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.