Jewish Museum of Australia: Midsumma Festival 2014 – When voices meet visions: an exploration of queer Jewish identity

Media Release
Jewish Museum of Australia

Midsumma Festival 2014 – When voices meet visions: an exploration of queer Jewish identity

“A community is too heavy to carry alone” – Deuteronomy Rabbah 1:10
This quote is featured in the current temporary exhibition Voices & Visions, now showing at the Jewish Museum.

The Jewish Museum of Australia is proud to be taking part in another year of the Midsumma Festival. This year’s event, When voices meet visions: an exploration of queer Jewish identity, uses the current Voices & Visions temporary exhibition, as the launchpad for a discussion about what it is to be gay and Jewish.

The exhibition features a series of posters designed by some of America’s most prominent graphic designers, who have responded to quotes by Jewish luminaries throughout history – ranging from Martin Buber to Susan Sontag to Maimonides. In the same vein, the panel will respond to the quotes featured in the exhibition, and relate them to their personal experiences.

Chairing the event will be Museum Director & CEO Rebecca Forgasz, and the panellists include psychologist Debbie Zaks, teacher Sandra Schneiderman and artist Sam Schoenbaum.

Rebecca Forgasz says:
“In Judaism we are encouraged to ask questions and find multiple interpretations of traditional texts, the premise being that these texts have infinite depth and eternal relevance. At this event we are asking the panellists to make their own meanings from the texts offered up in the Voices & Visions exhibition. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore queer culture in a Jewish context.”

Rebecca Forgasz is available for further comment and interviews.

For media enquiries please contact Elise Hearst on 8534 3612 or e.hearst@jewishmuseum.com.au

When voices meet visions: an exploration of queer Jewish identity
Thursday 30 January at 6.30pm
Jewish Museum of Australia
26 Alma Rd
St Kilda 3182
www.jewishmuseum.com.au

Elsternwick couple in Victoria’s first Jewish gay commitment ceremony as synagogue prepares to host first gay and lesbian festival celebration | Herald-Sun

Elsternwick couple in Victoria’s first Jewish gay commitment ceremony as synagogue prepares to host first gay and lesbian festival celebration

  • Nicole Precel
  • January 07, 2014 12:00AM
Ilana and Chrissie were the first gay couple to have a marriage ceremony at a Jewish synagogue in Melbourne at Temple Beth Is...

Ilana and Chrissie were the first gay couple to have a marriage ceremony at a Jewish synagogue in Melbourne at Temple Beth Israel. Picture: Adam Elwood Source: News Limited

WHEN Ilana Gelbart said “yes” to Krissy Adrian’s elaborate proposal, the issue wasn’t coming out of the closet, it was conversion.

“It was more difficult for me because Krissy had to get converted; when we got together­ she wasn’t Jewish,” Ms Gelbart said.

On August 18, the Elsternwick couple became the first gay couple in Victoria to have a Jewish commitment ceremony.

And now their progressive synagogue, Temple Beth Israel in St Kilda, is hosting the first-ever celebration of the Midsumma Gay and Lesbian Festival in a synagogue, on January 31, in partnership with Keshet, the national GLBTI Jewish advocacy group.

“Coming out as a lesbian was something I knew my parents would support me with and not judge me for,” Ms Gelbart said.

And with Judaism deeply entrenched in her family and her psyche, she said it had been wonderful TBI had “welcomed and accepted” them.

“We never stopped to wonder whether they would or wouldn’t (do a commitment ceremony); from the first day Rabbi Kim Ettlinger said, ‘Here’s how it goes’, we never thought we wouldn’t be allowed to,” Ms Gelbart said.

“It does put it out there for more gay and lesbian couples to understand they are welcome in progressive congregations.”

 

Ilana Gelbart and Krissy Adriaan at their ceremony at Temple Beth. Picture: Supplied

Ilana Gelbart and Krissy Adriaan at their ceremony at Temple Beth. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

The couple keep Shabbat every Friday night, don’t eat shellfish or pork and don’t mix meat and milk.

“We light the candles every week and try to go to synagogue every week,” Ms Gelbart said. “It’s all very much a part of our lives.”

The couple met at Monash University three years ago, and Ms Adrian converted to Judaism soon after.

“I didn’t ever ask her (to convert), that was just something that she wanted to do,” Ms Gelbert said.

Senior Rabbi Gersh Lazarow said TBI encouraged members of the Jewish GLBTI community to form a meaningful spiritual connection at the synagogue.

He said the January 31 Midsumma celebration would focus on inclusion, equality and human rights.

“While historically many from the GLBTI have felt isolated or shunned from faith-based organisations, Temple Beth Israel, as part of the Progressive Jewish movement, prides itself on principles of egalitarianism and respect for others,” Rabbi Lazarow said.

There will also be a Midsumma Mass on January 31 held at St Mark’s Anglican Church in Fitzroy.

Details: tbi.org.au or 9510 1488.