Goldilocks and the three Orthodoxies

Rabbi Steve Greenberg spoke at Limmud-Oz in Sydney, Australia on June 10.

“I AM attracted to both men and women. What do I do?” Steve Greenberg asked Israeli Charedi Rabbi Yosef Eliashiv when he was studying at yeshivah. He was expecting the traditional halachic response – that homosexuality is banned in the Torah because same-sex relations are not reproductive.

Instead, to Rabbi Greenberg’s shock and delight, Rabbi Eliashuv replied, “My friend, you have twice the power of love. Use it carefully.”

Although homosexuality has long existed as a human behaviour, it has not existed as an identity, but this is changing. Rabbi Greenberg established Jewish LGBT support network Eshel in 2010, which recently conducted a survey of 60 Orthodox rabbis. When asked if they would welcome into their shule two men who had fallen in love with each other but wanted to continue being observant, 59 of the rabbis said yes.

According to Rabbi Greenberg, there are three types of Orthodox responses to the LGBT issue in the Jewish community. The “Charedi formalists” feel “deeply threatened by what is claimed to be ‘the homosexual agenda’,” Rabbi Greenberg said. “I need to take that fear seriously – what are they afraid of? It never pays to demonise or dehumanise your enemies. It pays to understand them.” Continue reading on Australian Jewish News