Teen Experience at Biennial

Welcome to URJ Biennial 2019!

Teens will have the opportunity to attend all Biennial sessions, as well as choose special teen-only events and experiences. The Teen Experience at the Biennial is being created in partnership with teen attendees from past Biennials, ensuring that it directly reflects the wants and needs of our teen participants.


Who is the Teen Experience at Biennial for? 

The Teen Experience at the Biennial is appropriate for congregational teen leaders (temple youth group board members and others), NFTY regional board members, teens with leadership roles in Jewish youth programs, and aspiring leaders. Teens are invited to attend for the full Biennial experience, the Leadership Experience (Wednesday - Friday) or the Shabbat Experience (Friday - Sunday). 

What is the schedule for teens at Biennial? 

Each day will contain special optional teen-only events and experiences in addition to the full menu of Biennial learning sessions, plenaries, and receptions. Teens will be invited to exclusive receptions, will have the opportunity to network with their peers and congregational leaders alike, and have a special teen-only offsite experience. 

Why would a teen want to go to Biennial? 

The URJ Biennial brings together over 5000 Reform Jews from around the world. This is your opportunity to be in the “room where it happens” and sit beside leaders of our synagogues and communities, learn from the leaders of our movement, and share opinions and ideas on the future of Jewish life. All high school students are invited to participate fully in the conference, with additional optional activities for teens only. We want to hear the voice of all current and future Jewish leaders. High school students will be able to look through the full Biennial website and app to create their own itinerary of plenaries, workshops, musical moments, and meet-ups.

Are meals provided for teens? 

Meal packages vary based on your registration option

  • Wednesday-Friday registration includes coffee breaks throughout the program. Registrants also have the option of adding Shabbat dinner for a fee. 

  • Friday-Sunday registration includes Shabbat dinner, Shabbat lunch, a light breakfast on Saturday, and a Sunday departure brunch.  

  • Wednesday-Sunday registration includes coffee breaks, Shabbat dinner, Shabbat lunch, a light breakfast on Saturday, and a Sunday departure brunch. 

Like all Biennial delegates, teens will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own meals throughout the course of the event. We will facilitate connections with other teens for those mealtime experiences, but the URJ will not be providing meals beyond those included with regular Biennial registration. Our excellent location has a plethora of restaurants and meal options available within a 5-10 minute walk of McCormick Place. More details will be shared with those who register as the event grows closer. 

What are the housing options for high school students? 

High school students will have two options for housing: 

  • Stay with a parent/guardian or commute from the local area  

  • Reserve shared housing in the high school room block (4 teens per room)  

High school aged students are welcome to commute from the local area or stay in hotel rooms with parents/guardians who are Biennial participants. Please be aware, however, that if you are not registered in the high school room block, you will not be able to sleep in or visit those rooms. URJ and NFTY staff will not provide overnight supervision for high school students who are not staying in the high school room block. However, local teens and teens staying in their parent's room are welcome to join for any high school-only gatherings. Like those staying in the high school room block, teens must register as a Biennial participant and will be welcomed at all Biennial activities and expected to abide by the event’s code of conduct. 


High School students are invited to stay in the high school room block (for an additional fee). All participants in this room block will be roomed with other high school students and will be supervised by URJ staff while they enjoy the full Biennial experience. Our staff will check in with them throughout the day and ensure their health and safety during the program. In the weeks prior to the Biennial, we will share a schedule including times that high school participants will check in with URJ staff. 

Rooms are in quads (four to a room). Rates are $220 for Wednesday - Sunday or $125 for either Wednesday - Friday or Friday - Sunday.

Will there be supervision for the Teen Experience? 

While we are offering specific teen experiences throughout the Biennial, there is no separate teen track at the event. This is a multi-generational convention and those who attend are expected to adhere to standards of appropriate, legal, ethical behavior. Any attendee who does not adhere to these standards may be asked to leave the program. We will be in touch with parents or guardians in any case of a breach of these standards. 

We will offer supervision at specific teen-only events and within specific structures of the Teen Experience. For example, anyone in the Teen Experience Housing Block must agree to evening supervision including a curfew. By signing up for the high school room block, teens and their families agree to adhere to our Brit Kehillah and supervision standards. We will also offer supervision on the Teen Offsite Experience. 

All teens engaged in the Teen Experience will be assigned a mentor, a URJ staff person, who will help to guide them through the Biennial experience. These mentors will check in with teens regularly throughout each day via text, phone call, and periodic in-person check-ins, but will not physically be with them throughout much of the event. 

How much does it cost? 

Please see the pricing page for fees and hotel rates.