Jewish contingent awarded “Most Fabulous” in 2018 Midsumma Pride March

It is with great delight we announce that Aleph Melbourne, together with the entire Jewish contingent participating in the 2018 Midsumma Pride March, is recipient of the “Most Fabulous” award (for the most fantastically frocked).

2018 Midsumma Pride March "Jews of Pride" Most Fabulous award

Groups registered in the award-winning Jewish contingent included Aleph Melbourne, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Keshet Australia, Netzer Melbourne, Progressive Judaism Victoria and Temple Beth Israel.

Contributing to the success of the Jewish contingent were the visually spectacular placards from Temple Beth Israel and Aleph Melbourne, together with the booming sound truck “Barbra the Beaut Ute” and a range of technicolour banners, umbrellas, flags and fabulous community members.

The judges’ decision to select the Jewish contingent the “most fabulous” would have been especially difficult, given the many fabulous entries amongst the over 190 groups registered to march.

Aleph Melbourne is proud to represent a diverse, inclusive and most fabulous Jewish community.

A complete set of photograph of the Jewish contingent can be viewed here.  Hi-resolution images are available on request from Michael Barnett (michael@aleph.org.au).

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Submission to the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review

20180213 Religious Freedom Review submission – Aleph Melbourne [PDF]

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David Southwick 2015 statement on Keshet gaining JCCV membership

18 AUG 2015

MEMBER’S STATEMENT: JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF VICTORIA

Mr SOUTHWICK — I would like also to congratulate the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) for voting in its plenum on 3 August in support of the affiliation of Keshet Australia, JCCV’s first GLBTI affiliate. I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to JCCV members, including their president Jonathan Barnett, on this historic moment. This is the first time a GLBTI organisation has joined a Jewish community roof body in Australia and one of the few that has done so around the world. It is fitting that it happened on the JCCV’s — —

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Angus) — Order! The member’s time has expired.

[ View on Hansard ]

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1999 AJDS letter re Aleph Melbourne membership denied by JCCV

19990511 AJDS JCCV letter

AJN May 14 1999 p33 Letters re Aleph defeat

11 May, 1999

In a momentous and shameful vote of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, on Monday 10 May, the Jewish Gay support group, ALEPH was refused membership of the JCCV. It has been only a generation since Jews and Homosexuals were forced to wear badges of coloured cloth – how quickly we seem to forget that we are inseparably linked by a very common but tragic history.

The criteria for acceptance onto the JCCV – the roof body of Victorian Jewry are simple indeed: A Victorian Jewish organisation aiming to advance Jewish ideals for its membership.

In an unusual secret ballot, affiliate organisations including Synagogues, Sporting groups, Youth Organisations, Cultural, Political and Women’s groups were asked to vote after some months of debate. Many expressed their dismay that they were forced to vote against their consciences by their affiliates. History does not accept such lame excuses when what was required from our community representatives was compassion and understanding, not religious bigotry.

The meeting voted clearly on religious lines – with the Orthodox representatives vehemently rejecting the view that Jewish Gays have a legitimate place in the Community! This despite an impassioned plea by Dr Phillip Bliss, president of the JCCV for Aleph’s acceptance.

The week prior to this opprobrious vote, Aleph published in the AJN an impressive and impassioned plea for acceptance – only to be refused and have the door to the closet slammed in their faces once again!

I can only say how ashamed I feel to be part of such a community that has turned its back on our fellow Jews.

Perhaps wearing a Pink Triangle with a yellow Star of David on it as a symbol of solidarity will finally bring the message home to the bigoted minority.

David Zyngier
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society
Publicity Officer

 

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Pride March 2018 – Loud & Proud

Colin Krycer

Colin Krycer

Pride March 2018 will see the strongest ever Jewish contingent in its two-decade history, bringing together a dynamic range of organisations from our community.

After months of planning by Aleph co-convenor Colin Krycer we can now announce that for the first time “Barbra the Beaut Ute”, resplendent with rainbow Magen David decals, will lead the Jewish groups, pumping out professionally remixed upbeat Jewish and Israeli hits.

