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.


This entry was posted in GLBTIQ, Jewish and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.