MEDIA RELEASE: In memory of Anton Hermann

Aleph Melbourne is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Anton Hermann in a cycling accident on July 6 2019.

Anton was Vice President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV). In this capacity Anton was key in formulating the JCCV apology to Aleph Melbourne in April 2019 – an apology in response to the JCCV voting to reject Aleph’s membership to the JCCV 20 years earlier, in May 1999.

Anton was proactive in listening to the concerns of Aleph (including meeting with Aleph representatives Michael Barnett and Shaun Miller) and also reviewing the minutes of the JCCV meeting from May 1999 at which Aleph’s membership to the JCCV was rejected.

Anton came to understand the hateful and hurtful language of some delegates at the JCCV meeting of 20 years ago, and the long term negative impact this had on many LGBTIQ people in the Jewish community and also on their allies.

With conviction, compassion and consensus, Anton ensured that the JCCV apology was genuine, meaningful and unconditional.

This is just one of many actions of Anton’s that had a positive and uplifting social impact in relation to the Jewish community, the LGBTIQ community, and the broader community.

Anton’s untimely death is devastating to all who knew him and who were helped by him. We extend our sincere condolences to his family

Aleph will always remember his values and value his memory.

For further comment contact Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541 or michael@aleph.org.au.

Aleph Melbourne is a social, support and advocacy group for same-sex attracted, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people (and allies) who have a Jewish heritage, living in Melbourne, Australia.

ENDS

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Congratulations Margie Fischer AM!

Aleph Melbourne congratulates Margie Fischer on being included in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Details below courtesy of J-Wire.


MEMBER [AM] IN THE GENERAL DIVISION OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA

Margaret Charlotte FISCHER, Hahndorf SA 5245

Margie Fischer AM

For significant service to the festival sector, and to the LGBTIQ community.

Feast Adelaide Queer Arts and Cultural Festival

  • Co-Founder 1997.
  • Committee Member and Mentor, Queer Youth Drop In, since 2014.
  • Former Artistic Director.
  • Former Deputy Chair.

Vitalstatistix – Port Adelaide

  • Board Advisor, 2014.
  • Artistic Director, 1984-1994.
  • Co-Founder, 1984.

Community – Jewish

  • Member, Chevra Kadisha, Adelaide Progressive Jewish Congregation, since 2013.
  • Member, Beit Shalom Synagogue, Adelaide Progressive Jewish Congregation, since 1995.
  • Former Member, South Australian Branch, National Council of Jewish Women Australia.

Awards and recognition includes:

  • Ruby Award, Sustained Contribution by an Individual, Arts South Australia, 2017.
  • Adelaide Citizen of the Year, 2012.
  • Geoff Crowhurst Memorial Award, Arts South Australia.
  • Ros Bower Award, Australia Council for the Arts.

“It is an honour to be recognised for my work. When I heard I’d been awarded one it truly was a shock, but a good shock,” said Margie Fischer.

She regards it as a privilege to continue working with LGBTIQ artists both established and emerging, young people and Elders across gender and sexuality.

“I am an outsider and like being one. I am just drawn to people on the outside.  Everything I do is informed by my cultural background” Margie Fishcher told J-Wire.

Her parents were Holocaust survivors who came to Australia as refugees and she grew up speaking both Yiddish and Austrian at home. She continues to run the Queer Youth Drop In and Gay Bingo and work on a number of creative projects.

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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.

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Aleph Melbourne launches 2019 Federal Election Voters Guide for LGBTIQ Equality

MEDIA RELEASE
14 MAY 2019

ALEPH MELBOURNE LAUNCHES 2019 FEDERAL ELECTION VOTERS GUIDE FOR LGBTIQ EQUALITY

Aleph Melbourne is proud to announce its 2019 Voters Guide for LGBTIQ Equality.  The Voters Guide is designed to assist voters living in Victorian voting divisions with high Jewish populations best select candidates who have comprehensively demonstrated or pledged support for LGBTIQ equality.

The 2019 Voters Guide for LGBTIQ Equality is online at https://aleph.org.au/2019votersguide

Based on the Equality Australia’s Rainbow Votes 2019 – Party Surveys, we categorise the issues as Voice in Government Policy Making, Social inclusion, Protection at work, Religious exemptions, Conversion Therapy, Reformation of sports exemptions, Access to Medicare for gender affirmation treatment, Refugees, Government funded services, Protection for rainbow families, and Support in schools.

