Biggest ever Jewish contingent at Pride March 2016

Melbourne’s Jewish Community came out in force on Sunday January 31 2016 to participate in the annual Pride March in St Kilda.  The largest contingent to date, this year saw community stalwarts Aleph Melbourne and the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria joined by a strong presence from youth groups Habonim Dror, SKIF, Netzer and Hashomer Hatzair.  Members of AUJS and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria also marched in solidarity.

From 20160131 Pride March

Pride March celebrates the rich diversity of Melbourne’s LGBTIQ community.  Aleph Melbourne has participated every year since 1997.  The significant presence of Jewish youth groups in Pride March over the past three years shows that increasingly, young people are passionate about equality, inclusion, respect and social justice.

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Michael Barnett of Aleph Melbourne on LGBTIQ issues | The Shtick S42-07

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Statement on Moshe Feiglin’s Visit to Australia | NIF

Twelve Jewish and Zionist organisations in Australia from across the religious, political and social spectrum have come together to issue a statement regarding former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin’s visit to Australia this month.


The statement reads:

“Moshe Feiglin’s views on women, homosexuality and Palestinian citizens of Israel are inconsistent with Jewish values. They have no place in a modern democracy such as Israel that was established on the principle of respecting the human rights of all its minorities.”

The following organisations have signed on to the statement:

  • Aleph Melbourne
  • Ameinu Australia
  • Australian Reform Zionist Association
  • Habonim Dror Australia
  • Hashomer Hatzair Australia
  • Hineni Australia
  • Jewish Labour Bund and SKIF
  • Keshet Australia
  • Netzer Australia
  • New Israel Fund Australia
  • Progressive Judaism Victoria
  • Shira Hadasha Synagogue

In addition, a number of the organisations’ leaders have commented:

Dr Ilana Snyder, President of New Israel Fund Australia, said:

“The views of many people in the Australian Jewish community do not line up with Moshe Feiglin’s which is why it is important to point out when such anti-democratic values are being promoted. NIF is working hard in Israel to bring different sectors together, promote shared society and coexistence, and uphold the values of the Declaration of Independence.”

Johnny Baker, President of Ameinu Australia, said:

“Whilst we respect the right of different voices to be heard in our community, we are equally concerned that the impending visit of Israeli extremist, Moishe Feiglin, will bring the Jewish community into disrepute and play into the hands of our adversaries.”

Daniel Stiglec, Meta’em (Vice President & Community Liason) of Hashomer Hatzair, said:

“Hashomer Hatzair Australia believes Moshe Feiglin’s views about minority groups in Israel are divisive and detrimental to the character of the Jewish State. Whilst he has the right to freedom of speech, we condemn his views and would like to highlight the fact that these are not the views of Australian Jewry and the larger Israeli mainstream society.”

Shira Appelboom, Federal Mazkira (Chairperson) of Netzer Australia, said:

“Moshe Feiglin’s disrespect for marginalised groups in Israel goes against Netzer Australia’s fundamental beliefs in equality and respect for all human life. Though he is entitled to his views, we strongly believe they are an obstacle to the pursuit of peace and democracy in Israel.”

Brian Samuel, President of Progressive Judaism Victoria, said:

“We are concerned about Mr Feiglin’s visit to Melbourne. He is a disruptive person in the Jewish world and shares few values with the Jewish community.”

Jonathan Barnett, President of Keshet Australia, said:

“The board of Keshet Australia, wishes to express our concern regarding the proposed visit by Mr Feiglin to Australia. Keshet aspires to encourage and teach inclusivity. Mr Feiglin’s philosophy is diametrically opposed to our core values. Mr Feiglin has expressed views which seek to oppose the inclusivity and rights of GLBT Jews. Keshet Australia believes his views are damaging and hurtful to people here and in Israel. We feel it is incumbent on us to highlight to the greater community that such views are not held or supported by most Jewish people in Australia or elsewhere.”

