Posted by Julie Gruenbaum Fax
Two Orthodox men were married by an Orthodox rabbi at what might be the first Orthodox gay wedding.
Rabbi Steven Greenberg, who has been an advocate for gays in the Orthodox community, married Yoni Bock and Ron Kaplan last week before 200 guests at Washington, D.C.’s, 6th and I Historic Synagogue. The couple has been together since 2005 and agreed to marry in 2008, but waited until same-sex marriage became legal in the District of Columbia in March 2010 before planning a wedding.
Greenberg told the Jewish Journal that the ceremony he crafted is not technically kiddushin – the halachic, or Jewish legal, term for marriage. Rather, it is a legal partnership in which Bock and Kaplan each made a neder, a legal oath, to consecrate themselves to one another in body and soul. They entered into that partnership under a chuppah, but the ceremony did not include the phrase “k’daat Moshe v’Yisrael,” according to the laws of Moses and Israel, which is at the heart of the ring exchange in a heterosexual ceremony.
Greenberg says he recognizes that halachic kiddushin is structured around financial and sexual obligations and prohibitions particular to a man and woman.
“I did not do kiddushin, I did an amalgam of things that worked halachically much better. Kiddushin doesn’t work for this – it has not legs to stand on,” said Greenberg, who was ordained at Yeshiva University in 1983, and came out as gay publicly in 1999.
The wedding was originally reported in +972, an Israeli and American Jewish news website. Roee Ruttenberg wrote in +972:
Greenberg assisted Bock and Kaplan in creating a ceremonial text that reflected the uniqueness of the event while incorporating the traditional elements of a Jewish wedding. Those familiar with the latter would have noticed an alteration in many of the texts, including the changing of genders for several of the pronouns. “Harey at mekudeshet li,” or “Behold, you (female) are consecrated to me” thus became “Harey atah m’kudash li,” or “Behold, you (male) are consecrated to me.”
Elements of a traditional ceremony that, according to the couple and Greenberg, reflected gender inequality, were removed or substituted with more egalitarian and gay-friendly versions. The traditional “ketubah,” or “marriage contract,” in which the bride is essentially purchased by the groom, was replaced with a “Shtar Shetufim,” or “partnership contract.”
Greenberg is no stranger to controversy. He publicly admitted his sexuality following his ordination from an Orthodox rabbinical school, making him the first openly gay practicing Orthodox rabbi. While he was warmly received by many, his book, “Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition,” led him to be shunned by some in the Orthodox community and even by some gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews who felt his views did not align with Orthodox readings of Jewish law. His participation in Thursday’s ceremony will be viewed by some as a step that crosses a line of no return.
Greenberg is on the board of Eshel, an organization that works to build community for gays and lesbians in the Orthodox world. He is the director of Orthodox programs for Nehirim, a national organization which builds community for GLBT Jews, partners, and allies. A senior teaching fellow at CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, Greenberg is the author of the groundbreaking book “Wrestling with God & Men:
Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition” (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004).
Click here to read the Jewish Journal’s profile of Greenberg.
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November 14, 2011 | 12:57 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
An elderly woman found dead in her apartment on Saturday has been identified as Anne Weiss, latimes.com reports:
An elderly woman who was bludgeoned to death was remembered by neighbors as a kind and caring woman who tended to her husband as her own health declined.
Authorities on Sunday identified the 80-year-old woman found Saturday at her apartment as Anne Weiss. Her husband, Milton Weiss, 96, is jailed on suspicion of murder with his bail set at $1 million.
The couple, who had lived in the West Los Angeles cooperative for about two decades, used to sit by the pool in the afternoon, sipping cocktails with friends. Anne Weiss, with her strawberry blond hair, was described as elegant and graceful, even as she grew older. From latimes.com:
“If a woman can be a mensch, she would be a mensch,” said Sharon Queen-Ford, 72, Weiss’ neighbor, using the Yiddish word for a person of integrity.
Family members of the victim said that her husband, Milton Weiss, in jail on suspicion of murder, had recently been “getting confused” and would get angry about things that weren’t real.
Family members told KTLA that the couple had been happily married for 20 years, but that recently Milton Weiss thought his wife was stealing his money.
“She had said she was having a lot of trouble with him,” neighbor Sharon Queen-Ford told KTLA. “He was getting confused about things and would be angry about something that wasn’t real.”
Read more at LATimes.com.
November 11, 2011 | 12:08 am
Posted by Tom Tugend
Some 28 years ago, Poland’s Communist regime arrested Ruth Ellen Gruber, then bureau chief for United Press International. Police threw her in jail, interrogated her and finally expelled her on trumped-up espionage charges.
Gruber is now the chief European correspondent for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), whose reports appear frequently in The Journal.
Last week in Los Angeles, she again faced Polish officials, but this time to receive the country’s Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit, one of the highest honors bestowed on foreigners.
Polish Consul-General Joanna Kozinska-Frybes recalled that while her country was under martial law 30 years ago, Gruber arranged to have a camera smuggled to imprisoned Solidarity activists.
