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Beth Chayim Chadashim

Coordinates: 34°03′09″N 118°22′22″W / 34.0526085°N 118.3728354°W / 34.0526085; -118.3728354
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Beth Chayim Chadashim
Hebrew: בית חיים חדשים
AffiliationReform Judaism
Ecclesiastical or organizational statusSynagogue
LeadershipRabbi Jillian R. Cameron
Location6090 West Pico Boulevard, Mid-City Los Angeles, California
CountryUnited States
Beth Chayim Chadashim is located in Western Los Angeles
Beth Chayim Chadashim
Location in Mid-City Los Angeles
Geographic coordinates34°03′09″N 118°22′22″W / 34.0526085°N 118.3728354°W / 34.0526085; -118.3728354
Date established1972 (as a congregation)

Beth Chayim Chadashim (Hebrew: בית חיים חדשים, lit.'House of New Life'), abbreviated as BCC, is a Reform Jewish synagogue located at 6090 West Pico Boulevard, in Mid-City Los Angeles, California, in the United States.

The congregation was founded in 1972, primarily for lesbian and gay Jews.[1][2] The Los Angeles Conservancy acknowledges the congregation as being "culturally significant"[3] as both the first LGBT synagogue in the world, the first LGBT synagogue recognized by the Union for Reform Judaism and, in 1977, as the first LGBT synagogue to own its own building.[4][5][6]


On April 4, 1972, Selma Kay, Jerry Gordon, Jerry Small, and Bob Zalkin were the only people who came to a weekly Wednesday night meeting at Los Angeles's Metropolitan Community Church.[7][8] They were all Jewish, and Selma asked, "Why don't we form a temple with an outreach to the gay Jews?"[7] The others agreed, and Rev. Troy Perry offered them the use of the church's facilities free of charge.[7] About a dozen women and men responded to the call to an ad hoc committee meeting to discuss the temple's founding, and the first service was held June 9, 1972 in Jerry Gordon's home.[7][self-published source?][9] In July 1972, an interfaith service was held at MCC's sanctuary, to introduce the new temple to the gay and lesbian community.[7] Weekly Friday night Jewish services were then held at MCC.[7]

In 1973, BCC received a Torah scroll from the town of Chotěboř (in the former Czechoslovakia), on permanent loan from Westminster Synagogue in London. The synagogue was welcomed into the Reform movement the same year.[10][11]

After several temporary locations, in 1977 the BCC congregation purchased a storefront at 6000 West Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles (the Pico-Robertson area) that was transformed into a synagogue and Jewish life-cycle space. The membership grew and flourished for over 30 years at this location. In 1978, the synagogue began to publish a newsletter titled G'vanim.[12]

In 1997, the congregation celebrated its 25th anniversary. At that time, it had 250 members (not including children) with 90% of them being LGBT and its oldest member being 87 years old.[13]

Janet Marder was the congregation's first rabbi.[14] Lisa Ann Edwards later served as a student rabbi under their first full-time rabbi, Denise Eger.[15] From 1992 to 2007, Cantorial Soloist Fran Magid Chalin's unique use of music and energy served to unite, uplift, inspire, and prompt BCC's connection to Jewish tradition, especially for the growing number of BCC children. In 1994 Rabbi Lisa Ann Edwards was ordained and became BCC's rabbi. After a 25 year tenure, Rabbi Lisa Edwards retired in 2019. Rabbi Jillian R. Cameron became BCC's rabbi in 2020.

In 2006, Ohr Chayim (Light of Life) was initiated as BCC's Family Education Program for children and their families, under Leah Zimmerman, the first Director of Education. Cantor Juval Porat, the first cantor to be trained in post-Holocaust Germany, was installed as BCC's Cantor in 2010.[16][17][18]

After five years of planning, BCC moved a block away from its first home to 6090 West Pico Boulevard, to accommodate BCC's expanding membership, staff and Jewish glbt studies programming. This endeavor of renovating three 1931 store fronts was led by BCC's first Executive Director Felicia Park-Rogers (hired in 2005) and BCC Member, Architect Ira Dankberg, and was designed by Toni Lewis and Marc Schoeplein of Lewis|Schoeplein architects. 6090 West Pico Boulevard is the first LEED certified synagogue in the United States.

