Aleph Melbourne launches 2022 Federal Election Voters Guide

Aleph Melbourne launches its 2022 Federal Election Voters Guide

MEDIA RELEASE
16 MAY 2022

ALEPH MELBOURNE LAUNCHES 2022 FEDERAL ELECTION VOTERS GUIDE

Aleph Melbourne is proud to announce its 2022 Federal Election Voters Guide.  The Voters Guide is designed to inform voters living in voting divisions with high Jewish populations how to best identify candidates for the 2022 Federal Election who have comprehensively demonstrated or pledged support for LGBTIQA+ equality.

Links to the Aleph Melbourne 2022 Federal Election Voters Guide:

The Voters Guide is based on our three question survey asking:

  1. Do you support preventing all discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people (including school settings, sports settings and religious settings)?
  2. Do support preventing coercive surgeries and other non-consensual medical interventions for children born with variations in sex characteristics?
  3. Do you support ensuring access to gender affirmation treatment for trans and gender diverse people through Medicare?

Where a candidate did not respond to our survey we attempted to infer responses from their campaign or party policies.

Our guide contains the names of all candidates in the Federal divisions of Goldstein, Higgins, Hotham, Kooyong, Macnamara and Menzies.

We encourage voters to locate their voting division, review their candidates’ levels of support for LGBTIQ+ issues and vote in a manner that prioritises LGBTIQ+ equality.

We also encourage voters to contact candidates directly if they require additional information not included in the Voters Guide.

The Aleph Melbourne 2022 Federal Election Voters Guide is the sixth in our series of election guides since 2013. Our previous guides:

ENDS

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Michael Barnett
0417-595-541
contact@aleph.org.au

Zoe Daniel meets Jews of Pride team at In One Voice 2022

Purim was the one day I wasn’t in disguise | AJN

OPINION

Purim was the one day I wasn’t in disguise

From Purim to the Pride March.

By DASSI HERSZBERG
March 17, 2022, 11:16 am

ON Purim – a day when it is customary to hide your true identity – I found mine. As the fifth child in a family of eight, I struggled with my own identity both within my family and our closed ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel community.

Conforming to the strict dress codes expected by my family and surrounding community did not agree with my core perception of self.

Back then, I was considered what you’d call a “tomboy”. I loved to be active. I loved running. I loved climbing trees. I felt absolute discomfort in skirts, stockings (no matter the weather) and “girlie things”.

Riding a bike for girls was not allowed due to modesty codes, but I still managed to get some time on my brother’s bicycle every now and then and I loved it.

George was my favourite character in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five novels. With her short black cropped hair, her competency and her sense of adventure. I loved how everyone accepted her. She was “one of the boys”. I wanted to be George.

As a child, I didn’t have the language nor did I understand that my resistance to wearing skirts wasn’t only about the sense of feeling stifled from a religious perspective. It was also taking away my capacity to understand and explore my identity. My visceral rejection to the clothing wasn’t only because I didn’t understand the religious expectations. It wasn’t that I was a rebel. It just didn’t feel like I was a girl like the other girls around me.

After age three, I could no longer wear pants. That’s the age girls begin adhering to dress codes. Compulsory long sleeves and high-necked tops. I felt discomfort and suffocated. My ability to understand my identity was stifled.

Looking back at my childhood, Purim was the only day I could dress to match the way I felt. To be able to wear a pair of my brother’s pants for the day and dress up as a “boy” dresses, was always the highlight of the year for me.

It felt like a sin yet gave me a sense of liberation. Just for the day.

I now understand that my younger self’s sense of freedom in wearing boys’ clothing had a lot to do with my identity as non-binary.

I believe it was actually a positive saving grace that sexuality and the concept of gender non-conformity was non-existent. There was no language around for such expressions or conversations. That kind of subject matter was never discussed.

Nobody in my family or community could accuse me of being “evil” – at least that part hadn’t been tainted for me.

All of us wear masks at times, to hide ourselves away. Masks protect us. We are forced to wear masks to fit in with society.

But my experience was feeling forced to be dishonest. It’s a strange contradiction, not revealing who I was, was the mask I needed to wear – for self-preservation and protection.

Clothing is not just clothing. It tells a story. Clothing can be used as a “mask”. Clothing can be used to enhance. Clothing can be used as a statement of self-expression. Wearing a skirt feels so incongruous with who I am. Then again, there are days when I feel more feminine. And on those days, I feel a lot more comfortable wearing a skirt, wearing a pretty top and sometimes even putting make up on.

But on those days, when it is my choice to wear more typically feminine clothing, I am wearing them because I am being true to the essence of myself. Not because it’s being forced upon me by religious values.

Every Purim, I personally celebrate the recognition of finding my identity. It falls on my birthday and as such is my true “anniversary”. Purim is also a day when I celebrate my younger self’s sense of exhilaration, striding out of my childhood family home, dressed as a boy.

In a similar way, I felt absolutely elated when I marched under the banner of Pathways Melbourne with the Jews of Pride parade for the first time, wearing the clothes I wanted to wear.

