Steven Greenberg is the first person with Orthodox Rabbinic ordination to announce his homosexuality while claiming adherence to Orthodox Judaism.[1][2][3] Given Judaism's views on homosexuality, this has made Greenberg a focus for criticism and praise, as well as a symbol of the growing voice of the Jewish gay movement.


Greenberg was raised in Columbus, OH USA. He received his BA in philosophy from Yeshiva University, and his rabbinic ordination from YU's RIETS. He is currently a Senior Teaching Fellow at CLAL (National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership), an interdenominational Jewish think tank, leadership training institute, and resource center.


Some gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews have objected to Greenberg's positioning of himself as their representative or as Orthodox at all,[4] citing among their reasons:

Meeting with Rabbi EliashivEdit

Greenberg relates an anecdote in his semi-autobiographical work, Wrestling with God and Men of him meeting Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv while living as a student in Israel.

...beset with an inceased awareness of my attraction to a fellow yeshiva student, I visited a sage, Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashuv [sic], who lives in one of the most secluded ultra-Orthodox communities in Jerusalem. He was in poor health but still taking visitors... Speaking in Hebrew, I told him what, at the time, I felt was the truth. "Master, I am attracted to both men and women. What shall I do?" He responded, "My dear one, my friend, you have twice the power of love. Use it carefully." I was stunned. I sat in silence for a moment, waiting for more. "Is that all?" I asked. He smiled and said, "That is all. There is nothing more to say."

Greenberg notes that Eliashiv's comment was not meant to endorse homosexuality, nor to imply that there is no conflict between homosexuality and Orthodox Judaism (the vast majority of Orthodox sages and laypeople believe there is). On the contrary, the point of the story, and the significance of Eliashiv's reported response, is that it is possible for religious Jews to have compassion and empathy for Jews struggling to remain frum and who have homosexual urges.

Ger Toshav articleEdit

Intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews is a phenomenon which is considered anathema by Orthodox Judaism. While intermarriage occurs primarily outside of the Orthodox community—and indeed, Orthodox Jews who intermarry almost invariably leave the Orthodox fold when they do—it is an issue of concern for many Orthodox thinkers. Greenberg wrote an article in which he attempts to apply the category of Ger Toshav to non-Jews who are married to Jews. He proposed that when a Jew marries a non-Jew who is an ethical monotheist (one who believes in God as understood by Judaism, and rejects non-Jewish ideas) the non-Jewish partner be considered a Ger Toshav, a biblical term for resident alien, denoting someone who is not Jewish, but who lives within the Land of Israel and renounces idolatry. This is controversial because historically the concept of Ger Toshav, as defined by Maimonides, merely refers to a non-Jew who has accepted the seven Noachide laws without implying any membership in the Jewish community. Greenberg's attempt to "reinvent" the category as a de facto framework for intermarriage has caused even many gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews to distance themselves from him.[6]

Publications Edit

This is an incomplete list of Greenberg's published works. He briefly published under the pseudonym Yaakov Levado ("Jacob alone").

References Edit

  1. Wrestling with God and Men :: Author Bio And Photos
  2. Judaism and the gay dilemma | Guardian daily comment | Guardian Unlimited
  3. Jewish Journal Archives
  4. Orthodykes: Wrestling with Steve Greenberg
  5. Steve Greenberg, Between Intermarriage and Conversion: Finding a Middle Way
  6. Steve Greenberg, Between Intermarriage and Conversion: Finding a Middle Way

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