In a fantastic show of support from Melbourne’s Jewish community, over 13 community groups and 100+ participants danced their way down the length of Fitzroy Street St Kilda for the Midsumma Pride March.
Following months of planning the day came together without a hitch, not taking into account the 38 degree weather forecast.
The sound system had been boosted with extra speakers, to bring more of our exciting Jewish and Israeli music mix to the street, and the ute was more vibrantly Jewish in appearance.
As with previous years, the crowds cheered us from the sidelines, loving our Jewish solidarity for LGBTIQA+ diversity.
Poignantly, placards of the late David Zyngier were flown especially high to commemorate his participation in the contingent over recent years and his commitment to LGBTIQA+rights.
One long-standing participant of the Jews of Pride contingent told us that being part of the march this year was really important to them and made them even more proud, a sentiment reflected by many others.
We are especially grateful to both Midsumma Festival and Victoria Police LGBTIQA+ Liaison for their assistance in keeping us safe, and to CSG Victoria for their additional assistance.
The Jews of Pride contingent at the 2023 Pride March. Photo: Peter Haskin
I recently attended the 70th anniversary celebration for Hashomer Hatzair, as a friend of the movement.
It was a fabulous event, full of ritual, tradition, community and celebration. The day was tinged with sadness though, as they announced they were entering a period of hiatus due to leadership uncertainties.
My connection with Hashy is mainly through the “Jews of Pride” contingent at the annual Pride March in St Kilda. Each year they attend dressed in their chultzot, bring their flags, dance like crazy, fill my heart with joy and bring tears of happiness to my eyes. I know they will continue to join us, one way or another.
I left the party at Bet Anielewicz, their home in East St Kilda, just as the Israeli dancing was starting. I wanted to stay on but had to be elsewhere. Od Lo Ahavti Dai started playing.
I took a moment to soak in the music before getting into my car. It did something to me. I was transformed to a time when I was learning Israeli dancing. I don’t remember when, but it was powerful. I felt so connected to my Jewish upbringing by this simple but catchy tune.
Right now, the Jewish community is struggling. We are in a world where we hear the footsteps of less friendly times. Those echoes seem to grow louder by the day and we don’t know if we can be ourselves as easily as we could yesterday.
We aren’t alone in this struggle, but our struggle is not a new one, and we know that eternal vigilance is required to fend off the antisemitism.
Since October 7 I have witnessed a new phenomenon. Many people and organisations familiar to me have been swept up with efforts to support Palestinian people. I can understand this, as the humanitarian response to the destruction in Gaza is sizeable.
What I can’t understand is why many of the same people and organisations have chosen to stay silent on or minimise the terrorism that Israel faced, along with Hamas’ plan to erase Israel.
My LGBTIQA+ community has in parts become increasingly hostile towards Jews and Israel. Yet those who enable this juggernaut claim not to be antisemitic, despite supporting initiatives that are nothing but. This saddens me deeply.
However, through my commitment to my Jewish community I know I can help bring a sense of hope, peace, love and optimism. Sunday, February 4 is when “Jews of Pride” comes to life at Melbourne’s Midsumma Pride March. A raft of new and returning community organisations will coalesce in force to show their support for rainbow diversity, amid a burst of Jewish culture and identity.
We are an unstoppable force of unity that is undeniably and unashamedly Jewish. We convey pride in standing for inclusion and acceptance, and pride in who we are as a people.
Fitzroy Street will resonate with familiar Jewish tunes and Israeli music that calls to a solidarity with our families and friends in Israel. Together with fellow contingent organiser Colin Krycer, we urge you to come along and show your support.
Be strong. Be proud. Be there.
Michael Barnett is co-convenor of Aleph Melbourne.
Aleph Melbourne sends a hearty Mazal Tov and congratulations to Co-Convenor Colin Krycer OAM on receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the LGBTIQ community.
Colin has been an amazing contributor to Aleph Melbourne since 1997 and the wider LGBTIQA+ community since the late 1980s.
Within Aleph Melbourne Colin has committed himself to supporting LGBTIQA+ people in the Jewish community. The Jews of Pride contingent in Pride March would never have been the success that it is without Colin’s amazing skills.
Most notably, Colin has selflessly dedicated many years and countless thousands of hours to supporting people living with HIV/AIDS initially through the Victorian AIDS Council and ongoing volunteering efforts through Thorne Harbour Health, along with additional past associations with the AIDS Memorial Quilt Project and Candlelight Vigil.
Colin also has a long and proud association with JOY Media since it launched on World AIDS Day in 1993.
We are so proud of our Colin. He is a quiet, behind-the-scenes kinda guy. He doesn’t seek or want attention, and just gives of himself, tirelessly.
Thank you Colin for your commitment, passion, enthusiasm, guidance and sense of humour. We are so much richer for what you do and who you are.
Federation Chamber CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS Zyngier, Dr David
Thursday, 30 November 2023
Mr BURNS (Macnamara) (09:33): I rise with sadness to acknowledge the passing of Dr David Zyngier this past weekend. David was a sitting councillor in the city of Glen Eira and a passionate advocate for social justice, education and our community. David’s passing came as a great shock to all of us. David was the son of Holocaust survivors from Poland, and he was the first in his family to complete high school and attend university. He graduated from Monash University, where he later returned as an academic and as an educator.
