Discussions about being a Torah Jew who is also a lesbian. What does the halakha say about it? What can be done to educate people to know how to respond properly?

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Wrestling with Steve Greenberg

I first encountered Steve Greenberg either on the GayJews e-mail list or the FrumGays list. I was a member of both of these lists back in the late '90s, and Steve was at least on FrumGays.

FrumGays, it should be noted, was created by a non-frum Jew, and was known for very many views that were far from frum. It was due to this that the OrthoDykes and OrthoGays e-mail lists for gay and lesbian Torah Jews were created.

I met Steve a few times at meetings of the Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association, in New York. I don't think I knew who he was at the time. Back then, "Yaakov Levado" was simply a pseudonym, and many of us didn't know who was behind the name.

Flash forward to 1998 and Jerusalem. There had been an effort for some time to create a GLBT center in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Open House was a nascent center. There was no building. It was merely a dream of a handful of organizers. But in 1998, there was a general meeting, held in Jerusalem.

Standing outside of the building where the meeting had been held, Steve Greenberg spent over half an hour trying to convince me that the Torah had not been given at Sinai. Not literally, anyway. That Matan Torah was fictional. He denigrated my assertion that if Matan Torah wasn't literally true, Judaism was itself a fiction, and found my acceptance of what he considered to be a myth to be rather quaint.

I later found out (from a friend who had been on the OrthoGays list) that I was not alone when it came to Steve's attempts to convince frum gay Jews to reject the essential core of Judaism.

Now... why is this important? Who cares if one guy has anti-Torah views?

The problem is, Steve Greenberg has attempted to position himself as "the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi". And he's nothing of the sort. He may have been Orthodox at one time. He may be Orthoprax today. But Orthodox Judaism is more than mere ritual. And someone who rejects Torah miSinai is not an Orthodox Jew. Someone who goes beyond that and actively attempts to dissuade Jews from the basic truths of the Torah is more than just "not-Orthodox".

To the extent that Steve is seen as a representative of gay and lesbian frum Jews, he does a tremendous amount of damage. Far too many people already think that we're only pretend frummies. That in reality, we want to tear Judaism down. And along comes Steve Greenberg, who not only works to convince frum Jews that Judaism is untrue, but has written and publicized an article trying to mainstream intermarriage by distorting the concept of ger toshav into something the Rambam and every other Torah great would have been horrified by.

Be warned. Steve Greenberg is no representative of gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews.


Blogger Noah773 said...

Interesting post. I wasn't aware of R' Greenberg's views.
BTW, I just watched "Trembling" for the first time last night. It is a facinating film.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I've actually heard so much about him, but never really looked into his beliefs. Thank you very much for this article... Very Informative.

7:47 PM  
Blogger FunkyJew82 said...

Very interesting post. From what I've seen of R'Greenberg in "Trembling," I sort of got the feeling his views weren't so frum. I guess most people just assumed they were since he went to YU and received s'micha there. Thanks for your post.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Yuri said...

An orthodox Jew is one who accepts Halacha. A person who questions dogma should not be disqualified from being considered a pious Jew. Poor Rambam had his books burned during his lifetime for applying the Greek methodology to Jewish thought - 800 years later, his 13 principles are concidered axiomatic to Jewish faith.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

That's vague enough. Are you saying that Steve is merely "questioning dogma"? That's hardly the case.

Also, that's not why Rambam's books were burned.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Yuri said...

"trying to convince me that the Torah had not been given at Sinai. Not literally, anyway." Ofcourse he's questioning dogma. It says pretty explicitly in the Torah that the world was created in 6 days - most people don't believe that, though. I think that to believe in Torah and Halacha as the Truth, one does not have to believe that Moshe received the whole thing (some people say this included all the Midrashim) as direct text from G-d, just like we do not believe that the world was created in 6 literal days.

11:36 AM  
Blogger גיר said...


What is your proof that Rb. Greenberg has rejected the Torah? I'm curious, I'm not going to judge him. I myself am against intermarriage, though my goy brother married a Jew, but converted much later. Is that your only qualm? Todah..

1:06 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I don't understand the question. Did you read what I wrote? The man tried to convince me that the Torah was not literally given at Sinai. He did the same thing with a friend of mine. That may not work as proof for you, because you have no way of knowing that we're telling the truth about this, but it's proof enough for me, since I was actually there.

6:50 AM  
Blogger mzk said...

The problem, Yuri, is that the Rambam himself disagrees with you.

2:22 PM  

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