We encourage voters to locate their voting district, 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 2019 Voters Guide for LGBTIQ Equality follows on from our 2013 Voters Guide to Marriage Equality in Jewish Melbourne, 2016 Voters Guide to Marriage Equality in Jewish Melbourne and 2018 Victorian State Election Voters Guide for LGBTIQ Equality.

ENDS

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

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Dayenu’s “Stars of David Come Out” at 2000 Sydney Mardi Gras

Dayenu’s “Stars of David Come Out” at Sydney Mardi Gras, Saturday March 4 2000.

Reproduction permitted for any pro-LGBTIQ use; name credit requested to Michael Barnett.

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JOY Saturday Magazine: Michael Barnett discusses the JCCV apology to Aleph Melbourne

Saturday Magazine / Current Affairs / Michael Barnett from Aleph Melbourne

Michael Barnett from Aleph Melbourne

Presented by David ‘Macca’ McCarthy & Tass Mousaferiadis

Michael Barnett is the co-convener of Aleph @AlephMelbourne. They recently received an official apology from the Jewish Community Council Victoria for exclusion over 20 years ago. This is an historic occasion, because this is the first time a Jewish organisation has apologised, worldwide, for such things. 20 years of this hurt has been wiped away by this apology. JCCV have agreed that it was not just harmful but hateful.

Podcast: Download (Duration: 8:26 — 5.8MB)

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NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Resolution on Brunei

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Resolution on Brunei passed at Plenum on April 16 2019.

RESOLUTION

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies:

  1. Reaffirms its policy and that of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ):
  • calling for respect for the sanctity of the lives and dignity of all people; and
  • opposing any public or private conduct that incites hatred, ridicule or contempt of another person or class of persons on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  1. Joins with the ECAJ and:
  • deplores the recent criminalisation of same-sex relationships between consenting adults under Brunei’s Syariah Penal Code, with punishments ranging from whipping and imprisonment through to death by stoning;
  • condemns the government of Brunei for introducing a law that mandates the brutal repression, persecution and death of LGBTIQ people;
  • commends Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong, among others, for publicly expressing to the government of Brunei their strong opposition to the new law; and
  • calls on the Australian government to make known its opposition to the legally-sanctioned persecution and vilification of LGBTIQ people to the governments of all countries in which such persecution and vilification occurs.

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Macnamara Candidates Forum – Question on Discrimination in Religious Schools – April 7 2019

Great Debate Macnamara 2019 banner

The Great Debate: Macnamara (at Glen Eira Town Hall)

AUJS and the AZYC, in partnership with the Australian Jewish News, are proud to present The Great Debate for the federal seat of Macnamara.
In the lead up to the federal election, it is vitally important for our community to ask questions and receive answers about the most pressing issues concerning us. This year, we’re giving YOU the power to ask those most burning questions on your mind. We’re opening up submissions now, so click here to submit your questions.
Venue will be announced closer to the date.
Confirmed to attend are:
Josh Burns (Labor)
Kate Ashmor (Liberal)
Steph Hodgins May (Greens)
This event is open to members of our community of all ages. We’re looking forward to stimulating debate and thoughtful dialogue!

Question by Michael Barnett:

“What is your party doing to ensure that all students, and also all teachers and other staff members, at religious schools are fully protected from both direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of their gender identity, sexual orientation, or intersex status?”

Listen to the question followed by responses from Steph Hodgins-May (Greens) @ 1:10, Josh Burns (ALP) @ 2:19, and Kate Ashmor (Liberal) @ 3:47:


Live-blogging via Galus Australis Community:

Al M Fein Michael Barnett asking a question about religious discrimination against LGBTQI people.

Hannah Aroni Next qu: what is your party doing to ensure all students and teachers at religious schools are protected from direct and indirect discrimination re their gender, sexuality or intersex status

Al M Fein People in the audience are talking and giggling. How gross. But good applause.

Hannah Aroni Clarifying this is about uniforms, bathrooms, discrimination re parents, hiding relationships or identity, being forced to attend religious ceremonies w hurtful statements

Al M Fein Steph Hodgins May talking about support for Safe School and oppose religious based discrimination.

Al M Fein Talking more about funding mental health.

