Limmud Oz 2020: The Queer Sessions

See below for details of the three LGBTIQ+ sessions at this year’s Limmud Oz. More details online.

Sunday, June 7 • 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Israel that you don’t know

Hen is an energetic activist and advocate for his people. As the son of Mizrahi Jewish refugees from Iraq and North Africa (Berber Jews from Tunisia), Hen has a unique and important voice in today’s discussions, sharing his family’s story as part of the 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. As a young Israeli, Hen served in the IDF for almost five years as an openly gay commander. During his service as a lieutenant in the COGAT unit, he worked as an intermediary between the Israeli Defense Forces (the IDF), the Palestinian Authority, the UN, and many non-governmental organisations that operate in the West Bank.

SPEAKER
Hen Mazzig
Hen Mazzig is the son of Mizrahi Jewish refugees from Iraq and North Africa. He has written for the LA Times, NBC News, Haaretz, The Forward, Jewish Chronicle and International Business Times. Since 2016, he has worked as a freelance consultant to help pro-Israel and social justice causes, and has also volunteered as the head of the Transgender and Health department at the National Israeli LGBTQ Task Force “The Nir Kates Center” in Tel Aviv.

Monday, June 8 • 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Proud to be Jewish; proud to be gay

Jarod has had a long journey with his gayness. A longer one with his Judaism. His life has its share of conflict. Inner turmoil. Some painful memories. But the focus will be on the inspiring moments he has had on his Jewish gay journey. Ultimately, his life is a tale of unwavering love, positivity and understanding. Because he has waded through the darkness, the light shines twice as bright. And I’m here.

SPEAKERS
Jarod Rhine-Davis
Jarod is a Jewish gay man living his best life in Melbourne, and has a keen interest in bringing the Jewish and LGBTIQA+ communities together. He actively volunteers and as a job is involved in helping disadvantaged people to find employment. He is looking forward to sharing his story.

Adam Samuel
Adam Samuel is a Jewish/gay award-winning radio broadcaster and journalist, working with KIIS, GOLD, 3AW and JOY 94.9, and notably associate producing the Melbourne AIDS Conference. Adam is also a festival and event MC, and is often seen walking along Glenhuntly Rd with a really large cup of coffee!

Sunday, June 14 • 12:00pm – 1:00pm
All about Chava: the representation of queer Jewish women in film

From the lounge-rooms of Sydney, we bring you a taste of HaSodot, our grassroots film club catering to queer Jewish women. Join us as we watch and discuss the portrayal of queer Jewish women in contemporary film and television. We will examine the ways in which television and film represent (or misrepresent) our experiences and how this may impact our lives and identities.

SPEAKERS
Liora Baram
Liora is somehow still a student at the University of Sydney, and works in research in the academic and corporate worlds. She is co-founder of the Jewish queer women’s community, HaSodot. Liora is also co-chair of Limmud Oz + NZ Online 2020.

Shoshana Gottlieb
Shoshana is a writer and playlist maker based in sydney. She spends her time watching, reading about, and discussing film and television. her mother thinks she would’ve made a great doctor.

16-yr-old brutally stabbed by his own brother | J-Wire

16-yr-old brutally stabbed by his own brother

July 28, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk

The Jewish LGBTIQ+ community in Australia has responded with “shock and revulsion” to news of a brutal attack against a 16-year-old youth at a LGBTIQ+ youth hostel in Tel Aviv on Friday. 

Tel Aviv stabbing scene Pic: Twitter

According to reports, a teenager was seriously wounded just outside the hostel when he was stabbed in the chest and leg, apparently for religious reasons, by his own brother.

The incident comes within days of the 10th anniversary of the murder of a 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl and the injuring of at least fifteen others, most of them minors, at the “Bar-Noar” LGBTIQ+ youth centre in Tel Aviv on 1 August 2009.   It is also five years since 16-year-old Shira Banki was stabbed to death at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade.