David was a well-respected member of our Jewish community. We didn’t always agree on things—in fact, we often didn’t agree on things—but I respected his intellect and his willingness to tackle difficult issues. He was a leader in the youth movement Hashomer Hatzair, a principal of the King David School, an active member of his synagogue, a member of the Jewish Climate Network and a fierce advocate for LGBTIQ+ rights in our community. He was elected as the councillor for Camden Ward in the city of Glen Eira just a few years ago, and he quickly became a passionate advocate for climate action and public services on the council. He co-founded the Glen Eira Emergency Climate Action Network and helped to develop the council’s target of achieving net zero council emissions by 2025.
David and I belonged to different political parties. Indeed, not only did he not vote for me but he actively campaigned against me at the last election. He was a proud member of the Greens. But, before he drifted into that journey, David actually launched my campaign, in 2014, when I was a candidate in the state election. He was a friend. I think he probably had sympathy for both our parties, but in the end he made the decision, he stuck with it and he was proud of that association.
David was respectful, kind and compassionate. He was an active member of our community and he always sought to represent people in the best way he knew how. He came into my office frequently. He would sit down and, as we had a cup of tea, he would try and convince me of what actions needed to happen, usually on a council matter. He would push for things like greater bike paths, greater active citizenship and, obviously, climate action as well. He joined our campaign in the referendum and was a big part of the Macnamara for Yes campaign, even though he was unwell at the time.
Throughout his life he committed himself to research, to education, to activism and to community life. He was a good man, he was a smart man, he was a community man and he enriched our community by all of his efforts. To his wife, Suzanne, and his children, Romy, Talia and Joel, I send my deepest condolences. I also send my condolences to the Greens and the broader Greens community. As we say in the Jewish tradition, may his memory be a blessing.
On the afternoon of October 7 Susie Danziger and I arrived at the JOY studios in St Kilda to record interviews with Demetra Giannakopoulos for her show Life is a Disco.
We spent a good couple of hours in the studio at the back overlooking the huge peppercorn tree. The tree captivated me because it was full of birdlife, most notably a wattlebird and a currawong.
Demetra was a delight. She asked the most thoughtful questions and was congenial, sensitive and refreshing. We were at ease, and our conversation happened naturally.
I went first, Susie followed. We gave the JOY audience our all.
Following the interview I dropped Susie home and we went on with our day.
It was only a matter of hours later that the terrorist organisation Hamas perpetrated an unforgivable able act of evil upon innocent people in Israel.
Our interviews were edited and they aired over the subsequent two weeks.
The world had changed yet again. War had broken out.
It was very challenging, knowing that we had recorded interviews before the terrorist attack, with them going to air afterwards. It’s hard to say if we would have even done the interviews after October 7, just because of the way everything panned out.
Despite that, it was a privilege being part of Demetra’s show and having the opportunity to tell our stories.
Aleph Melbourne was established in 1995 to provide a safe place for gay and bisexual Jewish men in Melbourne. Since then we have expanded to include LGBTIQA+ people, families and allies.
In all the years of the group’s existence we have lived in relative harmony with the wider LGBTIQA+ community.
However in recent weeks, since the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas and the ensuing war, many of our members, their family members and their friends have contacted me regarding reports of feeling unsafe in the LGBTIQA+ community.
These people have reported being scared of presenting as Jewish in public and on social media. There have been reports of antisemitism and calls for boycotting Jewish organisations by LGBTIQA+ people. There have been reports of feeling unsafe in LGBTIQA+ venues.
Aleph Melbourne’s purpose has always been to stand up for LGBTIQA+ people on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Now I am finding I need to support our members on the basis of their Jewish identity. This takes a personal toll on me, as it means I need to spend many more hours of my personal time fighting a different sort of intolerance.
I ask you, my friends, my community members, the leaders of the LGBTIQA+ community, to think of the ramifications of taking sides, especially when it has direct impact on the very people you care most about.
If LGBTIQA+ people are hurting in Melbourne or elsewhere in Australia because of antisemitism, or Islamophobia, or any sort of intolerance, then we are no longer a cohesive community. Together we stand. Divided we fall.
Please think hard before you take any side, especially if it’s going to cause division amongst your peers, friends, family (chosen or otherwise) or community.
Chanshi is a dark comedy television series about a Jewish girl from Brooklyn who runs away to Israel to become the free, adventurous woman she was born to be. Unlike her peers, Chanshi carries with her a fantasy that good religious girls like her shouldn’t — a fantasy involving Israeli soldiers. She takes off for Israel under the guise of surprising her best friend, who has upcoming nuptials of her own, but her friend confesses that she thinks she is making a mistake and she’s a lesbian. Together they rebel against their traditional upbringings and find new ways of being young Jewish women.
All I Can Do is a powerfully moving and incendiary courtroom drama focusing on the legal aspects of sexual violence. Reut, a young prosecutor, reluctantly takes over a sexual assault case, based on the sole testimony of Efrat, a rebellious yet fragile victim who lives with her wild female partner. As the case evolves, Reut’s personal life resonates with the challenges of the case and the courtroom. Both women must learn to work together to learn the true nature of strength, love and sisterhood.