Being surrounded by a diverse group of Jewish and non-Jewish people, each with their own senses of identity – all of us accepting of one another as a colourful member of our broad community. Each with our own story and history of how we “arrived” together.

Dassi Herszberg is a member of the Pathways Melbourne advisory panel and a qualified art therapist and counsellor. For further information, visit pathwaysmelbourne.org

A sense of Jewish pride | AJN

‘FANTASTIC SUPPORT’

A sense of Jewish pride

The annual Midsumma Pride March received fantastic support from the community.

By AJN STAFF
February 13, 2022, 10:00 am 

The Jewish community was out in force at the annual Midsumma Pride March last Sunday. With crowds back to normal after the pandemic, there was rapturous applause for the 70 -strong Jews of Pride contingent, with everyone clapping and dancing along to the Jewish music.

Participating organisations included Aleph Melbourne, the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Temple Beth Israel, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Zionism Victoria, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), Pathways Melbourne, SKIF and Temple Beth Israel.

Aleph co-convenor Michael Barnett told The AJN “I am heartened to see the fantastic support from Jewish youth groups, providing a safe and inclusive space for LGBTIQ+ people. We also have more parents and families of young people attending, crucial to the safe development of their children.”

The sentiment was echoed by regular participant, Naomi Barnett, who said it was her best ever Pride March yet, with so much enthusiasm from the sidelines for the Jewish presence.

JCCV vice president Doron Abramovici reflected, “It is a wonderful experience for all Jewish organisations to march together, as a unified group.

Jewish sessions @ Queer Screen 2022

Queer Screen

Enjoy these Jewish films at the Mardi Gras Film Festival, running from February 17 to March 3 2022. Session and booking details online.

IN THE IMAGE OF GOD

Included in the QueerDoc Shorts session (available On Demand) is the screening of In The Image of God:

The fourth generation in his family to be born intersex, Jewish Rabbi Levi was assigned the female gender at birth and grew up thinking he was sick and defective. “In the Image of God” tells the story of his struggles and transitions, culminating today in a life as a religious leader and an LGBTQI+ activist living happily in Los Angeles with his wife.

PAST CONTINUOUS

Screening in Sydney as part of the Oz Doc Shorts session is Past Continuous:

At the age of 72, Ilan and Oscar finally have the right to join in a holy matrimony underneath the chuppah in a synagogue in Sydney. Now, with identical rings and official recognition, Ilan and Oscar are preparing for a journey into the grim past which still pains and troubles them and which, despite the many years that have passed, they still bear within them.

This is a story about an inspiring couple who managed to stay together against all odds.

Directed by Kineret Hay-Gillor, this short-form documentary is told in English and Hebrew with English subtitles.

Queer Sessions @ JIFF 2022

Jewish International Film Festival 2022
March 2 – April 4, 2022

Full programme here.


TWO

In her moving debut feature, Israeli director Astar Elkayam tackles the physical and emotional challenges two women face when they decide to start a family. Initially optimistic, Bar and Omer embrace the process, eagerly combing through a catalogue of potential donors and facing the insemination process with humour. After Omer repeatedly fails to become pregnant, a sense of failure gnaws at them, threatening to undermine their relationship.

Mor Polanuer and Agam Schuster (Your Honour) deliver outstanding performances, realistically capturing the toll that the IVF process takes on the young couple.

SUBLET

From acclaimed Israeli director Eytan Fox (Walk on WaterThe Bubble), Sublet is a poignant depiction of the transformative power of love through a cross-generational encounter.

Michael, a travel columnist for The New York Times, takes on a rental apartment for a week’s assignment to discover the real Tel Aviv. He sublets an apartment from Tomer, a twenty-something gay film student who offers to act as his guide. Tomer’s carefree life of partying and casual sex are an affront to Michael whose life experiences have led him to more conservative views on love and relationships. Over five days together, the two find they have more in common than they thought, and form a bond that emotionally liberates them both.

TAHARA

This poignant and comic story traces the coming-of-age of two Jewish teenage girls—one white and straight, and the other Black and queer. Set in Rochester, NY, the film begins at the funeral service of their former Hebrew school classmate who suddenly commits suicide. A complicated romance unexpectedly arises as best friends Carrie and Hannah (played by Shiva Baby’s Rachel Sennott) navigate their feelings about this tragedy and themselves, and try to make sense of their teacher’s well-meaning but misguided advice about grieving.


jiff-2022-program

Jewish submissions to inquiries for the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021

Enquiries

Submissions

Aleph Melbourne


Submission to Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry: Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 and related bills

Religious-Discrimination-Bill-2021-and-related-bills-Submission-04

[PDF]

Submission-15-Aleph-Melbourne-Senate-Standing-Committees-on-Legal-and-Constitutional-Affairs-Religious-Discrimination-Bill-2021-etc

[PDF]

AUSTRALIA/ISRAEL & JEWISH AFFAIRS COUNCIL

AIJAC-Submission-to-the-Parliamentary-Joint-Committee-on-Human-Rights-Inquiry-into-Religious-Discrimination-Bill-2021-and-related-bills

[PDF]