Commenting on the latest incident, Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said, “The attack on a resident at an LGBTIQ+ youth emergency centre is a chilling reminder of how much harder we need to work to break down the intolerance and ignorance that exists in many communities”.

“The 2009 attack in Tel Aviv was the catalyst for a remarkable transformation in the Jewish community in Australia, and as a result our community has come to value the importance of including and embracing its LGBTIQ+ people” Barnett said.  “We are a better, stronger and more cohesive community as a result, although we also know there is much more work to do.  Beliefs and attitudes that incite hate and violence are never acceptable, and we must call them out in all their forms.  Our thoughts are with the injured boy and wish him a full and speedy recovery.”

Co-CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Peter Wertheim, described Friday’s stabbing as “extremely disturbing”.

“Israel has made great strides in recent years in encouraging respect for and acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people, and it is light years ahead of neighbouring countries”’ Wertheim said. “But there is still a long way to go. In Israel, as elsewhere, LGBTIQ+ people still face all too frequent acts of violence motivated by hatred in a social climate that is inflamed by bigoted statements from people in positions of authority.  We hope the young man who was attacked makes a full and speedy recovery and that his ordeal serves to spur political and religious leaders to greater efforts to stamp out anti-LGBTIQ+ violence, and the hatred that gives rise to it.”

Ronit Horwitz Peskin explains why she’s attending the Jerusalem Pride Parade with her children

I’m about to post something that is probably more controversial than anything I usually post (and thats saying a lot), and it may get some people to defriend me, it may get some people to think less of me… and I’ll admit, part of me was planning on just not saying anything at all.
But I feel I must. But just know that because of the controversy, I do plan on not responding to the comments section here, because I have no interest in arguing with you. I’m just sharing my thoughts.

I am going to the gay pride parade in Jerusalem in a few hours.
With my kids.

Yes. That’s right. I identify as a chareidi woman and I am still going. And I feel its important to bring my kids too.

Before you get all in shock, let me say that I used to be “one of you”. I used to be opposed to the parade. I used to say “Fine, be gay, but why do you need to be proud of it? And show off about your aveiros in the holy city of Jerusalem.”

But I’ve changed.

You want to know why I’m going?

I’m going to show that you can be religious and not be a bigot. That you can be chareidi and not be a bigot.

The thing that changed my mind, the thing that made me decide that this year is the year I’m going to go, is finding out that some of my good friends are gay. And they feel that that means that God hates them. That their life isn’t worth living. That they’re an abomination.

The reason I’m going to pride is to say I care about you. I love you. I think you’re an awesome person. And the fact that you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re any less valuable as a person, any less worthwhile as a jew, any less loved by God.

I’ve heard some people say that gay people have a choice, they choose to be gay. From my experience with my close friends who are gay, I know its the exact opposite. Because of the religious community, because of wanting to fit in and be normal, they want more than anything to not be gay. To just be able to live a traditional family life, without all this pain. People don’t choose to be gay. That is how they are. Period. Yes, for some people there’s a spectrum and they can be happy with either a man or a woman, and honestly, in that case, I do think its preferable halachically for them to have a traditional marriage. But for those who can’t or don’t want to be with someone of the opposite sex for whatever reason, I don’t judge them.
To be honest, I used to think the answer to the “gay and religious” issue was to do like Josh Weed and marry the opposite sex to your best friend… until I learned that even he was divorcing, that no matter how much he tried to make his marriage work to a woman, it wasn’t fair to either of them.

Yes, the torah says that male to male anal sex is an abomination. That is a fact. That is a sin.
But you know what it doesn’t say?
It doesn’t say that being gay is a sin. That being gay is an abomination.
I’m going to pride to stand up against so called religious people who mock, bully, bellittle, and castigate others simply for “being gay”. I heard a story of a yeshiva bochur who didn’t even really know what gay was, let alone that he was gay, until after he was already bullied for being gay in yeshiva.
I’m going to pride to say that all human beings are worthy of love and respect.
And yes, the fact that some people that are gay do acts that are assur by the torah is true. But that is something private, and that isn’t anyone’s business but theirs and god. You’re supposed to be dan people lekach zechus, judge people favorably. There’s may ways for gay couples to be intimate without breaking an issur dioraysa (a biblican law).

