Gayness & God


ITHACA, NY — Rabbi Steven Greenberg, the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi, will discuss “Gayness and God” at Ithaca College on Monday, March 23. His talk, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Clark Lounge, Egbert Hall.

A senior teaching fellow at CLAL: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, Greenberg is the author of “Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition.” He has spoken widely at college campuses, Jewish community centers and synagogues on issues of faith, sexuality and tradition and helped organize the first Orthodox Mental Health Conference on homosexuality. He is a founding member of Open House Jerusalem, an organization that advances the cause of social tolerance in Israel.

The assumption — which often becomes the reality — is that there is incompatibility or even hostility between traditionally religious people and gay or lesbian people. Greenberg’s perspective provides a way to bridge this gap through the examination and reinterpretation of traditional texts often used to exclude gays and lesbians from particular religious communities. He will share his radical and pragmatic solutions to the conflict between traditional religion, Judaism in particular, and homosexuality. All are welcome to join him in an honest conversation about what it means to be gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender while also being religious.


After New York Times columnist Roger Cohen went to an L.A. synagogue to defend his views on Iran and the state of the Jews there, the synagogue’s rabbi, David Wolpe, penned his impressions of the encounter on The Huffington Post:

Increasingly I came to believe that Iran was not Cohen’s sole concern; he wanted it as a stick with which to beat Israel over Gaza, whose incursion he wrote left him ashamed…

To my mind the challenges I offered him, and the audience offered, were met with restatements of the same position, and little acknowledgment of the force of the argument. I asked "You advocate negotiations with Hamas and Hizbollah, arguing that they can be pragmatic. What if Hamas and Hizbollah had the arms of Israel and Israel had their force of arms. What do you think would happen?" To my amazement, he said he didn’t know. Well, I do. And so does he. For all the thoughtless and ignorant cry that Israel is committing ‘genocide’ no one doubts the true genocide that would befall the Jews of Israel if Hamas had a superior force of arms. As Iran moves closer to a nuclear weapon, such a question becomes less and less theoretical.

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic also finds Cogen assessment of Hamas and Hezbollah credulous.

Yisroel Pensack emails Luke: "Cohen can be credulous, but his assessment cannot be.  His assessment may reflect his credulity, because he is credulous.  Check your dictionary."

You can read JTA’s blogposts on Cohen here.


JERUSALEM (JTA) — It is not appropriate for the pope to wear a cross at the Western Wall, the rabbi in charge of the holy site said.

Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit Israel in May and visit the Western Wall. He wears a large cross at all public appearances.

"My position is that it is not fitting to enter the Western Wall area with religious symbols, including a cross," Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch told the Jerusalem Post Monday. "I feel the same way about a Jew putting on a tallit and phylacteries and going into a church."


Warsaw – Thousands of Hasidic Jews will on Tuesday pray at the grave in Poland of one of the faith’s most influential rabbis, marking the 223 anniversary of his death.

Rabbi Elimelech Weisblum’s grave in southeastern Poland will see Jews from across the world come to pray, dance and sing at one of the most significant places in the Hasidic faith.

The anniversary is ‘classically Jewish – chaotic,’ Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich told…

‘It’s very intense and it’s also very individual,’ Schudrich said. ‘Rabbi Elimelech was one of the great Hasidic masters and it’s considered a great merit to visit the grave of someone that’s on such a high spiritual level at the anniversary of his death."


About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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