Subsequently, the photos of the prisoners were published around the world, with one showing Kozinska-Frybes’ husband.
The Polish diplomat also noted that Gruber’s articles, lectures and books were “not only filling the empty virtual space, but recreating the real one: of Jews in Poland, encouraging them to rediscover their roots,” while lauding the reporter’s “personal courage, honesty and modesty.”
November 10, 2011 | 10:32 pm
Posted by Tom Tugend
The Holocaust is so immense that it can’t be grasped in its entirety, but only in its component parts, moment by moment, story by story.
So observes Michael Berenbaum of the American Jewish University at the beginning of “Engineering Evil,” a film that seeks to identify the mechanism and bureaucratic underpinning of the Final Solution.
The History Channel will broadcast the two-hour documentary on Nov. 15, starting at 9 p.m.
The vaunted German efficiency and punctilious devotion to detail are duly noted and illustrated. As one commentator notes, “Talent, energy, imagination, qualities which we generally admire” were lavished on the master plan to exterminate six million Jews.
There are no startling revelations in “Engineering Evil”—not a particularly rousing title—but the film tries to put the mass of details into some kind of order, by grouping them into various sub-categories.
First is “Definition,” of who is a Jew, according to Nazi lore, and why he is a threat to the Aryan Reich. “Expropriation” is illustrated by a board game with the player who can deport the most Jews crowned as the winner.
Subsequent chapter headings are “Concentration,” the formation of camps and ghettos, “Deportation,” with trains running endlessly, and finally, “Death Camps,” the end of the line.
Erik Nelson, the film’s director and producer, insert various camera tricks into the narrative. Sometimes they work, as when he contrasts the 44 railroad tracks leading to Auschwitz with the 21 tracks sufficient to serve New York’s Penn Station.
At other times, the tricks jar, as when the ghosts of SS officers suddenly materialize, or when post-war visitors to campsites walk backwards out of the picture.
It will come as no surprise that when the SS men and camp guards finished their shifts brutalizing or killing prisoners, they acted pretty much like any folks after a hard day’s work, joining in sing-alongs, visiting book fairs and taking trips to the countryside.
“Engineering Evil” holds few revelations to even a casual student of the Holocaust, but it brings home one useful lesson. The vast enterprise of the Final Solution was not carried out by robotic men and women, just following orders.
It took initiative, ingenuity and dedicated effort to exterminate millions of human beings.
November 10, 2011 | 3:31 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Billy Crystal has announced he will be hosting the 2012 Oscars, replacing Eddie Murphy who withdrew yesterday.
Crystal made the announcement on his Twitter account:
“Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show.”
This will be Crystal’s ninth hosting gig with the Academy Awards.
November 10, 2011 | 10:34 am
Posted by Jay Firestone
I couldn’t help but think of my college years at Camp Randall, watching the Wisconsin Badgers totally demolish some unknown Midwestern school, like Akron or Western Illinois. Of course, the Ayatollah is no Barry Alvarez or Bret Bielema.
I wonder what they’ll play…‘Twist and Shout’ or ‘Swing Town’?
November 9, 2011 | 5:37 pm
Posted by Jared Baker
On Wed. afternoon, a group of demonstrators shut down traffic at the corner of Wilshire and Westwood Boulevards in protest of tuition increases and budget cuts for California universities.
The protest was organized by a local branch of the ReFund California Coalition, an organization dedicated to making “Wall Street banks pay for destroying jobs and neighborhoods,” as advertised on its Web site.
According to a report by the local ABC News affiliate, the group of about 200, many of whom were students, marched from Bruin Plaza to a nearby bank.
Unconfirmed reports said that the protest began around 1 p.m., and that at one point protesters were lying in the middle of the street.
Michael Weinstein, postdoctoral fellow at UCLA, told The Journal that at around 3:30 p.m. police had just begun clearing caution tape and the three helicopters had left the scene.
Westwood-Century City Patch is reporting that 11 protesters were arrested.
Metro LA Alerts posted on Twitter at 3 that bus Lines 20, 720 and 761 would be delayed as they were rerouted around the disturbance. Normal routes resumed at 3:50, but Metro LA warns riders to expect residual delays through rush hour.
Starting with today’s protest, the ReFund California Coalition has organized a Public Education Action Week to last through Nov. 16 to focus specifically on issues related to financing at schools universities throughout California. Their next event is on Nov. 16, when they plan to attend the CSU Trustees meeting.
November 9, 2011 | 12:04 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Eddie Murphy has withdrawn as host of the Oscars following Brett Ratner’s resignation, which was announced yesterday, according to a press release from The Academy Awards. Murphy starred in Ratner’s recent film Tower Heist. Here is the release:
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak announced that Eddie Murphy has withdrawn as host of the 84th Academy Awards. “I appreciate how Eddie feels about losing his creative partner, Brett Ratner, and we all wish him well,” said Sherak.
Commented Murphy, “First and foremost I want to say that I completely understand and support each party’s decision with regard to a change of producers for this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I’m sure that the new production team and host will do an equally great job.”
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar® presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.