January 16 to be a Super Sunday of Torah World at OU National Convention

14 Dec 2010


The Superbowl will not be played until Sunday, February 6, but those interested in Torah Life, Community Life and Synagogue Life, and hearing from distinguished rabbis and other experts, will have a Super Sunday of their own a few weeks earlier, when the Orthodox Union holds its ‘One Day Conference on Jewish Life’on Sunday, January 16 as part of OU2011 – the OU National Convention.

The Convention will be held at The Hilton in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

No Superbowl trophy will be awarded, but online registrants for the OU Convention (www.OU.org/Convention) will be entered for a raffle to win a “ShasPad” – that is, a limited edition 64GB iPad (WiFi & 3G) preloaded with OU audio and video shiurim, including the world’s most listened to Daf Yomi, with Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of OU Kosher.

“The Convention sessions clearly reflect the character of our organization, presenting all the facets of synagogue life and a huge array of vital issues that impact on the Orthodox community,” declared Rabbi Steven Weil, OU Executive Vice President.

Following a resolutions session at which each Orthodox Union member synagogue, depending on its size, can send from two to eight delegates to set the direction of the OU for the next two years, the Convention will be divided into three tracks and two plenaries from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Participants will be able to choose five sessions from among more than 25 possibilities as follows:

• “Torah Life: Shiurim and classes on topics that will stimulate your thinking,” with presentations by Rabbi Moshe Elefant and Rav Hershel Schachter of the OU; Dr. Shira Weiss, Rebbetzin Yael Weil, Rebbetzin Rookie Billet, Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman, Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman, Rabbi Dovid Fohrman; OU Chairman of the Board Harvey Blitz with panelists Jerry Silverman and Rabbi Herschel Billet; and Rabbi Shaul Robinson.

Sessions in this track will include: Daf Yomi (Elefant), “Personal Autonomy vs. Religious Authority (Weiss),” “How Perfect Must a Woman Be? (Weil), ” “Dating and Mating (R. Billet),” “Halacha Under the Microscope (Reichman),” What is a Heter? (Schachter),” Costs of Free Speech on the Internet (Feldman), Divine Communication (Fohrman), Conversion Controversy in Israel (Blitz, et.al), More Meaningful Tefillot (Robinson).

• “Community Life: Presentations of the OU’s Signature Programming,” with sessions led by OU staff and experts on: Special Needs Children (Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman of Yachad with Yachad parents); Food, Body Image and Eating Disorders (Frank Buchweitz of Community Services plus Dr. Sarah Roer and Dr. Ellen Haimoff); Orthodox Students on Secular Campuses (Rabbi Ilan Haber, Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus); Positive Jewish Marriage (Rachel Pill); Positive Jewish Parenting (Drs. Sylvan and Marcy Schaffer); Contemporary Issues in Kashrut (Rabbis Menachem Genack and Moshe Elefant of OU Kosher); Political Advocacy (Nathan Diament, Howie Beigelman and Maury Litwack, Institute of Public Affairs); Spirituality and the next Generation (Charles Harary representing NCSY).

• “Synagogue Life, high-level workshops for synagogue lay and professional leaders” on: youth programming; sparking shul growth (Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn); theories and practices for synagogue leadership; synagogue strategic planning (Dr. Linda Klonsky); fundraising (Rabbis Steven Weil and Bunny Friedman); the halachic role of gabbaim (Rav Schachter); enhancing spirituality through the musical Mesorah (Chazanim Bernard Beer and Sherwood Goffin); and a panel of synagogue presidents on taking a shul from “good to great.”

Two major topics will be addressed in the plenary sessions:

• The Mesorah: What is the Mesorah? Can it be changed? How does change happen? with Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb;

• The Orthodox Role in the Jewish Community of Tomorrow, a panel anchored by Rabbi Weil, with panelists including Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY; Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of Boca Raton, FL; Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, of Yeshiva University; Jerry Silverman, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America; and Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike, Dean, Lander College for Women.

Sunday will also feature a new departure in Orthodox Union Conventions, the OU Listening Room, in which convention participants will be able to sit down with two OU officers to speak their minds about the OU, its programs and policies. “We’ll listen, we won’t argue, we want to hear what convention participants have to tell us,” declared OU President Stephen J. Savitsky. “These comments will be forwarded on to the new leadership, which together with the resolutions passed Sunday morning, will guide them in their actions for the next two years.”

The Convention will bring to a close the six-year OU presidency of Stephen J. Savitsky, with the installation of his successor. An announcement will be made prior to the Convention of who will follow Mr. Savitsky as the chief lay leader of the OU. The entire slate of OU Officers and Board members will be elected at the Convention. It will also be the first Convention at which Rabbi Weil is Executive Vice President. Both he and Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, now Executive Vice President, Emeritus, will play leading roles in the programming and learning sessions.

The Convention will conclude with a gala dinner at which the OU’s new leadership will be installed.

For further information, including costs, and to register for the Convention, go to www.ou.org/convention or Frank Buchweitz, Convention Co-Director, at frank@ou.org, or 212-613-8188.

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