Colin’s idea for the combined Jewish contingent was to demonstrate the harmony, inclusiveness and togetherness within the Jewish community. His dream is to see everyone dance their way down Fitzroy Street to the liveliest Jewish music.

Participating in the “Jew Crew”* are Aleph Melbourne, Jews of Pride, Temple Beth Israel, Keshet Australia, Hashomer Hatzair, Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Progressive Judaism Victoria, and Netzer Melbourne.

Be at the marshalling area, corner of Lakeside Drive and Fitzroy Street St Kilda this Sunday January 28 by 1:30pm for a 2pm sharp start.

Everyone is welcome to attend and show their support for LGBTIQ Jews. Bring your family, friends, allies and even your pets.

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MEDIA STATEMENT: Response to secrecy of Ruddock Religious Freedom Review

ALEPH MELBOURNE
MEDIA STATEMENT
January 3 2018

CONCERNS OVER SECRECY OF RUDDOCK RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REVIEW

Aleph Melbourne is deeply concerned with the announcement that all public submissions to the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review will be kept secret.

There is a lot at stake for the respect and dignity of LGBTIQ people alongside that of members of religious communities. Any review of freedom of speech requires a full, frank and honest exchange of views.

The notion that submissions to an inquiry should be kept secret flies in the face of the very intention to investigate the freedoms that are under threat.

It would be better for the Turnbull Government to provide full transparency rather than create a tension in our communities. There should be no freedom that is so important that the decision-making process needs to be hidden from view.

The Jewish community is well aware of the risk that discrimination carries. For decades we have been at the forefront of ensuring that people of all backgrounds are free to go about their lives with minimal impact to their personal liberties.

The potential is that the Ruddock Review will see the introduction of new rights giving faith-based organisations greater freedom to discriminate. It may well be that a Christian business that could refuse to provide goods or services for a same-sex wedding, because of their sincerely held religious beliefs, could also refuse to serve a Jewish wedding based on the same sincerely held beliefs.

For further comment contact Michael Barnett – 0417-595-541

Background: Public submissions to Philip Ruddock’s review of religious freedom to be kept secret

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Maccabi Victoria statement on marriage equality and LGBTIQ inclusion

Maccabi Victoria logoMaccabi Victoria is delighted that marriage equality has now been legislated and that all Australians regardless of their sexual orientation will be treated equally under Australian law.

Maccabi Victoria President Brian Swersky stated, “I am both a proud member of the Jewish community and a proud ally of the LGBTIQ community. At a community level, I think it is of utmost importance that all people, no matter their gender, sexuality or orientation are welcome to each and every Maccabi club or program. On a personal level, I have seen the hurt this debate has caused, as my daughter and her wife have been called hurtful things because of their love for each other.

May every child of every Maccabi Victoria club always know that they have a place in our clubs and our hearts no matter who they are or who they love. No matter the colour of their skin or the language that they speak. No matter their physical or cognitive ability.
No matter.”

We recognise the impact that the debate and survey has had on some members of our community and hope that anyone facing mental health concerns as a result will seek appropriate support and assistance.”

Anyone seeking support and assistance can download a copy of the JCCV LGBTI Services Directory at www.jccv.org.au to seek support from an appropriate service provider.

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Aleph Melbourne – Championing LGBTIQ inclusion and advocacy in the Jewish community

20 December 2017

January 1995 saw the formation of a social group for gay Jewish men in Melbourne. The group was called Aleph Melbourne, to be distinct from the now long-defunct Aleph Sydney.

The need for a separate men’s group was due to the existence of the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, formed in 1992. It was JLGV’s desire to remain women-only, so Aleph filled the niche for men.

In the early years Aleph convened in private houses, had a committee, a meet-and-greet arrangement for new members, and a busy calendar of events.

Aleph was promoted through a small advert in the Jewish News, and also word of mouth.

I helped set up the first web page and email address for Aleph, both hosted on the then-popular Geocities service offered by Yahoo.

Due to a change in the group’s leadership in the late 1990s the committee decided to hold monthly drop-in meetings at the premises of the Victorian AIDS Council, then at 6 Claremont Street, South Yarra. The drop-in nights were a success for a long time, however dwindling attendance saw an end to these meetings in 1999.