Barbara Ford, Acting President of the Australian Reform Zionist Association (ARZA), said:

“ARZA Australia supports discussion about sensitive issues in Israel, including the treatment of minorities, the status of women and the issues of pluralism and sexual orientation. However, such discussions should be respectful and focussed on constructive dialogue. It is highly questionable if the views and presentation of Moshe Feiglin meet these basic criteria.”

New Israel Fund Australia
Habonim Dror
Hashomer Hatzair
Progressive Judaism Victoria
Shira Hadasha

### ENDS ###

For more information, please contact:

Liam Getreu
Executive Director, NIF Australia
0413 374 401

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JCCV Statement on Moshe Feiglin Visit

JCCV Statement on Moshe Feiglin Visit

12 October 2015

Jennifer Huppert, President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) stated,

“Moshe Feiglin has expressed extremist views in the past regarding women, sexual orientation and political issues which are inconsistent with the values and policies of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV).  These sorts of views are not representative of the Victorian Jewish community.  They are damaging to social inclusion and social cohesion in our community, and we strongly condemn these divisive and corrosive statements.

In particular, the JCCV is opposed to any homophobia, biphobia or transphobia by whomever or whoever expresses it. It has no place in our community. Everyone of any sexual orientation or gender identity should be respected and be given equal opportunity to participate in and contribute to the community.”

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MR: Aleph Melbourne expresses alarm at Melbourne visit by Moshe Feiglin

October 9 2015



The imminent visit by Moshe Feiglin to Melbourne has raised alarm by many organisations within the Melbourne Jewish community.  Aleph Melbourne is signatory to a collective statement from these organisations.

Despite claiming to support “human rights” for LGBTIQ people, Moshe Feiglin opposes full societal inclusion and equality of LGBTIQ people, as reported in the Jerusalem Post in 2013:

Feiglin said. “When you’re trying to change the value system, that pushes me into the closet!” Families, he stated, are the foundation stone of society and the nation, and he said he would not do anything to harm what he called the “classic” family structure of one man, one woman and their children.

Aleph convenor Michael Barnett said: “Any Holocaust denier or anti-Semite would be hounded out of town by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the Anti-Defamation Commission, yet despite these organisations calling for respect for LGBTIQ people, they have remained silent on this visit from a person who does not respect LGBTIQ people.  That is unacceptable.  This man represents intolerance and intolerance is unacceptable to a cohesive and safe community.”

Aleph Melbourne calls on the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the Anti-Defamation Commission to express their extreme disappointment at the Jewish organisations that are hosting Moshe Feiglin during his visit to Melbourne, in addition to their outrage at his visit.


Contact Michael Barnett for further comment on 0417-595-541

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Aleph Melbourne Celebrates 20 Years | JOY 94.9

Aleph Melbourne Celebrates 20 Years

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Former Bialik College student marries her same-sex partner

Today I received a copy of the Bialik College newsletter Shelanu (Issue 4, Sep 2015).  On the back page is a list of Births, Engagements and Marriages.  Ever hopeful, my eye was caught by the marriage announcement of 2004 student Deborah Konopnicki to Amy Hespe.  Ground breaking news.  Mazal Tov!

Bialik Shelanu - Sep 2015 - Deborah Konopnicki married to Amy Hespe

To the best of my knowledge Deborah is the first female past student of Bialik College to marry a same-sex partner and the first to be announced in the school newsletter.  As a past student of Bialik College myself (1981-83) I am probably the first (male) past student of the school to marry a same-sex partner, having travelled to New Zealand in January 2014 to undertake the formalities.**

Aleph Melbourne wishes Deborah and Amy many years of happiness together (alongside all the other Bialik married couples).  Hopefully our marriages to our same-sex partners can be solemnised and/or recognised under Australian law sooner than later.


** We’ll gladly acknowledge as first any former student of Bialik College who has earlier married a same-sex or gender-diverse partner.

