Orthodox Union Statement on Today’s Supreme Court Rulings | Orthodox Union

In publishing the following statement from the Orthodox Union, Aleph Melbourne reiterates it’s unconditional core value of supporting equal rights for all people.


Today, the leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America issued the following statement:

“In response to the decisions announced today by the United States Supreme Court with reference to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, we reiterate the historical position of the Jewish faith, enunciated unequivocally in our Bible, Talmud and Codes, which forbids homosexual relationships and condemns the institutionalization of such relationships as marriages. Our religion is emphatic in defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Our beliefs in this regard are unalterable. At the same time, we note that Judaism teaches respect for others and we condemn discrimination against individuals.

We are grateful that we live in a democratic society, in which all religions are free to express their opinions about social issues and to advocate vigorously for those opinions. The reason we opt to express our viewpoint in a public forum is because we believe that our Divine system of law not only dictates our beliefs and behaviors, but also represents a system of universal morality, and therefore can stake a claim in the national discourse. That morality, expressed in what has broadly been labeled Judeo-Christian ethics, has long had a place in American law and jurisprudence.

We also recognize that no religion has the right to dictate its beliefs to the entire body politic and we do not expect that secular law will always align with our viewpoint. Ultimately, decisions on social policy remain with the democratic process, and today the process has spoken and we accord the process and its result the utmost respect.

The Orthodox Union is proud to assert its beliefs and principles in the public forum, and will continue to do so in a manner that is tolerant and respectful of all of our nation’s citizens, but which is also authentically based upon our sacred ancient texts and time-honored traditions.”

OU | Enhancing Jewish Life

MR: Response to Orthodox Rabbis opposition to same-sex marriage

Aleph Melbourne Media Release
Response to Orthodox Rabbis opposition to same-sex marriage

October 30 2013

Today the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, the Rabbinical Council of NSW and the Rabbinical Council of Victoria issued a joint statement reiterating their previous opposition to same-sex marriage.  This was done in response to legislation passed in the Australian Capital Territory last week allowing same-sex marriage to be performed in the territory.

Aleph Melbourne expresses strong opposition to religious leaders interfering in matters of civil law.  Further we request Orthodox Jewish Rabbis stop hindering the efforts to break down legal discrimination faced by couples excluded from marriage on the grounds of gender.

Co-convenor Michael Barnett said: “Whilst Orthodox Rabbis have responsibility to uphold their religious laws, they should be reminded that these responsibilities do not extend into civil law”.

Barnett added “Australia is a secular country that grants its citizens the right to both freedom of religion and freedom from religion.  There is no room in our society for Orthodox Jewish rabbis to impose their uncompromising values on the rest of Australian society.  If they don’t want a same-sex marriage, then they don’t have to have one, as rewarding as they can be”.

Religious leaders can rest assured that there is no legislation in force that will require them to solemnise any marriage against their will, including same-sex marriages, and there is no intention for such legislation to be passed.

Aleph Melbourne continues to praise the Australian Progressive and Conservative Jewish communities’ leadership for their strong and continued support of marriage equality at the federal level.

Michael Barnett / 0417-595-541


Rabbis say “No” to same sex marriage | J-Wire

Rabbis say “No” to same sex marriage

October 30, 2013 by J-Wire Staff

The Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia , The Rabbinical Council of NSW and The Rabbinical Council of Victoria have given support to ACT Rabbi Shmueli Feldman who joins the  Federal Government in opposing ACT in legislating for same sex marriage.

The statement was signed by Rabbi Moshe Gutnick representing ORA, Rabbi Yehoram Ullman representing the Rabbinical Council of NSW and Rabbi Meir S Kluwgant representing the Rabbinical Council of Victoria.

The statement reads: “While every human is created in the image of G-d and must accordingly be granted respect and indeed love, and no person may be discriminated against under any circumstances , the unequivocal teaching, divinely ordained in our Holy Torah and expressed in the Codes of Jewish Law, is that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Judaism considers this to be a divine imperative incumbent upon all humanity.

As it was in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve , and  again taught at the time G-d revealed himself to our people at Mount Sinai and gave the world the ten commandments; from then until this very day , the holy covenant of marriage is and will only ever be, the divinely blessed union between a man and a woman. The word and law of our Lord shall endure for all eternity.”

Sharley McLean – In Remembrance | Peter Tatchell Foundation


Sharley McLean – In Remembrance

Sharley McLeanposted by Peter Tatchell … on Mon, 28/10/2013 – 12:42

Feminist, lesbian and survivor of Nazi fascism

London, UK – 28 October 2013

Sharley McLean – Feminist, lesbian and survivor of Nazi fascism – died on 26 October 2013, aged 90.

