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19 Years and going strong

Today is Kol Ami’s birthday.  Our congregation is 19 years old. It is the actual date on the incorporation papers of our congregation.  Wow! We have done so much in such a short amount of time.  We have engaged in incredible social action and social justice causes.  We have created amazing musical programs. We wrote a Torah scroll. Built a beautiful building heralded for its design We built an institution.

We have helped transform our community for the good.  Whether it is our civic engagement in the City of West Hollywood, or our leadership on LGBT civil rights issues in Reform Judaism, or our leadership against Prop 8, or our continuing support of those with HIV/AIDS our congregation has led the way.  We continue to quietly and steadily serve at Sova-a team from our congregation goes twice a month.  We work closely with Jewish World Watch at every avenue within our congregation from adults to children. We have led the way in other years around Death Penalty moratorium, helping build a youth Shelter for LGBT youth in Tel Aviv, and award-winning interfaith programs for our interfaith families.  We have shattered assumptions and renewed Judaism.

We continue to train student rabbis to go out into the Jewish world and make a difference.  Just yesterday our former intern, Rabbi Ari Margolis of Temple Beth Or in Raleigh spoke before the North Carolina Legislature opposing a bill that wouldn’t just ban marriage but would ban basic civil rights like hospital visitation.  He proudly went (even on his day off) to make sure that a religious voice of love and tolerance and advocacy for LGBT rights was heard in his state! And he is not the only former Kol Ami intern that has organized in their new communities for LGBT civil rights and inclusion.  But this is an example of the far-reaching importance of our quiet work!

If you would like to read Rabbi Margolis’ comments please click here.

Our congregation does more than that it provides a community of like-minded Jews and their families for support and comfort celebration and hope.  We educate our children Jewishly. We try to expand our own adult awareness and knowledge and spiritual growth through our offerings.  We pray.  We provide a sacred space in the lives of those we touch.

This is the power of a Jewish sacred community that we call Congregation Kol Ami.  I am proud to serve as Kol Ami’s rabbi.  Tonight is our celebration. 8 pm at the Laugh Factory with Bruce Villanch, Alec Mapa, Julie Goldman, Tom Arnold, Gloria Bigelow and Shawn Plesofsky.  I hope you will come laugh with us.  And Happy Birthday all. Yom Huledet Sameach.