The Jewish and cinematic musings of the Rabbi of The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
URJ Biennal URJ Update
"It never hurts to begin a speech by studying the Torah portion." This was part of of President's Obama speech to the nearly 6,000 in attendance at URJ's Biennial just outside of Washington D.C. It all started as people began to line up at 10am for a 3pm speech. They all wanted to make sure they had a good seat.
Politics aside, there were many just so excited to be in the same room as a sitting president. And President Obama certainly delivered. This was also the first time a sitting president has spoken at a URJ Biennial. During his speech President Obama referred to not only his similar passions to those taken by the Reform movement including a woman's right to choose, rights for the LBGT community, and economic opportunities; the crux of his speech focused on Israel. The president stated, "America's commitment and my commitment to Israel and Israel's security is unshakeable." The president then went on to say, "No administration has done more to support Israel's security than ours."
For many, even though we prayed together Friday evening with over 5,000 people in attendance, and that we may have broken a Guinness Book World record with the largest single gathering of Reform Jews for a dinner, the highlight still in many hearts was this chance to hear from their President.
And this is the power of the Reform Movement. Of course much credit goes to the Religious Action Center, the political arm of the Reform movement that has and continues to be at at the forefront of so many important issues facing our country today. It is also the power of 1.5 million well educated and informed Reform Jewish voters. It is also the power of committed lay leaders, educators, cantors, rabbis and active congregants.
So whether you agree or disagree with the President, it is still pretty amazing that he came to spend an hour of his time with us, and that we all wanted to give up so many of our hours to be with him.
Rabbi Sharff is the Senior Rabbi for The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York. He was raised in Houston, Texas where he discovered the acoustic and electric guitar while sitting in his dorm room one day. Rabbi Sharff graduated from the University of Texas and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
Rabbi Sharff is the rhythm guitarist for RTR's in House Band, and he also served as the editor for Howard Salmon's z"l Comic Book Siddur.