Last week, I had the pleasure of working at a convention in the DC area. The URJ Biennial is a gathering of Reform Jews filled with learning, planning, singing, praying, and socializing. I’d been to Biennials before, but never as a staff member. This year, I went as a representative of my organization, an affiliate of the URJ, and spent much of my time working at our booth. I’ve grown up in the Reform Jewish community, not only through my synagogues, but also spending my summers at Eisner Camp, and interning at the Religious Action Center. It was an exhausting week, but I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. My organization hosted a photo contest and encouraged people to vote for their favorite photos. It was great to interact with people and tell them about the wonderful things we’re doing in Israel. I also got to spend quality time with co-workers from across the country who I don’t see on a regular basis. All in all, it was a fantastic week.
However, the most powerful moments were when all of the attendees and staff were gathered together in one big room. To look around and know everyone shares something in common is pretty cool, and all of those voices lifted together in song was nothing short of magical. There were some noteworthy speakers, including none other than President Barack Obama. Our Commander in Chief had clearly done his research, and his words electrified the crowd. I felt so lucky to be in the room when he spoke. We also had the pleasure of hearing from Dr. Wendy Mogel who shared her refreshing outlook on parenting and had us all laughing non-stop.
There are a few major takeaways from this week away. It’s so important to get out of the office sometimes, get to know your co-workers on a different level, and meet face-to-face with the people you work with and for. If you have the opportunity to trade ideas and business cards with the people in your industry, do it. We never stop learning. Don’t ever feel like you know everything you need to know, because it’s simply not true. Find a way to be part of a community. There is absolutely nothing like it. Be proud of who you are, and embrace your heritage. Realize that a strange eating schedule and lack of sleep are more than worth it every once in a while.
*In order to understand the title of this post, just look at the hotel’s website.