Jewish Reform Group Installs First Openly Lesbian Leader in Philadelphia

This afternoon, at the 126th annual Central Conference of American Rabbis, which takes place in Philadelphia this year, Rabbi Denise Eger was named the reform group’s first openly lesbian president. More from

Eger, 55, who grew up in Memphis, Tenn., said she sees this moment not as a triumph for her alone, but for all those who have supported her and LGBT causes along the way.

“It’s a wonderful tribute to all those LGBT colleagues and allies who worked so hard to channel hearts and minds and to work for equality and to cast the widest open tent for Judaism,” she said.

Her installation also comes as the organization celebrates the 25th anniversary of its resolution calling for ordination of gay rabbis. And this year the board of trustees unanimously passed a resolution calling for the inclusion of transgender rabbis and gender expression, Eger said.

The resolution will mean no discrimination in hiring and will provide education for the lay community, she said.

“This is a full arc of working very hard for religious rites and civil rights,” Eger said.

Eger is the founding Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood’s Reform Synagogue. You can follow her whereabouts on her blog here.

Her friends have tweeted out support from the conference, apparently nicknaming the new president Les-bama:

Congrats on the historic new position!