STATEMENT: A diverse coalition of residents’ associations, LGBTIQA+ advocacy groups, and faith groups have joined in a united call for Port Phillip to reconsider its stance on LGBTIQA+ inclusion. Read more here: https://bit.ly/3aq1Jd4
“Aleph Melbourne offers support to and advocates for the well-being of LGBTIQ Jews and their families, many of whom live in the City of Port Phillip. It is vital that they understand their city council fully values and includes them, and understands their needs,” said Aleph Melbourne Co-Convenor, Michael Barnett.
MEDIA RELEASE Aleph Melbourne commends Caulfield Hebrew Congregation on significant LGBTIQ+ diversity reform July 12 2020
Aleph Melbourne commends the board of Caulfield Hebrew Congregation (CHC) for taking an unequivocal stance against all intolerance of LGBTIQ+ people, and accepts a sincere apology from the board for recent comments made on social media by a CHC Vice President.*
By committing to undertake diversity training, and by accepting that intolerance and vilification directed at LGBTIQ+ people is unacceptable, the CHC board sends a strong message to trans and gender diverse, same-sex attracted, and intersex people in the Jewish community that they are valued, important and worthy.
We acknowledge CHC Rabbi Ralph Genende for his decade-plus leadership in being a proponent for the acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people.
Now with Caulfield Hebrew Congregation sending a clear message that Orthodox Judaism can embrace LGBTIQ+ diversity, Aleph Melbourne calls on all Orthodox synagogues in Melbourne and across Australia to stand in solidarity on this important stance.
Jewish radio station J-AIR, dedicated to combating hate, broadcasts an interview that vilifies gay men.
On Monday March 30 2020 Melbourne’s Jewish radio station J-AIR 87.8FM broadcast their regular syndication of the Tamar Yonah Show, which included an interview with Rabbi Mendel Kessin.
The full episode of the March 30 Tamar Yonah Show was first posted here* but has since been taken down. An archive of the podcast is here and a backup copy of the podcast can be heard here.
The description of this episode of the Tamar Yonah Show states (in part):
Internationally known lecturer on current events and the Bible, Rabbi Mendel Kessin, joins Tamar Yonah and talks about the meaning behind this worldwide pandemic, what we are supposed to learn, and DO, in order to merit seeing the coming of the Messiah. He talks about the fear of death, atonement, suffering, and the world-wide economic collapse, and tells us how we can protect ourselves, as we enter into the Messianic era.
Aleph Melbourne has transcribed Rabbi Kessin’s interview commentary from time point 12:46 to time point 14:06:
And basically he’s 98% finished, that’s how close we are to the redemption. Therefore what god wants to do is bring the redemption. However, there are certain problems that must be addressed by god in order for the redemption to actually happen. And what we begin to see is that the pandemic is an exact designer drug, if you want to use that expression, that will remove these problems. Ah, in other words the plague itself is a vehicle, is an instrument, to accelerate the messianic process by removing these major problems. What are they? You see. So therefore what we see is the following. The first major problem is that man has corrupted his nature. There is a tremendous amount of, ah, what’s called immorality in the world today. It’s widespread. There’s, in Hebrew it’s called “prichus” (פְּרִיצוּת). We want, we could say it’s also in the form of homosexuality, and gays and so on and so forth, where all of a sudden the gender differentiation is, is tremendously blurred. So that is an incredible corruption of man’s nature.
Listen to the relevant audio here:
Rabbi Kessin is saying that his god is using the coronavirus pandemic to bring on the coming of the messiah by cleansing society of immorality caused in part by the scourge of homosexual sex between gay men.
This amounts to hate speech that vilifies gay (and also bisexual) men. It squarely lays blame for the coronavirus pandemic at the feet of sexually active gay men.
Broadcasting this language could be problematic for J-AIR as it may fall foul of at least the narrowcasting Codes of Practice, which states:
1.3 Narrowcasters will not broadcast programs which are likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against or vilify any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preference, religion, age, colour, physical or mental disability, transgender status or HIV/AIDS status…
Significantly for J-AIR, who are currently seeking a community broadcasting licence, this shocking lapse of editorial judgement reflects terribly on the integrity and good character of the station.
In Parliament on March 2 2020, Tim Wilson MP described J-AIR as “an outstanding broadcasting service …” that “… has begun working closely with the Community Security Group (CSG) to combat the rise of anti-Semitism and ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community in Victoria…”.
It’s entirely disappointing to see a radio station so dedicated to being both an outstanding broadcasting service and wanting to combat hate, find itself in a position where it is fuelling the fires of hate.
Next time J-AIR supporter Tim Wilson is mid-shtup he might want to take a moment to reflect on how he is, according to Rabbi Kessin, contributing to the kind of immorality that is causing the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time he might also want to reflect on how his praise for an “outstanding broadcasting service” dedicated to combating hate accurately describes a radio station that allows vilification of gay men like himself to go to air.
