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Queery: Rabbi Denise Eger

Newly founded the Los Angeles Blade published an introduction interview with Rabbi Denise Eger. Rabbi Denise talks about coming out, her LGBT hero and… meeting Lady Gaga!

While studying to become a rabbi during the 1980s in New York City, Denise Eger started a group for gay and lesbian students, holding meetings far from campus. At the time, there were few prospects for out lesbian rabbis, a lesson Eger would learn personally — no one would hire her. But she found her calling at a synagogue created as a religious refuge for gays, Beth Chayim Chadashim in Los Angeles, the world’s first gay and lesbian synagogue to be recognized by Reform Judaism.

It was a road that led her to found Kol Ami, a welcoming and jubilant Jewish community that is open to all.

Since then, the Reform Jewish movement — Eger’s lifelong spiritual home — has undergone a radical transformation on LGBT issues and now fully embraces the community. So much so, in fact, that Eger, in 2015, became the first openly gay president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinical arm of Reform Judaism — the largest and oldest rabbinical organization in North America.

Eger has been honored for her HIV/AIDS work and is a highly regarded expert on Judaism and LGBT civil rights. She is a noted author contributing to anthologies such as “Torah Queeries,” “Lesbian Rabbis,” “Twice Blessed,” and “Conflicting Visions: Contemporary Debates in Reform Judaism.” She wrote the piece “Creating Opportunities for the ‘Other’: The Ordination of Women as a Turning Point for LGBT Jews”, which appears in the book “The Sacred Calling: Four Decades of Women in the Rabbinate,” published in 2016.

Read the interview with Rabbi Eger on the Los Angeles Blade