Rabbi Steven Greenberg


Rabbi Steven Greenberg received his B.A. in philosophy from Yeshiva University and his rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He served served as a Senior Teaching Fellow at CLAL (National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership), a think tank, leadership training institute and resource center in New York City for over twenty years from 1986 to 2010. Steve is the first openly gay Orthodox Rabbi and a founder of the Jerusalem Open House, the Holy City’s lgbt community center.  After coming out publicly in 1999 Rabbi Greenberg appeared in the film, Trembling Before G-d, a documentary about gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews. Following the film’s release in October 2001, Steve joined the film maker, Sandi Simcha DuBowski, in an outreach project carrying the film across the globe in over 500 post-screening dialogues as a tool for spiritual renewal, social change and communal engagement.

In 2004 Rabbi Greenberg finished a book, the product of his ten-year struggle to reconcile his two “wrestling” identities, entitled Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition (University of Wisconsin Press). The book won the Koret Jewish Book Award for Philosophy and Thought in 2005.  In his book, Greenberg presents readers with surprising biblical interpretations of the creation story, the love of David and Jonathan, the destruction of Sodom, and the condemnatory verses of Leviticus. Drawing on a wide array of religious texts, Greenberg introduces readers to occasions of same-sex love in Talmudic narratives, medieval Jewish poetry and prose, and traditional Jewish case law literature. Ultimately, Greenberg argues that the historical record is more diverse and the law more open to reconsideration than is usually admitted in traditional contexts.  The spiritual and moral integrity of religions -- not to mention, the wellbeing and if not the very lives of queer people -- are all at stake when religious leaders take up the questions of gender and sexuality. 

Steve is presently the Founding Director of Eshel, a North American support, education and advocacy organization for LGBT Orthodox Jews and their families.  He lives in Boston with his husband, Steven Goldstein and his daughter Amalia.

(This biographical statement provided by Steven Greenberg.) 

Biography Date: November 2004; rev. July 2021

Additional Resources





Jewish (Orthodox) | Author/editor | Clergy Activist | Theology


“Rabbi Steven Greenberg | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed April 24, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/steven-greenberg.


“I met Steve in the late 1990s at a  Jewish/Gay conference in New York City.  I was a Reform Jew attending with my parents (and not my Christian boyfriend); he was the most attractive Orthodox Jew I had ever met. We chatted and had lunch once or twice afterwards. I gave him an unreasonably hard time about not coming out immediately (he had a plan). His beauty, integrity and lovingkindness made me think - for the only time in my life - what it would be like to be Orthodox (or at least married to one). The fact that I'm here writing this evidences the impact he made on me. I'll soon be marrying a wonderful (not Jewish) man but there's a small piece of my heart that's reserved for the vision Steve inspired.”
 – as remembered by Carey Wagner on June 29, 2017

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