Important Resources

Web: www.urj.org/biennial
Biennial Hotline (for general questions): (212) 650-4271
Biennial Registration Hotline (for registration related questions): 212-650-4180

General questions about the Biennial

Dates: December 11-15, 2013
Location: The San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA
Duration: The official Biennial program begins at 1:00 pm on Wednesday, December 11 and concludes at 10:30 am on Sunday, December 15.

What is the Biennial?

The URJ Biennial is the place for Jews from across North America to come together to learn, pray, share ideas, dance and sing, hear from inspiring guest speakers, reunite with old friends, create new connections, and make decisions about the policies of the Reform Movement.

Who Attends the Biennial?

The Biennial is for everyone – lay leaders and professionals from Reform congregations, youth, college students, congregants, future and new leaders, clergy, scholars, affiliates, vendors, entertainers, musicians, and more. It is the largest Jewish religious gathering in North America and brings together nearly 5,000 people from nearly 500 congregations and 14 countries.

What Should I Expect to Learn?

The Biennial offers a wide variety of learning opportunities. Between the 120+ learning sessions, the Reform Resource Mall, the URJ Consultation Area, and our first-ever Kikar: Biennial Town Square, attendees will not only be exposed to happenings in our congregations and in the greater Jewish community, but they will be able to share their knowledge with others to make learning at the Biennial an interactive experience.

What Will I Do There?

There are activities and events planned for every day of the Biennial. Learning sessions, daily and Shabbat worship services, musical and other forms of entertainment, shopping in the Exhibit Hall, meetings, and networking sessions are some of the many opportunities and events available to attendees.

What Should I Wear?

Any Biennial veteran will recommend a nice comfortable pair of shoes. Most attendees dress in "business casual" attire except on Shabbat, when most people 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.

Will there be WiFi availabile in the convention center?

Complementary WiFi will be available in the Kikar.

Hotel & Travel

Comprehensive information available on the Biennial Hotel & Travel page.

Accessibility and Mobility

Is the Biennial handicap accessible?
Yes, the San Diego Convention Center is handicap accessible. Learn more about accessibility here.

Do I have to go outside to walk from the hotel to the convention center?
Yes, the convention center is a short walk from the Marriott or the Hyatt. Shuttle buses will also run from the convention hotels to the convention center at regular intervals all day.

Biennial Shuttle

There will be shuttle bus service available for travel between hotels, the convention center, and the Gaslamp Quarter. Wheelchair accessible buses will be labeled accordingly. The frequency of the shuttles will vary with time of day and conference demand. The shuttle schedule is as follows:

The stops on the shuttle route are as follows (in order):

  1. Hard Rock Hotel – Omni front entrance
  2. Manchester Grand Hyatt – Curbside on Harbor Dr.
  3. Marriott Marquis – Tour bus stop at waterfall
  4. Gaslamp Stop – 5th Ave. and Market St.
  5. Gaslamp Stop – 5th Ave. and F St.

A map of the Biennial shuttle route is available on the Biennial App and here on the Biennial Website. The numbered stops above correspond with the numbers on the map.

Host Congregations and Volunteers

Hundreds of dedicated volunteers from local congregations in the greater San Diego area are hard at work preparing to welcome us to their city. They will be with us throughout the convention to make your stay as comfortable and convenient as possible.

Gaslamp Quarter

The Gaslamp Quarter, across the street from the convention center and within walking distance from the hotels, offers many dining and shopping options: a list of restaurants and stores can be found at www.sandiego.org/discover/gaslamp-quarter.

Schedule

The complete and searchable biennial schedule is available online. We've also provided print-friendly PDFs of all Learning Sessions and a quick reference Schedule Summary.

Concurrent Programming

NFTY at Biennial

For information and to register for the NFTY program at Biennial, visit www.nfty.org/biennial.

WRJ Assembly

For information and to register for the WRJ Assembly, visit www.wrj.org/Centennial.

Child Care

Will the URJ be providing child care?

No, the URJ will not be providing child care at this Biennial; however, information regarding local child care providers attendees can hire on an individual basis will be available from the concierge in each hotel.

Financial Assistance

Is financial assistance available?

The Small Congregations Resource Fund (SCRF) has a limited number of grant subsidies available for small congregations (those with 250 households or fewer) who would like to send delegates to the Biennial. A maximum of two grants, up to $250 each, will be awarded to a congregation. The application and FAQ sheet can be downloaded at urj.org/cong/small. Grants will be awarded on a first come-first served basis. For additional information on SCRF grants, please contact Merry Lugasy at mlugasy@urj.org or 212-452-6742.

Are any expenses tax deductible?

