by Lauren Schlau, BCC President
Today I stand before you on the shoulders of 21 special people, BCC past presidents, who did so much to bring us to where we are today. BCC was born in April 1972 from a dream and a desire by a handful of Jewish gay and lesbian pioneers to create a safe and welcoming spiritual community. Little could they have imagined that we would grow to 250 members and expand our reach to include bisexual and transgender people and non-LGBT family, friends and allies.
30 years ago, on April 27, 1985 in our 13th or b’nai mitzvah year as a congregation, BCC decided it was vital to recognize worthy community leaders who stood as role models of tikkun olam, repair of the world. We held our first BCC Awards Dinner Dance and established the Rabbi Erwin and Agnes Herman Humanitarian Award to honor them and to recognize Rabbi Herman’s pivotal role in BCC’s acceptance into Reform Judaism, the first gay lesbian congregation of any religion to be accepted by its denomination. 1985 was at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Our first honoree was UCLA Research Center physician Dr. Joel Weisman, among the first and few who recognized and worked with the HIV virus and AIDS patients. Gratefully we have come a long way, yet BCC was among the first to recognize such accomplishments.
Several people who were instrumental in that first event are with us today, including Agnes Herman, an activist, ally, and friend of BCC for whom we named the award with her husband Rabbi Erwin Herman (of blessed memory). Also here is Rabbi Janet Marder, our beloved first ordained rabbi who led us and helped us grow in so many ways. Among the Reform movement’s most accomplished and acclaimed spiritual leaders, she and her husband Rabbi Shelly Marder came here today from the Bay Area. And finally I want to acknowledge the first Awards Dinner co-chair Jane Fantel, a development professional who put together the first BCC awards dinner dance.
Sometimes my role as your president is simply to support, appreciate, and thank those who make possible the many wonderful events we enjoy in the BCC community. This Awards Brunch is especially deserving of such recognition.
First I want to recognize the people who make things happen for BCC day in and day out, starting with our beloved clergy, Senior Rabbi Lisa Edwards, Cantor Juval Porat and Rabbi Heather Miller; our dedicated Executive Director Ruth Geffner, who also served as co-chair of this event, Education Director Leah Zimmerman, Office Manager Victoria Delgadillo, Building Manager Tim Goad, our outstanding Board of Directors, and a bevy of regular volunteers who keep us running. For them, this Awards Brunch was extra work beyond their normal duties.
I also want to acknowledge those who made today possible – the BCC Awards Brunch Committee cochaired by Mike King and Ruth Geffner. In particular, Tracy Moore, our adored lezbtzen, stepped in with her expert development skills and talent to oversee the entire event. The sensational Silent Auction was cochaired by Cecilia Quigley Groman and Ronnie Wexler. The committee also included Mark Farber, Aviyah Farkas, Ginger Jacobs, Adam Kulbersh, Richard Lesse, Herb Toplan, Brett Trueman, and Arlene Weinstock.
And my deepest gratitude goes to our many supporters who gave generously as table sponsors and hosts, who donated to the silent auction, and who placed kind tributes in our program book. And special thanks to Cameron Andrews of Pier Communications who donated his PR services to ensure the event and the honorees received deserved media notice.
We are also blessed with friends and supporters from the greater community here today: City Controller Ron Galperin, Asher Gellis and Rabbi Rachel Bat Or from JQ International, Jay Geller, long-time board member of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Joel Kushner of the HUC Kalman Institute