Denise Eger & Eleanor Steinman


We are both rabbis, so we met doing rabbi things in Los Angeles,” Denise Eger (left) and Eleanor Steinman both recall. Now happily married, the two Jewish Reform rabbis focus on social justice, inclusion, and improving the world—one person at a time. Rabbi Eger grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1960s. “My childhood rabbi was head of the interfaith organization when Dr. King was murdered,” she remembers. “I saw the injustices of racism, and when I came out, I saw the injustices for LGBTQ+ people and I knew I had to speak up. I knew as a rabbi I could make these kinds of differences.” The founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, the West Hollywood, California, Reform Synagogue, Rabbi Eger helped pass the March 2000 Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) resolution in support of marriage equality, is co-author of the official Reform movement same-sex wedding liturgy, and in 2015 became the first out gay person to become CCAR’s president. Rabbi Dr. Steinman also found her faith-based calling rooted in a desire to help others. “I had strong rabbinic role models as a teenager, and loved that I could help people make meaning in their lives through the spiritual, historical, and cultural wisdom of Judaism,” she says. “I also love that rabbi means ‘teacher,’ and to be a teacher one is also always a learner.” Rabbi Dr. Steinman has served in leadership positions for California Faith for Equality and A Wider Bridge, organizations that prioritize LGBTQ+ equality and identity. She joined Temple Beth Shalom in Austin, Texas, at the height of COVID-19 and in July, will become the first female, full-time senior rabbi in the city. “This is one of my lifelong dreams,” she says. “I hope to inspire people and to build upon the strengths of my congregation to secure it, and the Jewish people, into the future.” A surprising fact about Rabbi Dr. Steinman: “I have a doctorate in education and two master’s degrees in addition to ordination.” As for her wife, Rabbi Eger: “I love Star Trek. All the different shows. Live long and prosper.”

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