Al M Fein Huge applause.

Hannah Aroni Steph noting Greens are long time advocates of safe schools and oppose teacher exemptions from protection against discrimination. Also coming back to mental health funding and hoping to continue working w schools and community to keep kids safe. Big youth applause on that!

Al M Fein Josh Burns talking about most of the Jewish schools making statements condemning homophobia.

Hannah Aroni Josh referencing statements from many specific Jewish schools re not wanting the power to discriminate, saying he’s happy about that, saying we shouldn’t be able to discriminate against students or staff.

Al M Fein Josh sinking the boot into Scomo for bringing religious based discrimination back – funding a Pride Centre in St Kilda

Al M Fein Kate Ashmor talking about being in the Midsumma Pride rally.

Hannah Aroni Josh saying last year the PM sent kids home after reversing onthis issue. Says people should imagine kids going home for summer thinking about that. Noting in this electorate 82% voted for marriage equality, noted Labor commitment to building Pride Centre in St K

Al M Fein And Kate says she voted ‘yes’ in the marriage equality debate BUT she’s saying that she will ensure freedom of religion – and institutionalised homophobia.

Al M Fein Talking about funding in the budget for mental health – to applause.

Hannah Aroni Kate saying she voted yes bc as a Lib she supports freedom and human rights. But saying freedom of religion is a cornerstone of the comm and that parents should be able to choose the values taught in schools and saying she will be a strong voice for that. Saying she was happy w the 720 mil funding and 30 new headspace centres, 4 new ED clinics

Hannah Aroni Being pulled back on this to topic by the moderator. Moderator correcting Kate – Kate tried to claim changes to law didn’t pass parliament bc labor refused, Mod says no, this was bc Libs refused to pas Lab changes

Hannah Aroni Kate saying she supports law to protect students, but stands w the PM re teachers and is … wow how do I do justice to this

Al M Fein More men yelling over women.

Hannah Aroni She’s going on about not being a typical pollie and the crowd thinks she’s full of shit, and Josh has pushed back to say this shows where she stands on the issue

Al M Fein Josh just put Kate back in her box after she claimed that she was talking shit because she is not a ‘staffer’

Hannah Aroni Next qu is about pill testing and harm reduction re drug users

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Coverage of JCCV apology to Aleph Melbourne

This list of articles will be updated as new coverage is identified.

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Michael Barnett from Aleph Melbourne
JOY 94.9 Saturday Magazine / April 14 2019
https://joy.org.au/saturdaymagazine/2019/04/michael-barnett-jccv-apology

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JCCV’s ‘sorry’ to Aleph 20 years on
Australian Jewish News / April 5, 2019
https://www.jewishnews.net.au/jccvs-sorry-to-aleph-20-years-on/88233

[Note, there are a couple of mistakes in the second last paragraph of this story.  Aleph is not currently a member of the JCCV LGBTIQ Reference Group, although there are ongoing discussions about this.  Also, back in 1999 Aleph did not lose members after the failed vote.  The group went into hiatus and when it reformed it didn’t reinstate dues, which means there are no financial members, a prerequisite of becoming a JCCV affiliate.]

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MEDIA RELEASE: Aleph Melbourne receives historic 20 year apology from Jewish Community Council of Victoria
Aleph Melbourne / April 2, 2019
https://aleph.org.au/2019/04/02/media-release-aleph-melbourne-receives-historic-20-year-apology-from-jewish-community-council-of-victoria

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JEWISH LGBTI GROUP ALEPH MELBOURNE RECEIVES ‘HISTORIC’ APOLOGY FROM JEWISH COUNCIL
Star Observer / April 2, 2019
http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/national-news/victoria-news/jewish-lgbti-group-aleph-melbourne-receives-historic-apology-from-jewish-council/180333

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JCCV makes historic apology to Aleph Melbourne
J-Wire / April 2, 2019
http://www.jwire.com.au/jccv-makes-historic-apology-to-aleph-melbourne

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Sorry seems to be the hardest word
Australian Jewish News / March 7, 2019
https://www.jewishnews.net.au/sorry-seems-to-be-the-hardest-word/87175

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Jewish LGBTI group Aleph Melbourne receives ‘historic’ apology from Jewish council | Star Observer

Jewish LGBTI group Aleph Melbourne receives ‘historic’ apology from Jewish council

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