An Invocation for the LAPD CHIEF’s LGBTQ Forum

Yesterday I had the honor of giving the invocation for the LAPD Chief’s LGTQ Forum.  This is a quarterly gathering of law enforcement, fire department officials and LGBTQ community leaders and LA city leaders under Chief Beck and Asst. Chief Grimala’s leadership.  Together this is an opportunity to engage, listen and learn from one another and work together to ensure that LAPD is sensitive to the LGBTQ community, that we form a partnership in the area of community policing and build bridges for any and all interactions between the LAPD and law enforcement and the LGBTQ community.  This forum and the working group has done amazing work to train the LAPD on transgender issues and sensitize the deputies and officers so that they can be respectful and treat all who they come in contact with in a dignified manner.

This forum also works together on issues of hate crimes, homelessness and immigration. I was particularly impressed with LAPD’s commitment to serving all the residents. Did you know that LAPD will not report any undocumented immigrant? They do not work with ICE in the jails or any other incidents  and Chief Beck assured all of us gathered there that while there is definitely fear in the immigrant community, should the undocumented have need of police help that they can trust and turn to their local police for help. Very reassuring in these troubling times.


Here is the invocation I delivered;

For the LGBTQ Police Advisory Council


On this evening we gather as a community to listen and learn from each other.  May our hearts be ever open.  Let our ears hear clearly without preconceived ideas.  May our eyes be open wide to the possibilities that abound.  Let our hands be joined in solidarity and friendship.  May our ideas be shared in the service of peace in our neighborhoods.  Let our words be delivered with kindness and wisdom.  May our thoughts be offered in the interest of building the world as we wish to see it- a rainbow of diverse people living together in harmony.  Safe and free to love and live; work and play so that we may build lives of noble purpose and meaning.

May the bonds we forge in this communal setting be bonds of understanding and learning and appreciation.  Protect our law enforcement officers, fire men and women and those who serve from all harm.  And protect all of the residents and citizens of our city of Angeles from violence, crime  and/or brutal force.  May the LGBTQ community and the Los Angeles Police Department continue to forge between us cooperation, understanding and most importantly seeing in each other our shared humanity – A gift of the Divine.

Holy One of Blessing. Bless us in our endeavors tonight. Give strength to these your children, the representatives who are gathered here.  So that we may always bless and wish one another with these words uttered by your servant Moses to his successor Joshua:  Chazak v’ematz, Be strong and of good courage.  Tonight may our work together strengthen us and our resolve to be vessels of holy endeavors and may we encourage each other to achieve that harmony we so desire.  As the prophet Isaiah teaches: Peace Peace to the far and near.

Ken Yehi Ratzon—So May it Be God’s will.

WeHo’s Congregation Kol Ami Celebrates 25 Years  

So Excited for this article on our Congregation’s upcoming 25th anniversary in WEHOVILLE!   Here is the link too.
Tue, May 16, 2017   By Staff

reform judaism, weho synagogue

Congregation Kol Ami is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an event on June 19.

Kol Ami was founded by members of the LGBTQ community in Los Angeles came together at a time when the gay community was socially marginalized and void of basic rights.

“Kol Ami was founded when there was a need for a more inclusive spiritual home – one to celebrate and lift us up as individuals,” said Kol Ami Rabbi Denise L. Eger. “This year, we proudly celebrate 25 years of accomplishments while looking to the calling before us to be a synagogue that continues to build bridges, tear down walls, and helps to heal the divide brought on by these turbulent political times.”

Kol Ami has a history of involvement in local and national causes. One example is when Rabbi Eger and Congregation Kol Ami got involved in the fight for marriage equality. Prior to serving as the president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), Rabbi Eger helped to craft a resolution for CCAR that permitted rabbis to officiate over same sex marriages. She then later presided over the televised ceremony between Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, who were among the plaintiffs who sued to put an end to Proposition 8.

In addition to its social activism, Congregation Kol Ami has taken steps to develop strong interfaith partnerships that focus on the commonalities held as communities of faith, addressing misunderstandings about the LGBTQIand Jewish communities. It has also made education a priority by offering scholarships to LGBTQ students and children of LGBTQ individuals through its temple foundation, The Voice of My People.

“We only get back from the world what we put in,” Eger said. “How do you unite a divide without building a bridge of understanding? And how do you help ensure that generations to come will have the tools necessary to build those bridges rather than walls? We believe it’s in part by offering opportunities to broaden our view of the world and acknowledging that we are all more similar than we are different.”

“There’s no question that Kol Ami feels a responsibility to be part of the collective solution to the hate and fear being generated today,” Eger said, referencing events since the election of Donald Trump. “’Kol Ami’ means ‘voice of my people,’ and as we look to the future, it’s clear that we must ensure that our collective voices continue to be heard in order to heal our troubled country and world from the harmful rhetoric being used – and that’s exactly what we intend to do.”

At its anniversary gala Congregation Kol Ami will honor the contributions of congregants Dr. Kim Bergman, a psychologist and co-owner of Growing Generations – one of the largest surrogacy agencies in the world, and her wife Natalie Bergman with the Guardian of Justice award, which will be presented by Dustin Lance Black. The evening will also include honoring both Alvin Gross and David Glickman with the Spirit of Kol Ami award. More information about the event is available online.

Journey in Strength.

The Journey continues.  The Exodus from Egypt, celebrated by Passover now concluded is the first steps on the journey to the Promised Land.  For the next few weeks we will count off the daily omer with a blessing as we march toward Mt. Sinai and the revelation of Torah.  We have completed the first week dedicated by the mystics to Hesed- the Divine trait of lovingkindness.  And we will start a new week dedicated to Gevurah- Strength, strictness.  This stand in opposition to all we have experienced this past week, the loving, kind experience of God’s love and embrace.


Journeys like these into the unknown are hard.  One needs both gentleness and inner fortitude, strength to make such a journey.  Finding the balance between these two isn’t easy but part of the journey toward the revelation is experiencing it all.  So this coming week our journey will be to see the world and ourselves through this lens of strength, might, and the strict interpretation of the law.  This isn’t harshness or cruelty.  All of it is now tempered because we experienced a week of Hesed which always will remain with us in the journey toward wholeness at Sinai.