The fact that someone is gay doesn’t mean they are doing anything that is a sin. There is not a single sin in the world that encompasses or involved “being gay”.

I’ve heard people oppose the gay pride parade because they don’t believe its appropriate to have a parade about peoples sex life. I’m sorry, but peoples sex life is not on parade in the Jerusalem pride parade. Being gay is not about who you have sex with. You can be a celibate gay person. You can be a gay person who only has hetero sex. Being gay is about an identity that you are, not what you do. (Yes, I have heard that gay pride parades in other cities are sexually explicit, and thats why I would never go to a gay pride parade in any other city. The jerusalem one is family friendly, g rated.)

I want to add also that pride is not just about gay people. It also involves asexual and demisexual people who are shamed and told they arent normal human beings because of their lack of interest in sex. I support asexuals. That’s how god made them.

Pride is also about trans people, who I support, because I know what it’s like to be uncomfortable in your own skin, to feel like there is this existential thing wrong with you, until you figure out your identity and live as you identify inside. (For me, by the way, that happened when I attempted to live as a dati leumi person, when my inside was saying thats wrong, I identify as chareidi.)

Pride is also about intersex, and if there’s ever an argument that “this is simply how god made me” with absolutely no outside influence, this is it. God made people intersex, and they also are worthy of love and respect. (And for the record, the torah has lots of talks about intersex people, its not even remotely controversial.)

An argument I’ve heard is “fine, be LGBTQIA, if thats how you are, but why do you need to be proud of it? Why have a parade about it?” and “What about hetero pride?”

When the world at large tells you you aren’t worthwhile, when it tells you that your existence is an abomination, when people put up signs around the city calling you abnormal, being proud of yourself is an act of defiance. A healthy act of defiance. Being proud to be LGBTQIA is saying i’m a worthy human being, not in spite of the hate I get or because of the hate I get, but simply I just am. Its not saying being LGBTQIA is better than people who are cis het, it is just saying “I am a valuable individual and when you say i’m not I will proudly stand up and say I am worthy”.

And as for “Why in jerusalem, and why specifically in a way and place that is inflammatory and offensive”, I say that Jerusalem has many LGBTQIA people just like any other cities. And if there were this parade going through chareidi areas, I’d be strongly opposed. But it isnt. And if people don’t like it, they can ignore it.

If you oppose the pride parade but support the israel day parade in america, youre a hypocrite. Both are types of people that the world at large says arent worthwhile/valuable, both bring out protesters, and both are saying “I will not let the hate around me bring me down. I am proud of who I am because I am a child of God/a human being.”

Lastly, I am going to the pride parade because the main tennet of the torah is “Viahavta lireacha kamocha”, treat your neighbor like yourself, treat other people the way you want to be treated. And what better way than you march at pride with everyone else, announce myself as an ally, and say “I don’t support hate and bigotry, because that’s not what my torah says.” And that’s what I’m teaching my kids by bringing them.

Aleph Melbourne & Dayenu stand up for LGBTIQ surrogacy in Israel

LGBTIQ Jewish groups stand up for equal access to surrogacy in Israel.

A Letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - LGBTQ-Jews

 

Benjamin Netanyahu
Office of the Prime Minister
Jerusalem, Israel
July 21, 2018

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

We represent more than 20 LGBTQ-Jewish communities from across the world and writing to express our strong support for the Israeli LGBTQ community’s struggle and fight for equality.

The right to become a parent is a universal basic human right that should not be deprived to anyone, especially due to their sexual or gender identity. It is not just a liberal concept, but also a Jewish mandate to “be fruitful and multiply”. Israel’s latest legislation, which discriminates against Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders, and Queers by denying their right to parenthood, comes after several years where same-sex couples in Israel are facing inequality in parenthood rights and legal recognition.

We stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community in Israel and express our concerns over the recent trends happening to individuals and their equal rights.

We call on you to amend this discrimination and to truly promote equality for the LGBTQ community.

Sincerely,

Photos from Alon Amir’s visit to Melbourne

Aleph Melbourne, together with the Embassy of Israel, hosted an intimate evening with Israeli Eurovision expert Alon Amir at Nature Boy Cafe in Murrumbeena.

View the photo gallery here.

Aleph Melbourne, together with the Embassy of Israel, hosted a Q&A evening with Israeli Eurovision expert Alon Amir.

Posted by Aleph Melbourne on Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Night With Alon Amir (Israel’s Eurovision Expert)

Eurovision Fans !

Here is your only opportunity to get all the behind-the-scenes gossip at Eurovision. Aleph Melbourne, together with the Embassy of Israel, presents Alon Amir, the Israeli author of the book “Three Minutes of Eternity” this Tuesday 19 June for an exclusive up close Q&A with the world’s leading Eurovision expert. Ask him anything you always wanted to know about Eurovision.

Alon Amir took part in many Eurovision competitions. He served as the Head of the Press for the Israeli delegation (2009, 2012, 2013, and 2016) as well as for the Slovak (2011) and Belarussian delegations (2005). In addition, he served as an international juror numerous times in national finals in Sweden, Malta, Estonia, Bulgaria, Norway and Finland.

Alon has worked with some of the leading singers and performers in Israel, helping them to build a career and an audience. He created several TV segments with his twin brother on Israeli TV and has written for several newspapers and leading web sites. He also has had his own radio show (despite his voice).

Bookings are essential for his only Melbourne appearance.

Date: Tuesday 19th June

Time: Arrive 7:00pm for a 7:30pm sharp start

Venue: Nature Boy, 486 Neerim Rd, Murrumbeena

Getting there: Train to Murrumbeena Station / street parking available

Cost: There is no charge for this event but you must book in advance to secure your seat

Drinks will be available at bar price.

TICKETS
Book via Eventbrite
Book via Facebook

Alon Amir

Embassy of Israel logo

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council doesn’t walk its talk

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council don’t walk its talk when it comes to factual accuracy.

On October 9 2017 ABC Media Watch quoted Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s Colin Rubinstein:

“We do critique journalists and media stories when we see factual errors, lack of context, or unprofessionalism …”
— Dr Colin Rubenstein, Executive Director, AIJAC, 28 July 2017

It is disappointing that Colin Rubinstein is taking the high moral ground on matters of factual accuracy.

AIJAC remains unrepentant for a matter of factual inaccuracy that Aleph Melbourne called them out on in 2016 (see AIJAC should apologise for unsubstantiated criticism of Greens policy).

It would be good to hear AIJAC’s apology for their factual inaccuracy and perceived bias.

There’s a lot of Israeli at the 2017 MQFF

We present the Israeli sessions at the 2017 Melbourne Queer Film Festival.

You can view the full programme here.

Desire Will Set You Free | Fri 17 Mar 10:15 PM | 92 mins | Germany | 2016 | Yony Leyser
Ezra (director Yony Leyser), an Israeli-Palestinian writer sunk deep into Berlin’s artistic underground, has a passing fascination with Russian hustler, Sasha (Tim Fabian Hoffman), while his acerbic friend Catherine (Chloe Griffin) attempts to sex her way free of her straight-edged girlfriend (Amber Benson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Like the city that provides its intoxicating setting, Desire Will Set You Free is packed with influences (from Isherwood to Bowie) and is under the influence. Tick off your Berlin scenester cameos: look out for performances from Nina Hagen, Peaches, Sookee, Blixa Bargeld and beefcake-electro oddities Rummelsnuff. English and German/Arabic/Hebrew with English subtitles.

