Not in order of importance… (cross posted on CCAR Convention Blog)
1. Six separate planned experiences of meeting with and conversing 1-to-1 (or in small groups) over important topics: visioning for the reform movement, creating new path for youth engagement, rabbis as techies, interfaith study of difficult texts with non-Jewish clergy, exploring real community and sharing what we would change about our URJ/CCAR/HUC.
2. I met, spoke with and learned from more colleagues than at any previous convention: younger colleagues (esp about deepening tech in the congregation), veteran colleagues (esp about how to keep it fresh as I begin my second 18 years), Twitter buddies (with whom I have tweeted for a year but never met), others (best practices and reaching out to interfaith couples and families).
3. Jazz. So many varieties, so many settings. I found myself, a serious person often, just sitting and smiling. National Parks Service has an amazing New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park with excellent ranger led/sung presentations about development of jazz. Snug Harbor offered intimate wonderful show, as did Preservation Hall. Maison Bourbon and others kept me toe tapping, late nite staying out, and amazed at rich jazz traditions.
4. Time with my wife to learn together, talk, walk, worship hand in hand, revel in friendships and our friendship.
5. The level of tech in the convention was impressive. Light years over last year. Bravo to CCAR technology production manager Dan Medwin and the whole CCAR staff for this leap. Showed some best practices in praxis. Plus the tweeting (#CCAR11) of the sessions allowed me to virtually attend those I could not physically get to. And catch the coolness (an usefulness) of the CCAR NOLA app!
6. Rabbis Michael White, Laura Novak Winer, Eric Yoffie and NFTY advisor Kiki Kamenetz inspired me – really moved me – to rethink youth engagement holistically. Can’t wait to talk to youth advisor, rabbinic intern/educator an lay leaders about the inspiration.
7. I felt reached out to, heard, befriended. Of course, being older and more secure may have spurred me to be more open.
8. Continued to revel, by comparison, about my Congregation Or Ami (Calabasas, CA), a healthy, musical, non-dysfunctional, forward thinking, tech-enlightened, partner-filled community, led by talented, non-egocentric leaders. I am so blessed to be part of them.
9. Great music at convention: Jewish Panorama Jazz Band, Shades (New Orleans Interracial Gospel Choir), others. Showed how the arts can bring Jewish experience to new heights.
10. Worship that inspired me, allowing me moments of transcendence and immanence, to converse with the Source of All.
11. A program committee which wove Torah learning, community engagement, and practical rabbinics with small group interactions, fabulous speakers (Peter Beinart and Ammi Hirsch, Peter Block), music and few talking heads. I tip my kippah to you.
Bravo also to the whole CCAR national staff for listening, supporting, and challenging us all.
More to write and process and think about and meditate upon and ask more about… But that’s for later.