Letter to the Editor, Australian Jewish News, May 5 2023, p17
A flawed genius
AS much a genius and friend of Jews Barry Humphries was seen to be (AJN 28/04), these accolades fall short of him respecting transgender people. Consummate at presenting as a woman, Barry failed to appreciate the depth of hurt his words wielded when in 2016 he first ripped into the very heart of transgender identity. He proceeded to take further swipes at the LGBTIQ+ community in 2018, where he was shunned by the comedy community and beyond.
To see Jews laud a person who inflicts harm on vulnerable people makes me very uneasy. We cannot afford room for any intolerance, lest we wish to invite similar upon ourselves.
Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said: “White supremacy of this nature led to the persecution and murder of millions of Jews, LGBTIQ+ people and other minorities in World War II. There is no room for this ugly behaviour in Melbourne, or anywhere else. Transgender, gender diverse and all LGBTIQ+ people have a right to live in peace and safety, without fear of bigotry, transphobia or intolerance.”
Daniel Aghion KC, President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) said: “Vilification, in any form, has no place in Victoria.”, while Michael Barnett, Aleph Melbournesaid: “White supremacy of this nature lead to the persecution and murder of millions of Jews, LGBTIQ+ people and other minorities in World War 2. There is no room for this ugly behaviour in Melbourne, or anywhere else. Transgender, gender diverse and all LGBTIQ+ people have a right to live in peace and safety, without fear of bigotry, transphobia or intolerance.
Taking aim at what he called Deeming’s “extremist views and values on the issues of human sexuality and gender identity”, Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said, “When politicians like Moira Deeming align themselves with people like Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull who affiliate with neo-Nazi extremists they cross a line of no return.
“I cannot see how there is room for people like that in a political party that values human decency. Her expulsion from the party cannot come soon enough,” he said.
Other recipients whose work might go under the national radar, but were transformative, include Michael Barnett for service to the LGBTQ+ community, the palaeontologist Lesley Kool, and Leanne Miller for “significant service to women’s affairs, and to the Indigenous community”.
Barnett, a co-convener of Aleph Melbourne, said he worried about suicide rates and mental health issues in vulnerable young people, because of “relentless and pointless homophobic and transphobic intolerance”.
He worked hard to turn things around in one specific community.
“Over the years of my advocacy and activism I have seen Melbourne’s Jewish community become a beacon of LGBTIQ+ inclusion,” he said.
ALEPH Melbourne has hit back at Caulfield Chabad Lamplighter editor Mendy Rimler after he recycled what Aleph convenor Michael Barnett called “homophobic drivel”.
Late last week Aleph Melbourne, a support and advocacy group for Jewish people who identify as same-sex attracted, trans, gender diverse, and intersex (LGBTIQ+), published an article on their website denouncing Rimler and Caulfield Chabad.
The article explained that both Rimler and Caulfield Chabad should “take a more responsible approach to the content they run in their Lamplighter and avoid stigmatising vulnerable minorities”.
“Doing so feeds into the alarming rates of self-harm and suicide for people who are forced to hide or feel bad about same-sex attraction.”
The criticism is due to the use of a 15-year-old piece written by Yossy Goldman that Rimler repurposed for the cover of the September 30, 2022, Yom Kippur edition of Lamplighter.
Rabbi Mike Moskowitz is the Scholar-in-Residence for Trans and Queer Jewish Studies at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the world’s largest LGBT synagogue. He is a deeply traditional and radically progressive advocate for trans rights and a vocal ally for LGBTQ inclusivity. Rabbi Moskowitz received three Ultra-Orthodox ordinations while learning in the Mir in Jerusalem and in Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ.
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.