Rabbi Steven Greenberg and Dr. Ellen Umansky explore what it means to be Orthodox and gay at Fairfield University lecture

Rabbi Steven Greenberg and Dr. Ellen Umansky explore what it means to be Orthodox and gay at Fairfield University lecture

Rabbi Steven Greenberg and Ellen Umansky, Ph.D., the Carl & Dorothy Bennett Professor of Judaic Studies at Fairfield University, will explore "What it means to be Orthodox and Gay" in a lecture co-sponsored by The Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University and the Jewish Community Center (JCC). The talk will be delivered at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, at the JCC on 4200 Park Ave., Bridgeport, Conn.

Rabbi Greenberg just published a book entitled "Wrestling with God and Men; Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition" (University of Wisconsin Press), which is the result of his own ten-year struggle to reconcile his two identities. The book presents readers with surprising interpretations of many known stories, including the creation story, the love of David and Jonathan, and the destruction of Sodom. Rabbi Greenberg also uses the book to introduce readers to specific biblical references which he believes can be interpreted as allusions to same sex love.

Rabbi Greenberg received his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Yeshiva University and his rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Elchanan Theological Seminary. He is the first openly gay Orthodox Rabbi and a founder of the Jerusalem Open House.

Rabbi Greenberg has also appeared in the documentary film, "Trembling Before

G-d," which is about gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews. After the film's release in October 2001, Rabbi Greenberg joined the filmmaker, Sandi Simcha DuBowski, in an outreach program carrying the film across the globe for a tool of spiritual renewal, community dialogue and social change.

"In every tradition there will be those pressing for a rich conversation and those who are trying to suppress it," said Rabbi Greenberg in an interview with "Spirituality and Health" magazine. "It's a question of aligning with the legitimacy of questions, of not assuming any one stopping place is the absolute and unchangeable truth."

Dr. Umansky will be exploring the issue of being Orthodox and gay with Rabbi Greenberg. "I look forward to engaging Steve Greenberg in a dialogue about his theological views and greater sense of Jewish self-identity," said Dr. Umansky. "His 'Wrestling with God and Men' is a challenging, moving, and groundbreaking book - one of the best I've read in a long time. In fact, on the evening after our dialogue at the JCC, Rabbi Greenberg and I will be at the Koret Jewish Book Awards dinner in San Francisco, where I will be awarding him the prize for the best book on Jewish philosophy and thought written in 2004."

Dr. Umansky received her Ph.D. in religion from Columbia University in 1981. Since then she has taught at various institutions including Princeton University, Vassar College and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Currently, she serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and on the Academic Advisory Boards of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City and the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

The lecture is open to the public, but space is limited and tickets are required. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12.50 at the door. Students are admitted free with I.D. For information and to register, please contact Sue Cazary, JCC (203) 372-6567 ext. 127.

Posted On: 03-16-2005 10:03 AM

Volume: 37 Number: 195