Tuesday is our Gender Identity meeting, about how gender is not a binary matter. We are starting at 7pm sharp, so come at 6:30 or 6:45. To tease your interest, we went looking for stories of non-binary or gender-fluid individuals. We came across the story of Rabbi Denise Leese Eger who is not (as far as we know) non-binary or gender-fluid. She is lesbian, and was the first openly lesbian President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). But we decided to tell her story - read on and you will see why!
Rabbi Eger was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised by Jewish parents in Memphis, Tennessee. She studied religion at USC and graduated from there in 1982. After earning a master’s degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1985, Rabbi Eger went on to study for the rabbinate. In 1985-86, as part of her studies, Denise Eger interned at Temple Ahavat Shalom under Rabbi Kleinman.
When Rabbi Eger was ordained in 1988, she was not totally out of the closet but her sexual orientation was known, and the only congregation that would hire her was an LGBT congregation in Los Angeles, Beth Chayim Chadshim, the world's first gay and lesbian synagogue recognized by Reform Judaism. Because of the advocacy of Rabbi Eger and others, in 1990 the CCAR voted to welcome openly gay and lesbian individuals to the rabbinate, a decision that opened the door for gays' acceptance on the bimah of mainstream Reform synagogues.
Rabbi Eger is the founding rabbi of Kol Ami, a reform synagogue in West Hollywood. Eger believes that activism is an important part of her work as a rabbi, and she is living that belief. She has a history of involvement with organizations that aid, support and advocate for equality of rights and opportunity of LGBT individuals. She has worked with the AIDS/HIV community, chaired organizations that support AIDS drug research, helped organize the Southern California Gay and Lesbian Professionals Group, and advocated for the acceptance and full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the rabbinate.
In addition to her contributions to the LGBT community, Rabbi Eger has worked on a variety of issues, including women’s rights, anti-racism, the farm workers movement, civil rights for all, and fair treatment in the work place.
Rabbi Eger is head rabbi of Kol Ami. She lives with her wife, Rabbi Eleanor Steinman in Los Angeles.
We are proud that Rabbi Eger got part of her start with us!
On a completely different note, we've attached the 2018 Sisterhood Seder flyer so you can print it and send it in with your check, or forward it on to a friend if you have already RSVPed. It's also available on our website tassisterhood.org - click on Programs, then Sisterhood Seder.
THINGS I LEARNED IN HEBREW SCHOOL
1. The High Holidays have absolutely nothing to do with marijuana.
2. Where there's smoke, there may be salmon.
3. No meal is complete without leftovers.
4. According to Jewish dietary law, pork and shellfish may be eaten only in Chinese restaurants.
5. Never take a front row seat at a Bris.
We hope to see you Tuesday!
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