Denise L. Eger was raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in religion in 1982. She received her master's degree from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in 1985 and was ordained as rabbi in 1988 at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College.
Rabbi Eger has served pulpits in Canada, New York and Los Angeles. Following ordination, she served Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim in Los Angeles for four and one-half years as its first full-time rabbi. She grew the congregation from 200 members to over 500 members and started the first ongoing HIV+ Jewish support group in the country. In 1992, she became the founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood's Reform Synagogue.
She co-chaired the Gay and Lesbian Rabbinic Network for two years. She was the founding president of the Lesbian, Gay, & Bisexual Interfaith Clergy Association of greater Los Angeles. She served on the board of the No On Knight Campaign/No on Proposition 22 and is active on the steering committee of the California Freedom to Marry Coalition. Most recently Rabbi Eger helped to organize the Southern California Gay and Lesbian Jewish Professionals Group, which brings together gay and lesbian rabbis, cantors, Jewish communal workers and educators in the Los Angeles area.
Rabbi Eger is the past chair of the Task Force on Gays and Lesbians in the Rabbinate of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) and also serves on Human Sexuality Committee of the CCAR and represents the CCAR on the Joint Commission on Synagogue Management with the UAHC. Rabbi Eger was instrumental in helping pass the March 2000 CCAR resolution in support of officiation at gay and lesbian commitment ceremonies.
She is a noted speaker on the topics of human sexuality and Judaism, AIDS, the changing Jewish Family, Spirituality and Health issues in Judaism and Politics, Progressive Judaism and the Radical Right. Rabbi Eger has appeared on numerous radio and television programs.
Rabbi Eger's partner is Karen Siteman, past chair of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center Board. They have a ten-year-old son, Benjamin.