Rabbi talks being gay in Jewish faith

Published: April 3, 2014

 As an Orthodox Jew, it took Rabbi Steve Greenberg two decades to come out as a gay man, but only minutes to recap his experiences Wednesday night. 

 
Greenberg recounted his story of coming to terms with being gay in the Orthodox Jewish tradition Wednesday at an IU Hillel-sponsored event.
 
He is commonly known as the first openly gay Jewish Orthodox rabbi, event organizer and junior Avi Sonnenschein said. 
 
After realizing his attraction to men at the age of 20, Greenberg went to a right-wing Orthodox rabbi and told him he was attracted to both men and women, and that he needed advice. 
 
“The rabbi said to me, ‘My dear one, my friend, you have twice the power to love. Use it carefully,’” Greenberg said. “I ran from there excited thinking I had twice the love and would be a great rabbi and marry a woman. Only later did I realize I only had attractions to men.” 
 
Typically, Orthodox Judaism strictly does not allow openly gay rabbis. Rabbis are not to perform commitment ceremonies for any gay people, despite the fact that 
Orthodox Jews are a diverse group of people with a diverse set of beliefs, Greenberg said. 
 
He said gay sex is portrayed as shameful in Jewish scripture because it is an issue of power.
 
If a man were to penetrate another man, it would put the penetrated at the level of a woman — which, historically has meant to have less value, voice and power, Greenberg said. 
 
“At the bottom of homophobia is misogyny,” Greenberg said. “Homosexuality threatens masculinity because it mimics internalized femininity that’s possible for men. We see this in places where there is a great divide between what is masculine and what is feminine. Gay people are killed in those places.” 
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