We are pleased to report that our recent 20/20 Judaism RA-USCJ collaborative convention in Boston was a huge success. The energy over the course of the preceding Shabbat and then the conference itself was joyful, prayerful, and hopeful.
Over the course of 5 days, over 1,400 people participated in this gathering. It was a valuable experience for 200+ colleagues to gather with several hundred lay leaders and other members of the community. Moreover, the size of the conference not only added excitement, but also created the resources for a program of exceptional quality. Highlights included:
- A keynote presentation by Bari Weiss of The New York Times, in which she challenged us to combine our concern about antisemitism and physical security with a renewed focus on meaning and the "why" of being Jewish.
- A challenging plenary exchange between our colleagues Wesley Gardenswartz and Elliot Cosgrove, and Dr. Keren McGinity on working with interfaith couples and intermarriage, along with an important workshop for rabbis facilitated by our colleague Eric Woodward on expanding and deepening the scope of our acceptance of families who include people of other backgrounds.
- Additional plenary sessions on having difficult conversations and the need to invest in our youth experiences.
- An RA lunch and business meeting that included an interactive program led by Joey Weisenberg and Daniel Langenthal to help us cultivate leadership skills through musical exercises.
- Dozens of workshops and seminars, many led by our colleagues.
- A farewell tribute to our colleague Elliot Schoenberg for his 30 years of service to our RA.
- Ruah-filled musical experiences, including Shabbat Sovev (led by colleagues Adam Kligfeld, Hillary Chorny and Rebecca Schatz), dynamic Shabbat morning davening (led by our colleague Michael Ragozin, JTS rabbinical student Deborah Sacks Mintz, and others), and concerts featuring Joey Weisenberg, Deborah Sacks Mintz, and our colleague Josh Warshawsky.
We were also pleased that the importance of voting in the WZO elections was a major focus of the conference.
All of this can't begin to describe the experience of being together and celebrating and recommitting to our work of spreading our Torah in our current communities and beyond.
Please mark your calendars for our next RA Convention in St. Louis on November 15-18, 2020 and also our next movement-wide gathering in Toronto on December 10-14, 2021.
Finally, our deepest thanks to colleagues Dan Liben and David Ackerman, along with Max Arad in the RA office, and USCJ's Senior Director of Synagogue Leadership, our colleague Joshua Rabin, for their hard work as the RA partners in developing the convention.
This convention experience showed the power of one of Our RA's bold statements, Shutafut-Partnership. Bringing our two organizations was definitely a case of "1+1=3," and we are looking forward to future opportunities to develop the power of our partnership with USCJ and other movement organizations going forward!
Debra Newman Kamin and Jacob Blumenthal