a written cancellation is received prior to November 11, 2011. After November 11, 2011 there will be a 50 percent refund. Please note: All cancellation requests must be received in writing.
I can't make it to the Biennial, can I share the experience?
Yes! New for 2011, Shabbat evening and morning worship will be streamed live and excerpts of major presentations will be posted on the Biennial website.
How will the URJ make the Biennial "green"?
Check out the URJ Greening page for information on our greenest Biennial yet!
How can further questions be addressed?
Please email email@example.com or call the Biennial Hotline at 212.650.4271. Registration matters can be addressed directly to the registrar via firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.650.4180.