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Learning to Listen, with Rabbi Denise L. Eger

Episode 47

Rabbi Denise L. Eger is an international Jewish leader and social justice activist. She is the founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, in West Hollywood, CA. She is Past President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the international organization of over 2300 Reform Rabbis. She served as the first openly gay or lesbian person in that position. She also was the first woman ever elected as President of the Southern California Board of Rabbis which includes Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Orthodox Rabbis.

Rabbi Eger is the editor of the ground breaking book, Mishkan Ga’avah: Where Pride Dwells: A Celebration of LGBTQ Jewish Life and Ritual (CCAR PRESS, 2020). This collection of LGBTQ prayers, poems, liturgy, and rituals is both a spiritual resource and a celebratory affirmation of Jewish diversity. Giving voice to the private and public sectors of queer Jewish experience and allies. She also wrote a companion study guide for this book.

Rabbi Eger is also the co-editor of Gender and Religious Leadership: Woman Rabbis Pastors and Ministers (Rowman and Littlfield, 2019). This volume analyzes historical and recent developments in female religious leadership and the larger issues shaping the scholarly debate at the intersection of gender and religious studies.

Eger was named as one of the 50 most influential Jews by the Jewish Daily Forward and one of the 50 most influential women rabbis. In October 2011 Rabbi Eger was one of the Gay Icons of Equality Forum’s LGBT History Month. Huffington Post named her as the #1 LGBT Clergy Person in America. Most recently recognized for her activism by the City of Los Angeles as a trailblazer, she has won numerous awards for her leadership from the Human Rights Campaign, the City of West Hollywood, the California State Senate and State Assembly.

Rabbi Eger also coaches non-profit executives and clergy through her company ReZilience Strategies.

Raised in Memphis, TN, Rabbi Eger graduated with honors from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion in 1982. She received her Master’s Degree from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in 1985 and was ordained as Rabbi in 1988 at the New York campus of HUC. She received her Doctor of Divinity in 2013 from HUC-JIR. Eger is a Sr. Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Eger is married to Rabbi Eleanor Steinman, Associate Rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom in Austin, TX She has one son, Benjamin, who lives and works in Dallas You can follow her on Twitter @deniseeger or her blog “Walking Humbly . Seeking Justice. Living with Hope.”

What You Will Learn:

  • How the assassination of Dr. MLK Jr. influenced her
  • How her childhood Rabbi helped her realize her own potential
  • How our beliefs affect our genetic code
  • The many roles of a clergyperson
  • The best influence techniques
  • What Rabbi Eger thinks it means to be authentic
  • The detriment of American work culture
  • How woman can create a new environment in the workplace


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