“Born in Germany in 1923, both Sharley’s parents and many of her extended family died in the Holocaust. Her father was a socialist and her mother was Jewish. She fled to Britain as a teenage refugee from Nazi Germany in 1939, in one of the last transports of children allowed to leave Germany before the Nazis closed the borders. Her gay uncle, Kurt Bach, a left-wing activist, was arrested by the Gestapo in a gay bar in Berlin in 1937, and died in Sachsenhausen concentration camp,” recalls Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

“Sharley was a wonderful woman and campaigner. I was honoured to know her and, in the 1980s, to help publicise her remarkable personal story. She participated in my early campaigns to document and publicise the experiences of LGBT Holocaust survivors – and later to commemorate them and the service personnel who died fighting Nazi fascism.

“Until the mid-1980s, it was forbidden to lay a pink triangle wreath at the Cenotaph in remembrance of the LGBT victims of fascism and of LGBT service personnel who fought to defeat Nazism. The wreaths we laid were swiftly removed. She helped me and others overturn the wreath ban.

“Prior to the late 1990s, the Royal British Legion refused to acknowledge that LGBT people has served and died in the armed forces. It would not allow a LGBT war veterans contingent to march in the official Remembrance Day parade. Sharley worked with us to challenge this exclusion.

“She joined and spoke at our V-E (Victory in Europe) Day commemorations at the Cenotaph in the 1980s and, a decade later, at the Queer Remembrance Day vigils at the Cenotaph, organised by the LGBT campaign group OutRage! The last one she spoke at was on 2 November 1997.

“Sharley was a long-time activist in the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, and was a volunteer with the Terrence Higgins Trust in the 1980s. She was a passionate supporter of the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association.

“She will be long remembered with admiration and appreciation,” said Mr Tatchell.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell
Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Email: Peter@PeterTatchellFoundation.org
Web: www.petertatchellfoundation.org

Response to “Statement by Abrahamic Faith Leaders of Canberra”

Aleph Melbourne – Media Release
October 21 2013

Response to Statement by Abrahamic Faith Leaders of Canberra

Aleph Melbourne expresses extreme disappointment with those religious leaders in the Jewish community who continue to object to proposed changes to instruments of civil law that do not impact their ability to observe their religion or undertake their religious beliefs and obligations.

Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett called on clerics who wish to restrict the civil liberties of wider society to reflect on their own civil liberties and their ability to observe their faith without interference from government.  Barnett said: “These meddlesome rabbis sing a very different tune when the focus turns to matters of ritual circumcision or kosher slaughtering of animals and do not tolerate any government interference.  Yet they wish to interfere in matters of civil marriage, an area that does not impact them, and demand respect in doing so.”

Barnett added: “Similarly, these particular rabbis should respect the freedoms of other members of society to live their lives as they wish and recognise their personal relationships under civil law.  No rabbi will ever be forced to perform a marriage they object to and accordingly, they have no rational or valid grounds for concern or precedent to call on.”

Aleph Melbourne calls on Rabbi Shmuel Feldman to distance himself from this and any other campaign that aims to impinge on the civil liberties of all citizens who wish to avail themselves of a marriage license under the proposed ACT legislation.

Michael Barnett.
Co-convenor, Aleph Melbourne.

The following statement was published through the Australian Christian Lobby on October 21, 2013.

Statement by Abrahamic Faith Leaders of Canberra

Below is a copy of a statement of faith by Seven faith leaders here in Canberra that was released today ahead of the ACT Marriage Equality Bill that is expected to be debated tomorrow.

Statement by Abrahamic Faith Leaders of Canberra
21 October 2013

Seventy percent of Australians identify with an Abrahamic religion – Christianity, Islam and Judaism. As leaders of several of these faith traditions, we have gathered to share our concerns about the ACT Government’s proposed same sex marriage legislation. We are concerned for the long-term risks of such a Bill for our society.
While affirming the inherent dignity of all human beings, our faith traditions also affirm the traditional concept of marriage between a man and a woman as being for the good of the individual, the family and society.
We invite the wider community to join with us in calling for the Bill to be subject to community consultation through the normal Legislative Assembly Committee process.

Imam Adama Konda, Canberra Islamic Centre
Arnold Cummins, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Pastor Sean Stanton, Australian Christian Churches, Canberra
Bishop Trevor Edwards, Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn
Pastor BJ Hayes, Canberra National Adventist Church
Monsignor John Woods, Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn
Rabbi Shmuel Feldman, Rabbi for Canberra and Region.

Heaven Bent

Heaven Bent coverHeaven Bent : Australian lesbian,gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex experiences of faith, religion and spirituality.

Edited by Luke Gahan and Tiffany Jones, with a foreword by Senator Louise Pratt,

Published September 2013, Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne.

paperback RRP: $29.95 | ISBN: 978-0-9874037-4-2 | 334 pp.

Listed below are the five contributors who have a Jewish connection.

David Rosenberg

Born in Jerusalem, David and his family moved to Australia when he was 3 months old. He grew up in a Jewish Orthodox community in Sydney and currently lives in close to his family in the prominent Jewish neighbourhood of Bondi Junction. When his community discovered his same-sex attraction, Rosenberg was sent to New Jersey USA to attend a Jewish ex-gay program known as ‘JONAH’ – Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality. Today, David and his husband Elcid are both active members of the Sydney Gay Jewish group ‘Dayenu’ and attend a Masorti congregation that welcomes all people no matter what their background or status. Rosenberg has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from the University of New South Wales and is currently undertaking a postgraduate degree in law. In January 2013 David and his partner officially became husbands, in a Jewish ceremony conducted by their Rabbi.

