This episode is deeply moving and hopeful, as Rabbi Mike Moskowitz walks Tanna and Paris through the ins and outs of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, whilst also being ultra orthodox.
Initially, they briefly discuss Rabbi Moskowitz’ personal journey to becoming the Scholar in Residence at the Beit Simchat Torah Congregation, before diving into the attitudes held by so many in conservative, orthodox communities.
From discussing specific verses often used to justify transphobia, to an analysis of conversion therapy, to predictions about same sex marriage, Rabbi Moskowitz covers a wide range of questions that many onlookers have wondered about over the years.
Rabbi Moskowitz also touches on the recent negative media attention that his community has been receiving, and demonstrates that despite several significant imperfections, the ultra orthodox community is full of beauty, charity, and love.
17. Cultural and language diversity, gender, LGBTQIA+, disability, accessibility and inclusion of students is acknowledged within policies and procedures and training across Mount Scopus and includes references on how to make reasonable adjustments to improve the safety and wellbeing of students.
18. MSMC staff, leaders and Board members should receive diversity training (to include culturally and linguistically diversity, LGBTQIA+, disability and additional educational needs).
Ben thinks of himself as a liberal and enlightened gay man, living in the perfect apartment with his boyfriend Raz. All that’s missing to complete the picture is a baby, which the couple are trying to make a reality. Meanwhile Ben decides to improve his up-and-coming neighbourhood in gritty south Tel-Aviv by planting a new tree on his street. But his good deed soon triggers a sequence of events that leads to the brutal police arrest of an Eritrean immigrant.
Eli is an Israeli swimming coach living in the US. When he receives news of his father’s death, Eli reluctantly travels to Tel Aviv for the first time in 10 years to deal with the estate. On his short trip he decides to visit his childhood friend, Yotam. Yotam is running a small and beautiful flower shop in Jaffa, together with his fiancée Iris, a talented florist. When Eli comes to visit the two, he will set in motion a series of events that will affect everyone’s lives. Winner of Best Actress Prize at the 2022 Jerusalem Film Festival, the film offers a psychologically complex and thought-provoking story about relationships with a strong sensual through-line that keeps viewers guessing.
A bold documentary which reveals conversion therapy from within for the first time. Director Zvi Landsman is given unprecedented access to conversion therapy sessions, following the journeys of Lev; a 54-year-old divorced Orthodox Jew who hopes to be remarried to a woman, and Ben; a 23-year-old social work student who is seven years into therapy and starts to doubt the practice.
From left: Rabbi Mike Moskowitz and Michael Barnett. Photo: Gregory Storer.
The Victorian Pride Centre on Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, provided the perfect location to hear New York’s ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Mike Moskowitz discuss how Judaism can provide a welcoming and inclusive place for people of all genders and sexual orientations, free from judgement and discrimination.
On his tour of Australia and New Zealand last month, the US based rabbi made time in his schedule to address an intimate gathering, as guest of Aleph Melbourne and the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council.
Talking about how having a transgender family member challenged and changed his worldview, Rabbi Moskowitz spoke about how he devotes much of his time to making Judaism a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTIQ+ Jews, free from judgement and hostility.
Rabbi Moskowitz told those gathered that he maintains his religious practices while simultaneously attending Pride Parades and protest rallies for queer rights and inclusion.
He also stressed that the fundamental understanding that a person cannot change their sexual orientation or gender identity is of particular importance to him, and shared that he actively combats damaging practices that seek to change or convert LGBTIQ+ people to being heterosexual and/or cisgender.
Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said, “It was a total joy meeting Rabbi Moskowitz. His passion for LGBTIQ+ people and issues rivals that of any ally I have ever met and sets a very high bar when it comes to advocacy and inclusion.”
He also told The AJN that “Many of those in attendance spoke of how they found it unexpectedly refreshing to meet an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who was proud to be a strong ally to LGBTIQ+ people and advocate for our full inclusion in the Jewish community.”
Barnett added, “What I took from meeting Rabbi Mike Moskowitz is that being decent to LGBTIQ+ people and other vulnerable minorities takes minimal effort, and goes a long way to mend the harms that ill-informed rabbis and others perpetrate in the name of their faith.”
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.
How have LGBTQ+ experiences been represented in Sephardic-Mizrahi cultures? What are challenges that Sephardic-Mizrahi Queer Jews have faced in finding spaces that fully embrace their identities? We’ll explore these questions and then focus on the creation of a grassroots movement that has provided a vibrant and much-needed community at the intersection of LGBTQ+ and Sephardic-Mizrahi life.