Expenses incurred by synagogue leaders who attend the Biennial as designated delegates of their congregations can be claimed as tax deductible charitable contributions. Such expenses include registration, transportation, lodging, food, etc. Along with original receipts, such claims should be substantiated with a letter from the synagogue president stating that the synagogue leader attended as a designated delegate on behalf of the congregation. Please consult your tax advisor regarding the specifics of your situation. Canadian residents should consult their local tax advisors regarding tax deductible expenses, as different laws may apply.

Registration and Fees

Who can register and how does one register?

Anyone can register for the 2013 Biennial. Only designated delegates from URJ congregations may vote. Please note: members of suspended URJ congregations are not allowed to vote but may register for the Biennial at the non-URJ congregation price.

Is paper registration an option?

We prefer and encourage all interested registrants to complete their registration online – click the 'Register' button on the Biennial homepage. If you have questions about registration, please contact Biennial Registrar, Robin Riback, at (212) 650-4180 or registrar@urj.org.

What are the different registration options?

Please visit the registration page for comprehensive pricing details and options.

What does the registration fee include?

(If you register under the Wednesday-Friday option or the One Day registration, your registration only includes events taking place on those days and does not include Shabbat programming.)

Cancellation

What is the cancellation policy?

A refund, minus a $75 administrative fee, will be sent by check to those from whom a written cancellation is received prior to November 13, 2013. For any cancellations made after November 13, 2013, we will refund 50% of the total registration. Please note: No refunds will be given for people attending Shabbat ONLY if they cancel less than a week before Dec. 13, 2013 since dinner will have already been ordered for those registrants.

Guests of Delegates

How can I bring a guest?

Immediate family members are welcome for Shabbat programs and must be registered as guests. When you register online, there is an option to add a guest(s) – this is the only way to register guests. For security reasons, only registered attendees or registered guests will be allowed into convention events.

What are the Shabbat guest prices?

Biennial attendees can purchase a Full Shabbat Package or Friday Night Only Package for up to four members of their immediate family. The Friday Night Only Package includes services, dinner, and song session. The Full Shabbat Package includes the Friday night events plus Shabbat Torah study breakfast, Shabbat study luncheons, Shabbat afternoon programs and the Saturday evening program.

Adult Guest Friday Night Only: $95
Child Guest Friday Night Only (ages 3–12): $50
Adult Guest Full Shabbat Package: $250
Child Guest Full Shabbat Package (ages 3–12): $95

Resolutions and Voting Delegates

Resolution and voting delegate information was sent to synagogue presidents, rabbis and other congregational leadership as part of the Call to Biennial. To receive a copy of this, contact Don Jones at djones@urj.org or (212) 650-4220. Congregants who are in the process of submitting resolutions and have questions should contact Rachel Laser at rlaser@rac.org or (202) 387-2800. Voting delegates will be assigned in November. A list of registrants from every URJ congregation will be sent to the president of the congregation to designate voting delegates and alternates. Suspended congregations may not vote and must pay the non-URJ congregation registration fee ($995).

New for 2013

Kikar Biennial: The Biennial Town Square
Kikar Biennial is the Biennial Town Square – a central meeting place and a main hub of activity for the Biennial. Come to the Kikar Biennial to listen to live music, engage in hands-on, formal, and informal learning opportunities, and shop at the URJ Books and Music store. Drop in any time to grab a quick bite or a cup of coffee, meet up with friends, consult with colleagues, check your email, recharge your phone, or simply relax for a few minutes between sessions in a comfortable space. See the complete schedule.

Intensives

These in-depth training and learning courses are designed to give you tangible take-aways to bring back to your congregation and an opportunity to enrich your personal skills and knowledge. Sessions will include professionals from the Shalom Hartman Institute, customer service mavens from Zingerman’s Deli, the Mussar Institute, and more. See the complete schedule.

Biennial Music Festival

On Thursday night at 9:45 pm experience an evening of entertainment in various venues in San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter. Stay to hear one artist or stroll the street to experience multiple world-class concerts from Rick Recht, Rocky Mountain Jewgrass, Mattan Klein, and others.

Rabbi Jacobs Speaks on Thursday Night

Rabbi Jacobs will lay out his priorities for the future of the Reform Movement during the Thursday night program enabling attendees to attend de-briefing sessions on Friday morning and have their voices heard as Rabbi Jacobs sets the agenda for the next two years.

Shabbat Morning

On Saturday morning, we will meet in intimate gatherings (choose one of the Torah Study sessions or other spiritual offerings) before joining together for worship led by URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs and the inspirational Cantor Angela Buchdahl from Central Synagogue in New York. Retiring HUC President Rabbi David Ellenson will be our teacher of Torah, and we also will celebrate WRJ's 100th anniversary.

More Joint Programming with WRJ

Many of WRJ's programs will be held at the San Diego Convention Center this year which gives URJ attendees the opportunity to go to WRJ programming and vice versa. Please be aware that you must be pre-registered if an additional meal is involved.