The current clergy are Rabbi Jillian Cameron and Cantor Juval Porat.[19] It has an inclusive and progressive stance and programming towards gender and sexuality.[20]


  1. ^ "History". Beth Chayim Chadashim. July 30, 2008. Archived from the original on August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  2. ^ Brettschneider, Marla (January 2, 2019). "Jewish lesbians: New work in the field". Journal of Lesbian Studies. 23 (1): 2–20. doi:10.1080/10894160.2018.1499355. ISSN 1089-4160 – via Taylor and Francis Online.
  3. ^ "Culturally Significant". Los Angeles Conservancy.
  4. ^ "Beth Chayim Chadashim". Los Angeles Conservancy.
  5. ^ Drinkwater (2020). "AIDS Was Our Earthquake: American Jewish Responses to the AIDS Crisis, 1985–92". Jewish Social Studies. 26 (1): 132. doi:10.2979/jewisocistud.26.1.11 – via Project MUSE.
  6. ^ Drinkwater, Gregg (April 3, 2019). "Creating an embodied queer Judaism: liturgy, ritual and sexuality at San Francisco's Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, 1977–1987". Journal of Modern Jewish Studies. 18 (2): 177–193. doi:10.1080/14725886.2019.1593687. ISSN 1472-5886.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "History". Beth Chayim Chadashim. January 26, 2021.
  8. ^ Gengle, Dean (August 25, 1976). "Beth Chayim Chadashim: Model for a Creative Community". The Advocate (197): 16–17 – via Proquest.
  9. ^ Lobell, Kylie Ora (April 21, 2022). "World's First LGBTQ Synagogue, Beth Chayim Chadashim, Turns 50". Jewish Journal. Retrieved February 17, 2024.
  10. ^ Mehta, Samira K.; Krutzsch, Brett (2020). "The Changing Jewish Family: Jewish Communal Responses to Interfaith and Same-Sex Marriage". American Jewish History. 104 (4): 563. doi:10.1353/ajh.2020.0051. ISSN 1086-3141 – via Project MUSE.
  11. ^ Drinkwater, Gregg (April 30, 2016). "Judaism and Sexuality". In Wong, Angela; Wickramasinghe, Maithree; Hoogland, Renee; Naples, Nancy A. (eds.). The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies (1 ed.). Wiley. p. 6. doi:10.1002/9781118663219. ISBN 978-1-4051-9694-9.
  12. ^ Ridinger, Robert B. (July 3, 2017). "Who Knew? Writing LGBT People in Judaism". Journal of Religious & Theological Information. 16 (3): 99. doi:10.1080/10477845.2017.1317188. ISSN 1047-7845.
  13. ^ "Archives". Los Angeles Times. November 1, 1997.
  14. ^ Cohen, Debra Nussbaum (May 9, 2003). "Rabbi Marder; Another First". The New York Jewish week. Vol. 215, no. 48 – via Proquest.
  15. ^ "[VIDEO] Women Rabbis: Trailblazers and Innovators". Jewish Journal. October 25, 2009.
  16. ^ Axelrod, Toby (June 17, 2009). "Reform rabbis to be ordained in Berlin". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  17. ^ Landsberg, Mitchell (June 26, 2010). "L.A. synagogue hires first cantor ordained in Germany since WWII". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  18. ^ Landsberg, Mitchell (June 26, 2010). "L.A. synagogue is singing his praises; Juval Porat, the first cantor ordained in Germany since WWII, is fitting in well with new flock". Los Angeles Times. p. 4 – via Proquest.
  19. ^ "Clergy". Beth Chayim Chadashim. December 31, 2020.
  20. ^ Newman, Peter A.; Fantus, Sophia; Woodford, Michael R.; Rwigema, Marie-Jolie (September 2018). ""Pray That God Will Change You": The Religious Social Ecology of Bias-Based Bullying Targeting Sexual and Gender Minority Youth—A Qualitative Study of Service Providers and Educators". Journal of Adolescent Research. 33 (5): 523–548. doi:10.1177/0743558417712013. hdl:1807/78290. ISSN 0743-5584.

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