Ellen Kessler

Ellen migrated to Australia from the United States in 1989 on ‘Strong Humanitarian Grounds’ on the basis of her same sex relationship. Ellen has spent her life writing, and when her spiritual beliefs became more self-evident in 2007 she began connecting the two. Although she does not invest much conviction in the dogma of Judaism, it is undeniable that her Jewish faith, and in turn the mysticism of the Kabbalah, has helped her to develop personally and spiritually. Ellen now lives in Brunswick Victoria and works as a community development officer in the western suburbs.

Sally Goldner

Sally Goldner has been an active participant in Melbourne’s queer community for the last fifteen years. This includes ongoing involvement with TransGender Victoria, Radio 3CR’s “Out of the Pan,” Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, and Bisexual Alliance Victoria. Previous involvement includes PolyVic, Zoe Belle Gender Centre, BENT TV and Seahorse Club of Victoria. She is the focus of an autobiographical documentary “Sally’s Story” and was noted in The Age’s Top 100 most creative and influential people in Melbourne in 2011. She is also a spoken word performer and stand-up comedian. Brought into the world via two Jewish parents, Sally describes herself as ‘technically Jewish.’ An incredibly diverse range of religious and spiritual experiences has enriched her life. As a teenager, Sally attended the all-boys Brighton Anglican Grammar School in Melbourne and while at university Sally joined the Australian Union of Jewish Students on a tour of Israel and became deeply fascinated by the Bahá’í Faith. Sally has given an address at the Metropolitan Community Church in Melbourne and has a connection to Wiccan and Pagan Spirituality.

Kevin Ekendahl

Kevin Ekendahl is the Liberal Party candidate for the federal seat of Melbourne Ports. Often known as the “Bagel Belt” of Melbourne, the electorate sees the conservative Jewish communities living next door to a growing LGBTI community. The clash between religion and the secular is central to the spiritual journey of Kevin – a Jewish man who was baptised Catholic at age seven. Kevin’s maternal grandparents left the Franco religious dictatorship of Spain to seek freedom in Australia. His grandparents struggle for secular government and freedom of choice had an incredible impact on Kevin’s spiritual and political journey. Ekendahl has an incredible sense of spirituality and while at high school he was a member of ‘The Solidarity of Our Lady’ – a group run by the more religious students. Kevin’s family afforded him the choice to choose his own path in life – a value that he desires to share with the people of Melbourne Ports.

David L Shmerler

Dr David L Shmerler PhD is the Director of Psychological Services and the outgoing Director of the pre-doctoral Internship Training program at Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn, New York. Dr Shmerler also maintains a private clinical practice in Manhattan where he specializes in work with the LGBT community. Additionally, Dr Shmerler has substantial experience working with HIV+ individuals, through both his past affiliation with clinical research programs and current provision of training to the Kings County psychology trainees. As part of the didactic seminar series on cross-cultural treatment issues, Dr Shmerler provides annual training on clinical work with LGBT individuals. Dr Shmerler is an out gay, Jewish man and is engaged to be married to Dr Eric Rodriguez, his co-author and long-term partner of over twelve years.

Why Jews should join the fight for gay rights in Russia | Haaretz

Why Jews should join the fight for gay rights in Russia | Haaretz.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Spiritual Leader of Israel’s Sephardic Jews, Dies at 93 | NYTimes.com

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Spiritual Leader of Israel’s Sephardic Jews, Dies at 93 | NYTimes.com.

“Rabbi Yosef’s weekly sermons, delivered on Saturday nights after the Sabbath, were broadcast by satellite to wide audiences and, in the last few years, uploaded to YouTube. While dealing with the intricacies of the laws of the Sabbath and festivals, the sermons also became the rabbi’s platform for lashing out against those he despised — rival politicians, gay people and perceived enemies of Israel.”

Bent TV – Queer Young Thing: Religion and Queer Youth (Sep 2 2013)

Queer Young Thing

Monday September 02, 2013
Host: Dylan Adler

Topic: Religion and Queer Youth

Guests (Youth): Anthony, Sunny, Kassy
Guests (Elders): Matt Glover (MGA Counselling Services), Michael Barnett (Aleph Melbourne), Andrew Wheatland (The Spirit Lounge – Joy 94.9)

Segment One: Dylan introduces his youth guests, who discuss their individual experiences of religion, what it means to them, and issues and confrontations they have encountered in following their beliefs.

Segment Two: We watch a movie by Marco Fink from Minus18, Religion and Queer Youth

Segment Three: Our youth guests are joined by a group of elders, who assist in exploring further the panels combined experiences and questions of religion and its meaning to them, and the GLBTI community.

(YouTube: “QYT: Queer Young Thing – Religion, 02SEP13”)