Clergy

Rabbi Denise L. Eger

Rabbi Denise L. Eger is the founding Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood’s premier Reform Synagogue. Rabbi Eger is the Immediate Past President of The Central Conference of American Rabbis, the largest rabbinic organization in the world, and was the third woman and first openly gay or lesbian person in the position. Rabbi Eger is a Past President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, the first woman to serve in the post. 

She was honored by the City of Los Angeles, and was also named by the Huffington Post as the Most Inspirational GLBT Clergy Person in America.  In 2010 she was named by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the top 50 women rabbis in North America.  In 2008, the Jewish Daily Forward named her as one of the Forward 50—the 50 most influential Jewish leaders in the United States for her work on GLBT rights.

She is the author of numerous articles and has contributed frequently to several anthologies. Her most recent writings include two chapters in the bookThe Sacred Encounter: Jewish Perspectives on Sexuality published by the CCARPRESS. She posts regularly on her blog: Walking Humbly, Seeking Justice, Living with Hope at www.rabbieger.wordpress.com .

See Rabbi Eger’s full biography and list of achievements

Keep up to date on the Torah portions and Rabbi Eger’s commentary. 

Assistant Rabbi Max Chaiken

Rabbi Max Chaiken is excited to join the team at Congregation Kol Ami as Assistant Rabbi. In addition to pastoral responsibilities, Rabbi Chaiken takes works on young adult outreach and engagement, social justice initiatives, weekly Shabbat music, and social media. He was ordained in 2018 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, where he earned his Masters of Arts in Hebrew Letters in 2016, and was twice awarded the Rubin Memorial Prize for Academic Writing. In his final two years of school, Rabbi Chaiken served here at Kol Ami as student rabbi. Prior to that, he served as the student rabbi at Congregation Etz Chaim in Merced, CA, taught religious school at Temple Isaiah, and completed a course in pastoral education at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Rabbi Chaiken grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, and spent his summers at the URJ Camp Harlam, in Kunkletown, PA. He earned his BA in Economics and Public Policy from Brown University in 2009, and before beginning his rabbinical studies, he taught Jewish music, Hebrew, and more in synagogue religious schools and Jewish day schools in the Boston area. 

Trusting that our ancient tradition has incredible tools for helping to make contemporary life meaningful, Rabbi Chaiken eagerly brings together interests in storytelling and poetry, music, Hebrew, and more as he seeks to share and inspire others. He lives in Altadena with his husband, Rabbi Danny Shapiro, and their dog, Oogie.

 

Cantor Emeritus Mark Saltzman

Cantor Emeritus Mark Saltzman has been a beloved and inspiring presence during his 18 years at Kol Ami. Trained as a classical singer, but comfortable in a variety of styles and periods, Mark creates a warm and inclusive atmosphere. Whether he’s chanting traditional prayers or leading a service of the most recent contemporary Jewish music, he is known for his beautiful singing and heart-filled interpretations.
Cantor Saltzman is also a noted composer of liturgical music whose melodies are sung in many congregations throughout the United States. He is proud to be a synagogue composer published by the URJ’s Transcontinental Music division.

 

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