As Rabbi Lisa Edwards and BCC prepare for her transition to the position of Rabbi Emerita, we will have several opportunities to celebrate with her and her wife Tracy Moore, reminisce about their 25 years with our congregation, and honor them for all of their myriad achievements. At the top of our list is the Vision Awards brunch, at which they will be honored for all they have done for BCC and the wider LA Jewish and LGBT communities.
Rabbi Lisa and Tracy both richly deserve to be honored at our Vision Awards brunch, to be held on Sunday, June 2, at 10:30 am (reception and silent auction) and 12:00 noon (brunch). We will once again enjoy the beautiful surroundings and delicious food of the Skirball Cultural Center for this annual celebration. Further details about tickets, the silent auction, entertainment, and more will be forthcoming in the near future.
In the meantime, here is a sampling of the many reasons Rabbi Lisa and Tracy are being honored this year.
Rabbi Lisa and Tracy came to BCC permanently in 1994, when Lisa completed her rabbinic education and was ordained by Hebrew Union College (see her column in this newsletter for more on that). They were already well known and appreciated at BCC because Lisa had served as our student rabbi during the challenging 1991-92 year.
Over the subsequent 25 years, Rabbi Lisa has done far more than perform the usual rabbinic duties of leading services, teaching, officiating at life cycle events, and counseling BCC members. And Tracy has contributed far more of her time and talents to the congregation than most rabbinic spouses. She has chaired or co-chaired numerous fundraising events, holiday celebrations, our L’Chayim Legacy Circle for members who support BCC in their financial and estate planning, and much more.
From the start of her tenure, Rabbi Lisa raised BCC’s profile in the L.A. Jewish and LGBT communities, teaching courses at HUC in the rabbinic program and at USC in Jewish studies. She often wrote for the Jewish Journal and became a sought-after speaker on the intersection of faith, sexuality, and human rights. Her writing also appears in The Women’s Torah Commentary, Lesbian Rabbis: the First Generation, Mentsh: On Being Queer and Jewish, and Torah Queeries. Tracy is author of the oral history Lesbiot: Israeli Lesbians Talk about Sexuality, Feminism, Judaism and their Lives (Cassell 1995), and now serves on the board of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives.
Rabbi Lisa began her weekly Torah study soon after coming to BCC, and it has continued ever since. She has taught other courses over the years as well.
Rabbi Lisa and Tracy led BCC’s first congregational trip to Israel in 1999, and led a second trip in 2007. They also accompanied 18 BCC members to Germany in 2004 as part of “Bridge to Understanding,” a German program designed to build bridges with Jewish Americans who had never visited Germany.
In 2000 and subsequent years, BCC members opened their homes for “Great Chefs/Great Homes of BCC,” a series of dinners that helped raise funds for BCC. Rabbi Lisa and Tracy usually hosted one in their home.
Rabbi Lisa and Tracy were deeply involved in what has been called the “survivor scrolls reunion” at Leo Baeck Temple on November 12, 2005. That’s when we brought together several Holocaust survivor scrolls from congregations around Southern California. Olga Grilli, a survivor from the town in Czechoslovakia where our scroll originated, came to LA for the event as well. Check the BCC history on our website for more information.
In the summer and fall of 2008, Rabbi Lisa married over 40 same-sex couples during the four-month window between the California Supreme Court ruling establishing marriage equality and the infamous Proposition 8 that overturned it. She and Tracy also got married themselves during that time in a joyous celebration that much of our congregation attended (they previously had a Jewish wedding in 1995). As we all know, Proposition 8 did not survive the federal court litigation that followed, and marriage equality was restored to California in 2013.
Be sure to attend the Vision Awards to learn much more about Rabbi Lisa and Tracy’s 25 years of service to BCC and the LA Jewish and LGBT communities.
It’s Celebration Season! Save These Dates!
Before the Vision Awards, we will honor and celebrate Rabbi Lisa and Tracy on these fun occasions, described elsewhere in this issue.
March 20 (Wednesday) Purim Spiel, “The Wizard of BCC”! (Who’s that rabbi behind the curtain?)
April 7 (Sunday) 20s/30s Havurah Champagne Brunch with Rabbi Lisa
April 20 (Saturday) Second Night Seder: Rabbi Lisa’s last Seder with us?
After the Vision Awards, we will enjoy the following additional celebrations:
June 23 (Sunday) (Tentative) Screening of the film “Yentl” starring Barbra Streisand, with discussion led by Rabbi Lisa.
June 28 (Friday) Rabbi Lisa co-leads her last Ruach Chayim service as our senior rabbi. Prepare for some surprises.
June 29 (Saturday) Shabbat Morning Minyan, with special guests
June 30 (Sunday) BCC picnic for Rabbi Lisa and Tracy hosted by Dean Hansell and Eric Kugler for all members, former, current, and future, friends and families! Food, games, entertainment, music, nostalgia and joy!
And at most Friday Shabbat services through the end of June: BCC History Stories, each one told by someone who played an integral role in that story.
Open your planners and calendars and take note! You don’t want to miss anything during Rabbi Lisa’s 25th Year as Rabbi of BCC! Watch the announcements and the May/June issue of this newsletter for more details.