Greetings from the URJ Biennial! (Well, from my hotel -- internet costs $25/day at the Biennial, darn it all.) This morning my mother graciously schlepped me the three hours to Houston; after lunching at Zula, near my hotel, we found our way to the George R. Brown Convention Center...which is enormous: the size of a city block and several stories tall. She dropped me off and I found my way to the third floor, where registration was in full swing. As I was standing in line to register, a man stopped me to admire my "I [heart] Elat Chayyim" pin and to ask where he could get one -- it made me happy to encounter another afficionado, though we didn't have time to chat. (I wish I'd thought to ask them for a whole bagfull to hand out here!)
I immediately ran into Diane, the cantor from Wisconsin who comes to CBI every year for the Days of Awe, and into Liz, the other delegate from CBI. (What were the odds? In a building containing five thousand people?) Liz and I walked a short while together through the big hall filled with merchants -- selling Judaica of every kind, tallitot and kippot, Hebrew-language software, books and CDs. There I ran into two folks from InterfaithFamily.com (one of whom was Edmund Case, the publisher, who I'd met at a reading in New York a few years ago). It made me happy to see them here, and I promised to return and talk with them more.
I chatted briefly with a few different soferim (Torah scribes), all three men with friendly eyes and long beards, and then walked by a booth showing a video about the soferet (female scribe) -- I think it was about Aviel Barclay! That felt neat, too -- like seeing a glimpse of an old friend across a crowded room, even though she and I haven't yet met in person. Anyway, I promised myself I'd return to the dealer's room later; there's a lot of shiny there, and something tells me I'll be leaving with a few new things in my bag.
After jotting down these notes, I started attending panels. Stay tuned for posts about those; thanks for accompanying me on this wild Biennial adventure.