Straight Rabbi at Gay Shul Set to Be Not-Quite-Married


Cohen and Margolius in an engagement photo.Photo: Lauren Rutten Photography

So what happens when the (straight) associate rabbi at the Village’s (gay) Congregation Beth Simchat Torah decides to get married in a state (New York) that doesn’t allow same-sex unions? Rabbi Ayelet Cohen will put on a lacey Carmen Marc Valvo gown this Sunday, walk down the aisle, make a commitment to her husband-to-be, Rabbi Marc Margolius, and throw a traditional Jewish reception — “Hava Nagilah,” raised chairs, food, cake, the whole megillah — for 200-odd guests at the Puck Building. But she won’t actually, legally get married. “This is one of the major social injustices of our time,” she said. “I cannot, in good conscience, participate in a system that actively excludes and discriminates against same-sex couples” — including her 4,000 congregants.

While New York’s top court ruled a year ago against same-sex marriages, Judaism’s Conservative movement in December voted to allow the ordination of gay rabbis and the celebration of same-sex commitment ceremonies. So Cohen and Margolius will have a Conservative Jewish ceremony but not get a state marriage license. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Cohen’s boss, will officiate, and she said she’s heard there’s a state law prohibiting clergy from performing a religious wedding ceremony without the legal component. “I’d be delighted if Robert Morgenthau decided to arrest me,” Kleinbaum laughed. Of course, he’s not invited. —Susan Avery

Straight Rabbi at Gay Shul Set to Be Not-Quite-Married