J-AIR must offer an unqualified and sincere apology, both on air and in writing, for this grave mistake and also provide air time for an in-depth interview covering the harms of intolerance of LGBTIQ+ people.
More importantly, while it still has a licence, J-AIR must comply with broadcasting standards, set the highest standard, and never again broadcast hate speech.
An exploration of the transformation of attitudes toward LGBTIQ people within Melbourne’s Jewish community from the 1990s to current day. This session includes the screening of a 10 minute documentary “Aleph Melbourne – Celebrating 20 Years – 1995-2015”. It also includes an exploration of how the 2009 shooting at the Tel Aviv LGBT Youth Centre was the catalyst for a series of events that shattered the decade-long silence since the Victorian Jewish community leadership rejected the membership application of a gay men’s group to them endorsing marriage equality 8 years later.
Learning objectives/outcomes:A greater understanding and appreciation of the issues, sensitivities and nuances around LGBTIQ inclusion in Melbourne’s Jewish community.
Regretfully Aleph Melbourne will not be participating in the 2017 Pride March due to Midsumma keeping News Corp Australia as a sponsor. This breaks an annual tradition going back to 1997.
While News Corp journalists like Andrew Bolt, Mirada Devine and Rita Panahi are on a crusade to destroy transgender kids, the Safe Schools program and marriage equality, it is completely unacceptable for any LGBTIQ community organisation to accept money or in-kind support from them.
Thirteen-year old Tyrone Unsworth might not have had cause to take his own life if News Corp had not fuelled the fires of bigotry and intolerance. If Midsumma want to partner with News Corp then it must accept responsibility for Tyrone’s tragic death.
“This is the second year that News Corp have been a supporter of Midsumma (Herald Sun logo was used last year).”
Midsumma (Nov 25 2016)
Sadly this is the second year that Midsumma have had News Corp as a sponsor. Aleph Melbourne would not have participated in 2016 if this had become apparent at the time.
Aleph Melbourne calls on Midsumma to hold News Corp to account for their words and actions, along with returning any cash sponsorship or in-kind support.
ALEPH MELBOURNE EXPRESSES ALARM AT MELBOURNE VISIT BY MOSHE FEIGLIN
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.
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
J-Wire posted a story “Mardi Gras rocks” about Sydney’s GLBTIQ group Dayenu‘s participation in the Mardi Gras Parade. The following comment by Gil Solomon was approved by the J-Wire editor:
I don’t see a “Sydney Catholic GLBT Group” float (or any other denomination for that matter) so why do Jews have to overtly see the need to show to the world that they are both gay and Jewish?
The Jewish world has enough problems to contend with and I, being politically incorrect, categorically state I couldn’t care less what you people do behind closed doors but why do you see the need to hit us in the face that you’re a bunch of Jews. Go join some other float, as it nauseates me to think that you lot seem to think the Jewish community as a whole supports your blatant display of your sexual orientation.
I repeat, I couldn’t care less what you people do, but I am offended by the fact that you give your sexual preference a Jewish dimension.
Jo Silver from the JCCV posted this comment in response:
The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is proud to host a GLBTI Reference Group and support the No to Homophobia Campaign.
It’s wonderful to see that people feel ‘safe’ enough to openly participate in the Mardi Gras and express their unique Jewish identity as well. Well done!
The Reference Group is focused on raising awareness in our community that hurtful comments and nasty jibes can cause depression, anxiety and other well being issues for our GLBTI members. We are all people with feelings and emotions and we all have the right to open our door every day and face the world without feeling harassed.
A futher tweet from Aleph Melbourne reiterated the request for the ECAJ and NSW JBD to speak out:
If members of the Jewish community wish to participate in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, that is their right. If they wish to do so while openly identifying as Jews, that too is their right. Your comment that “[their] blatant displays of sexual orientation” should “remain behind closed doors” is an attack on their human dignity. It was not so long ago that Jews were being told that their ‘blatant displays’ of religious and national identity should ‘remain behind closed doors’. As neither you nor those you criticise act in any representative capacity, you and they are free to express yourselves as you wish. Australia as a nation has committed itself to mutual respect for the human dignity of all members of the community, despite any strongly held differences; recognition that disagreement is possible in ways that do not vilify other persons or their views; and avoidance of any public or private conduct that incites hatred, ridicule or contempt of another person or class of persons on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These are values that benefit all of us.”
It’s good to see these three organisations speaking out, to varying degrees, against homophobia and intolerance of homosexuality. They must continue to set a strong and positive example, to the entire Jewish community and to other faith communities, that all discrimination and intolerance is unacceptable.
Finally, take a few minutes to read the comment stream on the J-Wire story. The author of the contentious post unconvincingly attempted to clarify/justify his initial message in follow-up comments. Make of it what you will.