Toward the latter half of 1998 the committee decided to apply for membership of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, in an effort to increase awareness in the Jewish community of issues that gay and bisexual men faced. Such issues included social isolation, discrimination, HIV/AIDS, and the emerging awareness of negative mental health outcomes and suicide.

In May 1999 our membership application failed to receive the two-thirds majority vote required from the council’s membership. To say our application for membership was controversial was an understatement, as it attracted front-page news, heated debate and full letter columns in the Jewish News for weeks and weeks.

Aleph felt the white-hot anger of the Orthodox leadership for daring to stand up for our individuality and acceptance. We also discovered there was a ground-swell of acceptance from many socially inclusive organisations, most notably the Progressive Jewish community, along with a large number of high school students, Zionist youth organisations and university students.

The rejection of our application by the JCCV took a huge toll on our small group which led to the committee folding and the group going into hiatus. However I felt that the need for the group was still strong and maintained a vigilant telephone and email presence.

Operating on a shoestring budget, we continued holding functions in private homes and offered support as best as we could.

Around 2007 we felt that continuing on as a gay and bisexual men’s group was marginalising those in the community who were transgender and so after consulting our membership we elected to become fully inclusive, accepting anyone with a Jewish identity as a member, irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.

We also noticed a need to cater specifically to Jewish youth and so Young Aleph was formed in 2007. A dynamic leadership team and fun events saw packed attendances for weeks and weeks. Young Aleph was a hugely successful experiment that ran until approximately 2009.

The shooting at the Tel Aviv LGBT Centre on August 1 2009 was a turning point for Aleph Melbourne. The now-dormant Melbourne-based AJN Watch blog wrote some hideous commentary about this event, degrading and vilifying gay men in the process. As an advocacy group, Aleph Melbourne reached out to the JCCV and asked for their help to combat this intolerance.

Whilst no practical support was initially forthcoming, the JCCV eventually succumbed to strong pressure from Aleph Melbourne and in late 2009 formed a reference group to start investigating the needs of LGBTIQ Jews. The JCCV has since become an advocate for LGBTIQ inclusion and awareness.

Over the years Aleph Melbourne has attended Pride March, Mardi Gras, In One Voice / Concert in the Park, International Holocaust Remembrance Day events, and the Midsumma Festival.

We made a documentary in 2016 commemorating our 20 year anniversary (1995-2015). This short film has screened in many film festivals around Australia and overseas. Most notably it was included in the Belfast Human Rights Film Festival and the prestigious St Kilda Film Festival.

Whilst Aleph Melbourne has provided a safe space for same-sex attracted Jews for many years now, most recently we have seen an increase in the need for support for transgender and gender-diverse people.

Statements calling for respect for LGBTIQ people together with statements of support for marriage equality, from organisations like the JCCV, Maccabi Victoria and the National Council of Jewish Women, have paved the way for a greater level of acceptance for LGBTIQ people.

Aleph Melbourne continues to offer a home for those Jews who do not identify as heterosexual, who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, or who may identify outside the gender-binary.

The tide has turned in the Jewish community. We have come a long way since 1995 and look forward to an exciting 2018 and beyond.

Michael Barnett
Co-Convenor – Aleph Melbourne

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Ten years ago Robert Weil was claiming AIDS is a gay disease

Ten years ago, in December 2007, the Australian Jewish News published two letters authored by Robert Weil: “AIDS is a gay disease” and “AIDS does discriminate”.  It’s worth reflecting on the strong-held beliefs of Robert Weil to understand the toxic attitudes held by some in Melbourne’s Jewish community.

Robert Weil - AJN - 07-DEC-2007 AIDS DOES DISCRIMINATE

Robert Weil | AJN | 07-DEC-2007 | “AIDS DOES DISCRIMINATE”

Robert Weil - AJN - 21-DEC-2007 - AIDS A GAY DISEASE

Robert Weil | AJN | 21/12/2007 | “AIDS A GAY DISEASE”

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Australian Jewish community stands on the right side of history

Thanks go to the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry for standing on the right side of history in declaring support for marriage equality.

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