We had the good fortune of connecting with Denise Eger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Denise, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is a necessary part of life. It’s not optional. Risk is what happens every day when we get up in the morning and take our first breath. You are risking that your body will work, that you will be able to take that breath and even get out of bed. If we understand that as a basic premise of life then understanding risk as simply part of the decision making process and sometimes as something one does that is as natural as breathing, changes how I think about risk taking. But don’t underestimate that it all takes courage. Every single day takes courage in life. Because you never know what will happen next. And in the risk department this is why you have to be prepared to respond authentically, and have guiding ethics and principals and morals to guide your decisions and action. These are the part of the formula that helps you move forward in wholeness. So that when life throws you what seems like a curveball (A situation, a scenario, to which you have to respond to) you are better prepared to take the risks necessary to anticipate and respond. Risk has to be understood not as a haphazard response but a grounded courageous response to uncertainty and the unknown.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am the Sr. Founding Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami. We are a boutique congregation in West Hollywood, Ca now in our 28 th year! We are diverse community made of LGBTQ+ people, straight folks, Singles and families with kids, Jews by birth and choice, interfaith households and POC! I am proud that we live our diversity and embracing one another in full force. As one of the first openly lesbian rabbis it hasn’t been easy to overcome the prejudice, sometimes out right hatred and even at times death threats. But my spiritual grounding, my work to enlarge the tent, and on civil and human rights have focused my work and passion to uplift human dignity. My book – Mishkan Ga’avah: Where Pride Dwells a celebration of LGBTQ Jewish Life and Ritual centers the voice of LGBTQ people and gives voice to our spiritual yearnings and lives.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love LA! There are so many great and unusual spots in our City of Angeles. Pre-Covid, no trip to Los Angeles would be complete with out a stop to Grand Central Market in DTLA and a ride on Angel’s Flight, the small funicular railcar. on Bunker Hill that was restored a little more than a decade ago. The Market is a reflection of Los Angeles’ great ethnic diversity through the food and smells that co-mingle! I also used to love taking folks for a drink at sunset at Yamashiro’s to look out at the lights of Hollywood. And of course no visit to Los Angeles is complete without time by the ocean, whether on the Santa Monica Pier, Crazy Venice Boardwalk, or even Paradise Cove in Malibu beach culture is part of the gestalt of this great place we call LA!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am lucky to have a sacred community that allows me to lead, teach and learn with them. For more than 28 years I have been the rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood. I have had the honor and privilege of sharing their lives, and growing together.