Haircut | Sun 19 Mar 6:00 PM | 2 mins | Israel | 2015 | Amir Stolar
On the morning of his 29th’ birthday, Omer thinks back on his ex boyfriend Ori. This starts a journey of regrets and mixed emotions.

Barash | Mon 20 Mar 8:00 PM | 5 mins | Israel | 2015 | Michal Vinik
‘Israeli-Palestinian tensions deepen and complicate more familiar coming-out subject matter in Michawl Vinik’s vibrant debut’ – Variety

Seventeen year old Naama Barash enjoys alcohol, drugs and hanging out with her likeminded friends. When the suburban teen meets the cool, more experienced Dana they explore Tel Aviv’s nightlife and a hesitant relationship develops between them. Meanwhile Naama’s sister has gone missing from her post at a nearby military base, diverting her family’s attention away from the new developments in Naama’s life. Drawing favourable comparisons to Blue is the Warmest Colour, Barash is about the dizzy rush of first love, and an original, energetic drama that defies the stereotypes of life in Israel. Hebrew with English subtitles.

Who’s Gonna Love Me Now | Wed 22 Mar 6:15 PM | 85 mins | Israel | UK | 2016 | Tomer Heymann, Barak Heymann, Alexander Bodin Saphir
“Who’s gonna love me now?” These words, spoken by an ex lover, resonate with Saar, who is HIV positive. After being barred from his Israeli kibbutz years earlier, and with his Orthodox family still unable to accept his sexuality, Saar established a new life in London, where the London Gay Men’s Chorus have become an extended family. Featuring some stirring performances from the chorus, Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? is a deeply affecting, intimate portrait of a man trying to balance his yearning for home with his desire to live life on his own terms. English and Hebrew with English subtitles

Cut | Fri 24 Mar 10:00 PM | 3 mins | Israel | 2015 | Dar Laor
A quirky animation on the myths that surround what is normal and natural in the realms of gender and identity.

Fake It | Sun 26 Mar 3:30 PM | 23 mins | Israel | 2015 | Tzurit Hartzion
Zohar needs more photographs for her exhibition and asks her ex, Ella, to recreate things that happened before the breakup so that she can photograph them. Is it real or are they, faking it. Hebrew with English subtitles.

ECAJ & Marriage Equality

From: Michael Barnett
Date: 16 February 2016 at 22:06
Subject: ECAJ & Marriage Equality
To: Peter Wertheim <PWertheim@ecaj.org.au>, Robert Goot <president@ecaj.org.au>

Hi Peter, Robert,
 
I see the ECAJ are keen to discuss “LGBT equality” for it’s ideological purposes:
 
http://www.ecaj.org.au/2016/open-letter-to-the-anti-israel-left
 
Ordinarily this use of LGBTI people would not bother me but given Australia doesn’t have LGBTI equality and given your organisation exists to promote the welfare (eg equality) of Australians, it seems you’re taking a liberty with the liberties LGBTI Australians don’t yet have.
 
Allow me to remind you of your platform:
 

This Council:
1.1 NOTES that it is the vision of the ECAJ to create and support a community in which all Australians, including all Jewish Australians:
(a) feel valued and their cultural differences are respected;
(b) have a fair opportunity to meet their material and other needs; and
(c) are equally empowered as citizens to participate in and contribute to all facets of life in the wider community;

Right now I’m not feeling especially valued, not do I have fair opportunity to meet my needs, and am not empowered to participate in or contribute to all facets of life in the wider community.  I am sure I speak for others too.
 
On this particular ground, I’d really like your organisation to sign its name to marriage equality so LGBTI people in Australia can have equal rights, similarly to those of the people you are so proud to show off in your open letter.
 
To this end, Australian Marriage Equality have provided a simple mechanism to facilitate your addition to their list of over 800 supporters:
 
http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/non-profit-support
 
It would also be an ideal opportunity for the ECAJ to follow in the footsteps of Bialik College, a proud supporter of marriage equality.
 
How soon can you arrange this support?
 
Regards,
Michael.
0417-595-541.