Joint Statement in Response to Yehuda Levin on the Death of Leiby Kletzky.

The murder of Leiby Kletzky was a tragic event that has brought together people of all faiths and creeds in grief and heartache. Young Leiby’s death reminds us that consolation comes from all peoples, not just peoples of a particular stripe.


The disgusting attribution made by Yehuda Levin, that young Leiby’s death happened because of the recent acceptance of same sex marriage in the state of New York is a bastardization of Jewish law and a deep insensitivity to the family of this innocent and sweet child. Yehuda Levin’s public displays are an abomination.


Some in the Jewish faith might be opposed to marriage for gay men and lesbians while others celebrate this law as a watershed moment of our religious history . In essence, those differing views are the beauty of Judaism; different colors and voices that make the tapestry and harmony of the Jewish religion.

  As our Sages teach: “These and these are the voice of the Living God.” But, no one in our tradition can take any comfort in the senseless death of this young boy, regardless of his religion, background or orientation.


Our good senses might tell us to ignore such fringe behavior exemplified by Yehuda Levin. However, trivializing the murder of this boy undermines the very core principles that are undeniably part of our Jewish faith. For this reason, we cannot sit by silently while the props and garb of Judaism are being used in disguise to espouse un-Jewish behavior.


We condemn, without reservation, these deeply painful correlations of Leiby’s death. We offer our condolences to the Kletzky family. May Leiby Kletzky’s soul be bound in the bond of life. May his memory be a blessing.


Rabbi Denise 

 L. Eger

Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood, CA

Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner

Temple Emanu-El, Closter NJ

A Little Advice to Prepare for Marriage Equality in New York

All eyes will still be on New York in the coming weeks as the state prepares for Marriage Equality! I learned a lot in the run-up to wedding mania here in California in 2008.  So I thought I would share some tips with those in New York.

Clergy, officiants and recorders: Meet together with your country registrars who will issue the licenses.  Help form a task force to work out the first days when the big rush will happen.  Help them think through their own bureaucracy and yes-how the forms should and must change.  We did that here in Los Angeles County. Our County Clerk Dean Logan and his team met with us and worked directly with a group of us to help ease the rush of the first weeks!

Clergy and other officients:  Know how you will change or modify the words of the ceremony.  Will you say husband and husband?  Partners for life? Spouses?  Will you keep antiquated vows like, love honor cherish and obey?  Does anyone really still use obey?  I certainly don’t.

Couples who plan to get married: CONSULT AN ATTORNEY AND A TAX PROFESSIONAL.  There are many fiscal implicatiions in getting married.  Sign a pre-nup agreement it doesn’t mean you don’t love each other. In fact just the opposite. It does mean you love one another enough to imagine that if it didn’t work out-you have the basics outlined.

The federal government doesn’t yet recognize our unions and so while you might be married in New York-your federal income tax is as a single. Being in love and getting married doesn’t mean you have to be financially stupid!

Couples Getting Married: Even if you have been together for a long time-consider some pre-marital counseling. That piece of paper and that ring changes things.  Don’t just assume it will all be the same.  It won’t! You will see yourselves differently and others will see you differently.

One of the most interesting phenomena of the marriage ceremony is that it takes two unrelated people and makes them next of kin–literally-like blood family! So poof you are related! It is a different way to think about this marriage bond.  That is why others see you differently. You are a family in a new way even if you have been together for decades!

Couples getting married: Remember if you are having a wedding ceremony-complete with flowers, and cake  and maybe a rented hall and caterer. Your officiant should be given an honorarium as well. Don’t just assume the local pastor will be available.  He or she will have many weddings on their plate.  They may have a fee.  Be prepared. It is not a free service. This is how people make their living, just like the baker, the travel agent who books your honeymoon and the guy in the tuxedo shop who rented you the tuxedos! There is paperwork that has to be completed.  So don’t bristle if your rabbi, cantor, minister or priest has a financial requirement for their services.

Couples: Expect everyone to want to attend!  In my almost 25 year experience of being a rabbi and performing hundreds of weddings for gay people (both legally recognized and not) the gay weddings are better attended than the straight weddings.  Everyone wants to be there! So plan your numbers and your guest list accordingly!!!!

These are just a few.  But there are many others.  In another post I will cover a few more!  Happy Weddings!




A New York State of Mind

WOW! New York did it.  What a wonderful weekend of Gay Pride in New York and San Francisco too.  Marriage Equality is a reality in New York State.  Bravo to Governor Cuomo.  And we who advocate for marriage equality ought to say thank you and take note of the courage it took many of the legislators to step up.  There is still work to do. No Long Island legislator voted for marriage equality. Many in upstate New York didn’t either.  But the facts on the ground in 30 days–people getting married will work to change hearts and minds as it has in other places.

It is a glorious weekend. And a good time to celebrate. But on Monday let’s get back to working hard not only for marriage equality but for full equality for LGBT folks across the nation.  People are still fired for being gay, still denied housing and at the federal level there is much work to be done!

So mazal tov New York. Thank you Governor Cuomo and the New York Senate and Assembly. See you all under the chupah!

C’mon New York

C’mon New York-let’s have a win for marriage equality! This week the State Assembly of New York passed a marriage equality bill. They voted for the Marriage Equality Act 80 – 63.  Gov. Cuomo (Andrew not Mario) has been campaigning for it and many prominent New Yorkers are speaking out in favor of Marriage Equality including New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg! But now it is up to the State Senate.  And the Republicans are reluctant to schedule the vote. The Catholic Church and New YorkArchbishop Timothy Dolan who is the National President for the US Council of Bishops  have been outspoken opponents of Marriage Equality in New York and because of the high number of Catholic legislators, he has been having great influence in holding up proceedings.  Dolan tries to distinguish between his opposition to marriage equality and discrimination against gay folks. But when you deny the civil right to protect your partner legally then it is discrimination dear Archbishop!

So far 31 Senators are on the record as supporting marriage equality. However to pass the bill they need 32 votes! Just one shy–C’mon New York.

Help New York

Are you a New Yorker? Former New Yorker? Know someone who lives in New York?  You can be a part of history by pushing for Marriage Equality there. The Governor, Andrew Cuomo has been pushing hard to get a Marriage Equality bill through the New York Legislature. But there is opposition especially from upstate Republicans and a few Dems too.  So if you are a New Yorker or you have family there, call the state representatives. Tell them its time for New York to enter the 21st century. Tell them to urge their legislators to come out for marriage equality.

Here is the link to the page for all the New York State Assembly members. Simply click on the name to get their phone number.

Here is the link to the page for all the New York State Senators. Simply click on the contact info to get their phone number.

Here is the contact number for Gov. Cuomo. Call him and urge him forward in his campaign for marriage equality:

Governor Andrew Cuomo
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224
Tel:            (518)474-8390