HaShofar Sep13 – Convention 2013: A Retrospective

Convention 2013: A Retrospective

This year’s Convention set a new record for attendance (over 520, with some from as far away as Argentina, Hungary, and Belgium), but it was not just numbers that made it exceptional.

This year’s Convention started off with a pre-opening evening at the legendary Fenway Park, where the downpour abated and the sun peeped through the clouds as though they had been parted by Moshe Rabbeinu… but it was not seeing the #1 Red Sox thrash #2 Tampa Bay – or Mike Mills’s smiling face on the huge Diamondvision screen – that made it exceptional.

This year’s Convention featured inspiring speakers such as Dr. Ron Wolfson; Rabbis Kerry Olitzky, Baruch HaLevy, Edward Feld, Gordon Tucker, Aubrey Glazer, Floriane Chinsky, and Harold Kushner; and of course Charles “Chuck” Simon… but it was not the wealth of rabbinic wisdom that made it exceptional.

This year’s Convention included a ruach-filled Hazzans’ Concert with Hazzanim David Propis, Steven Stoehr, George Mordecai, and Elias Rosemberg, and Hazzanot Alisa Pomerantz-Boro and Joanna Selznick Dulkin… but it was not the voices lifted in song and prayer that made it exceptional.

This year’s Convention featured traditional services, learners’ services, celebratory services, interpretive services, and meditative services – all different ways for us to have public and personal conversations with HaShem.  Several attendees even read Torah for the first time…but it was not the davening that made it exceptional.

There were power breakfasts and training sessions galore, and a Program Fair at which clubs showed off and shared their best efforts.  Clubs and individuals received awards – Quality Club Awards, Torch Awards, Ma’asim Tovim Awards, recognizing exceptional club activity, participation in broad-based initiatives, excellence in programming, and Regional service.  And Dr, Bob Braitman received the prestigious President’s Award for his manifold contributions to the FJMC and to the Conservative movement.  But the recognition and the information-sharing were not what made this Convention exceptional.

Not even the food – good as it was – made this Convention exceptional.  (Well, maybe a little.)

Don’t get me wrong: All of these things, by themselves, would make for an exceptional Convention.  Together, they are even greater than the sum of their parts.  But what made this Convention exceptional was the chemistry – the people power.  Men exchanging ideas.  Telling jokes.  Praying together.  Speaking their minds.  Seeing old friends… and making new friends.  To paraphrase that Home Depot ad, that’s the power of Convention.

And that’s why I plan to be back in two years… wherever Convention happens to be.

– Steve Krodman