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MR: Aleph Melbourne marks 20 years with historical documentary



Aleph Melbourne is a social, support and advocacy group for same-sex attracted and gender diverse (LGBTIQ) people in Melbourne’s Jewish community.

Aleph Melbourne was formed in 1995 and is marking it’s 20th anniversary by making a short documentary.  The movie will cover all aspects of the group and the significant and positive impact it’s had on the community over the past 20 years.

Glen Eira City Council have given Aleph Melbourne a small grant of $3,300 for the project and we have engaged Youthworx Productions to make the documentary.  We aim to raise $10,000 to allow us to comfortably make 10-15 minutes of footage.  Additional funding will be gratefully welcomed to allow us to include more history, stories, interviews, photos, newspaper articles etc.

We are crowd-funding through IndieGoGo with all details are available at:
Major and premier (corporate) sponsorship packages are available.  Individual contributors are invited to select from packages that allow participation and acknowledgement in the documentary.

Aleph Melbourne Convenor Michael Barnett said “I am very excited in marking this important milestone by making a documentary of Aleph Melbourne at 20 years.  It is vitally important to record the history and achievements of our small group.  People will look back in years to come and understand the particular challenges of the time we lived in, in terms of recognition, acceptance and understanding of our sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The documentary is expected to be completed in the first half of 2016 however the initial crowd-funding campaign has a closing deadline of October 8.

Michael Barnett – Convenor

Media resources
Aleph Melbourne logo – colour (lo-res, hi-res)
Campaign graphic: “Documenting 20 years”
Campaign graphic: “We’ve turned 20 – We’re making a doco”
YouTube: “Aleph turns 20! Help us tell the story”


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We’re making a documentary (and we need your help)

Click here to find out more about this exciting project:

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Media Release: Aleph Melbourne disappointed in unsatisfactory resignation letter of Rabbi Zvi Telsner




Aleph Melbourne acknowledges the overdue resignation of senior rabbi Zvi Telsner from the Yeshiva Centre in Melbourne but is disappointed with the unsatisfactory letter written in his name.

Whilst his resignation letter claims remorse for his actions, his apology falls short of addressing his claims that homosexual people can be cured of what he believes is an ailment.

To demonstrate genuine remorse for his harmful words Zvi Telsner must undertake secular education on homosexuality and strongly distance himself from any notion that homosexuality can either be cured or is abnormal.

As a senior religious leader in his community his authority combined with his ongoing intolerance of homosexuality will feed into the self-destructive outcomes that same-sex attracted people experience due to intolerance of their sexuality.

Homosexuality has not been considered an illness by mental health professionals for over 40 years and is now affirmed as a normal expression of human sexuality.  For any person to consider it curable demonstrates gross ignorance.

Victims of child sexual abuse who experience same-sex attraction will benefit by seeking support for their abuse from accredited mental health professionals, whilst avoiding any form of sexual orientation change efforts, such as reparative therapy.

The Australian Psychological Society and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists can provide referrals to suitably qualified practitioners.

Contact Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541 for further comment.


Letter from Rabbi Zvi Telsner:

י”ז אלול תשע”ה
1st September, 2015

Dear Yeshivah Community Members, Friends and Supporters,

As a senior Rabbi at the Yeshivah Centre I acknowledge and endorse its values, policies and message of continued support and compassion for victims of Child Sexual Abuse, their families and all of the community. Elul is a time to reflect on ones values and behaviours as we prepare to herald in the New Year.

I recognise that my conduct towards victims and their families did not demonstrate these values or behaviour to the extent necessary of a Rabbi in my position. Accordingly, I have decided to stand down from my position as Rabbi at the Yeshivah Centre, effective immediately.

We all must be aware of how our words and actions impact on others and therefore would like to take this opportunity to apologise for my conduct and urge everyone to show compassion and support towards victims and their families throughout the moised and broader community.

I wish the community all the best for a Ksiva Vechasima Tova, and a year full of blessings.

Yours Sincerely,
Rabbi Z. Telsner

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