Submission-147-Submission-to-the-Senate-Legal-and-Constitutional-Affairs-Legislation-Committee-Inquiry-into-Religious-Discrimination-Bill-2021-and-related-bills

[PDF]

Executive Council of Australian Jewry

ECAJ-Submission-to-PJCHR-re-Religious-Discrimination-Bill-2021-Final

[PDF]

Submission-94-ECAJ-submission-to-the-Senate-Standing-Committees-on-Legal-and-Constitutional-Affairs-–-Religious-Discrimination-Bill

[PDF]

Reports

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights – Religious Discrimination Report

Parliamentary-Joint-Committee-on-Human-Rights-Religious-Discrimination-Bill-Report

[PDF]

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs – Religious discrimination Report

Senate-Legal-and-Constitutional-Affairs-Legislation-Committee-Religious-Discrimination-Bill-Report

[PDF]

AJN Letter to the Editor: “Sondheim’s Sexuality”

It would be remiss to recount the life of the legendary playwright Stephen Sondheim (AJN 03/12) without also acknowledging that he was a gay man who only came out at the age of 40.

He met his partner Jeffrey Romley in 2004, whom he described as a great joy in his life.  They married in 2017 and it was in his husband’s arms that he died. Although he did not have children, he said if he had his time again he would definitely have been a parent, admitting he fell victim to historical stigmas around gay men parenting.

The erasure of Sondheim’s personal life and sexual orientation is disappointing, as they are just as important as his professional achievements.  Had he been married to a woman, it would have been noted along with the duration of their relationship.

Michael Barnett
Co-convenor, Aleph Melbourne

Australian Jewish News; December 17 2021

SOURCES

LGBTQ NATION: Legendary gay composer & Broadway genius Stephen Sondheim passes at 91

ABC Radio National – The Music Show: Jeremy Sams remembers Stephen Sondheim, and Braille music with Ria Andriani (42:22)

Reaction to Religious Discrimination Bill | AJN

‘NO BALANCE WILL PROVIDE PERFECT JUSTICE FOR EVERYBODY’

Reaction to Religious Discrimination Bill

By GARETH NARUNSKY
December 2, 2021, 11:01 am  

AS the latest draft of the federal government’s Religious Discrimination Bill is discussed in parliament and the media, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said “it is appropriate that we are having this debate during Chanukah”.

“As much as the Jewish people admired many aspects of Hellenistic learning and civilisation, we totally rejected any attempt to forcibly assimilate our people into the then prevailing culture, and give up our beliefs and our identity,” he said.

“No faith community should be pressured into assimilating into today’s prevailing secular culture.

“It is particularly important for the religious organisations of minority faith communities to continue to be free to look after the religious and cultural needs of those communities.”

Commenting more specifically on the bill, Wertheim noted some of the “more contentious” aspects of the previous drafts have been removed, notably protections allowing employers to restrict religious speech outside the workplace – commonly referred to as “the Folau clause” – and the conscience protection for healthcare professionals.

“What is left is a conscientious attempt to balance prohibitions against religious discrimination with the freedom of religious organisations to operate according to their ethos,” he said. “No such balance will provide perfect justice for everybody. This bill tries to minimise the scope for injustice.”

Contrary to misconception, the bill does not speak to whether religious schools can exclude LGBTQI+ students – the Sex Discrimination Act already technically permits this – but under the legislation religious institutions would be allowed to have faith-influenced hiring policies, although these policies would need to be made public.

But Jewish organisations The AJN spoke to indicated they would not use the provision.

Moriah College principal Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler said the school seeks to employ high-calibre staff and “gender, identity, race and religion make no difference”.

“We aim to integrate Modern Orthodox Zionist Jewish values into our modern world and society, and we view the diversity of our educators and workforce as a huge benefit in achieving this goal,” he said.

“Diversity enriches the educational experience for our children.”

Emanuel School principal Andrew Watt said the school aspires to be “welcoming and inclusive … known for its genuine acceptance and understanding of diversity”.

“Emanuel School employs both Jewish and non-Jewish staff. We welcome staff and students into our school community, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Our enrolment and recruitment practices will remain unchanged,” he said.

Montefiore CEO Robert Orie said, “With more than 1000 employees, Montefiore is proud to employ a diverse workforce that spans many cultures, traditions and LGBTQI+ groups and our residents support and celebrate the diversity of our staff.”

Meanwhile, the state government said it is still committed to making amendments to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, but will wait to do so once the federal legislation is passed.

“This will allow the government to closely consider the Commonwealth legislation to ensure that its interaction with NSW legislation can be fully understood and that constitutional inconsistency is avoided,” said Attorney-General Mark Speakman.

But NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark urged the government to act without further delay.

“The Parliamentary Joint Select Committee heard wide-ranging submissions from the community and produced a comprehensive and well-considered report,” he said.

“The Attorney-General has announced that religious discrimination will be outlawed in NSW, which is one of only two states in Australia that doesn’t have laws against religious discrimination.

“The NSW government has an opportunity to act now. We look forward to seeing these laws progressing through Parliament.”