November 14, 2011
Rabbi marries Orthodox gay couple
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 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.