JEWISH AUSTRALIANS SAY YES TO EQUALITY

JEWISH AUSTRALIANS SAY YES TO EQUALITY
SEPTEMBER 20 2017

Right now in Australia, there is a battle going on for the dignity and rights of people that happen to not be heterosexual.  The entire country is being asked to vote on the rights of one section of the community.  As Jews, we know too well the dangers of singling out one group of people, and refusing them the rights that are shared by all.  As Jews, we know too well the cost of silence in the face of discrimination and injustice.  We will not stand by in silence as part of our community is stereotyped, vilified, judged, treated differently.  We are all diminished when we discriminate against and demean the love between people based on their sexuality.  We are all strengthened when we support and uphold the rights of people to be treated equally.

We are proud to add our names to the growing list of supporters who recognise the right to love freely, and the right to be treated equally under the law.  We stand in support of same sex marriage in Australia.  Our community is diverse, and we owe it to all our members to know that they do not stand alone.

In a truly progressive and inclusive society, the rights of all people are respected equally. Currently in Australia the right to marry is denied to LGBTQI couples.  As Jewish Australians, we believe that there should be no law that discriminates against one section of our community.  We embrace diversity in our community and in society.

A no vote in this postal survey has no place in a pluralistic and secular country such as ours and would simply entrench discrimination against LGBTQI people.  We cannot say we believe in equality, but only in certain circumstances.  Therefore, we urge people to vote for fairness, respect and diversity.

Vote YES, so that we are all equal under the law.

To add your name to this list please email contact@aleph.org.au.

SIGNATORIES

  • Sandra Schneiderman, Secondary Teacher, working with and for the United Nations
  • Mark Cherny, Ophthalmic surgeon
  • Manny Waks, Victims Advocate
  • Max Gettler, Actor
  • Hinde Ena Burstin, Writer and Lecturer
  • Arnold Zable, Author and human rights advocate
  • David Burstin, Software Engineer
  • Emma Kowal, Research Professor
  • Shauna Sherker, Research Scientist
  • Deborah Cohn, Doctor
  • David Krycer, musician and teacher
  • Rebecca Krycer, artist
  • Sefra Burstin, Dance Studio Principal
  • Simon Gomolinski, retired
  • Lyndall Katz, trainer in Social Housing sector
  • Deborah Feldman, SAHM
  • David Laloum, IT manager
  • Sivan Barak, Social worker
  • Michelle Fink, Doctor
  • Sheree Waks, self-employed
  • Vivienne Porzsolt, community activist
  • Hedy Sussmann, student
  • Lara Sonnenschein, student
  • Linda Sonnenschein, lawyer
  • Denis Sonnenschein, engineer
  • Daniel Ergas, student
  • Noa Zulman, student
  • Jordy Silverstein, historian
  • Michael Zylberman, Chairperson, Jewish Labour Bund Inc.
  • Sandra Padova, retired
  • Bill Arnold,JP, Pharmacist
  • Judy Pincus, Aged Care worker
  • Beverley Olbourne, Doctor
  • Ros Goldman,retired
  • Hannah Fagenblat, retired
  • Dr David Zyngier Associate Professor SCU
  • Keren Tova Rubinstein
  • Zoe Feigen, veterinarian
  • Carla Magid, Teacher
  • Jewish Labour Bund Inc.
  • SKIF
  • Dvora Zylberman, Teacher
  • Reyzl Zylberman, Teacher
  • Olivia Frim, Student
  • Deborah Rosenberg, Social Justice Supporter
  • Nizza Siano, political activist
  • The Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria
  • Renata Singer, writer
  • Shane Golden, Oncology Nurse
  • Joan Nestle, writer
  • Marion Singer, arts worker
  • Deborah Zion, Associate Professor and Bioethicist
  • Sue Beecher, psychologist, social worker, meditation teacher
  • Naomi Lisner Actor/Writer/Producer and Life Model
  • Anna Epstein, curator, editor
  • Debra nirens, Teacher assistant / massage therapist
  • Paul Russell, Academic
  • Mark Baker, Academic
  • David Danziger, Company director and performance motivation trainer
  • Sandra Hochberg, Social worker
  • Akiva Quinn, IT & Community Work
  • Jack Diamond, Chairperson, Box Hill Institute Group & Council of Adult Education
  • Robin Margo, ex founding editor-in-chief Plus61J
  • Anne Gawenda teacher
  • Abraham Weizfeld P.D. Canadian Bundist
  • Andrew Cohn, Circulation manager
  • Bruce Baker, Orthodontist
  • Michelle Baker, Practice Manager
  • Sylvie Leber, artist/musician and human rights activist
  • Esther Grinfeld, research scientist
  • Tessa Boucher, retired teacher
  • Karen Silverman, academic
  • Daniel Ari Baker, lawyer, World Trade Organization (Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Sabina Berman, company director
  • Paul Berman, company director
  • Leah Garrett, Professor of Jewish Studies at Monash University
  • Angela Budai, Union official
  • Daniel Goldberg, student
  • Gilad Cohen, Student
  • Michael Gawenda, journalist and writer
  • Nelly Zola, retired
  • Zina Sofer, photographer
  • Sandi Issacs, Nurse
  • Eve Rosenberg, retired
  • Helen Rosenberg, Equality Supporter
  • Husky Gawenda
  • Pip Mushin – Director
  • Feygi Phillips – Teacher
  • Zac Phillips – Student
  • Carly Rosenthal, Student
  • Noah Shilkin, Recording Artist
  • Russell Goldblatt, Student
  • Ginette Preston, Humanist
  • Robert Preston, Humanist
  • Shelley Rosen, Teacher
  • Larry Stillman, Senior Research Fellow
  • Debra Star, Tram Driver
  • Freydi Mrocki, Performer and Teacher
  • Sara Kowal, Lawyer
  • Ross Lomazov, Student
  • Joan Dwyer OAM
  • Joe Tigel – Director, Kadimah
  • Michelle Nachsatz, teacher
  • Michele Huppert, Psychologist
  • John Warszawski
  • Leah Boulton, Art Director
  • Pathways Melbourne
  • Marcia Jacobs, Teacher/Writer
  • Lionel Mrocki, Naturopath / Musician
  • Joel Nothman, data scientist
  • Sara Vidal, author
  • Jacqueline Geary, Retired
  • Avi Cohen, educator
  • Elsa Tuet-Rosenberg, human
  • Esther Jilovsky, Student Rabbi
  • Asher Preston
  • Yvette Coppersmith, artist and teacher
  • Helen Light, Consultant
  • David Slucki, historian
  • Helen Slucki, higher education administrator
  • Henry Monkus, Doctor
  • Talia Katz, Communications Specialist
  • Sylvia Haber, Teacher
  • Sasha Osowicki, nurse
  • Sholam Blustein, consultant
  • Natalie Blustein, sales
  • Solomon Bender, semi retired
  • Josh Osowicki, doctor
  • Cara Mand, researcher
  • Ros Harari, Student counsellor, family therapist
  • Marila Lustig, retired
  • Emma Shulman, teacher
  • Jason Shulman, teacher
  • Bram Presser, writer and lawyer
  • Siri Clemans
  • Leon Harari, IT consultant
  • Sharon Burstin
  • Dave Wynne, Engineer
  • Ben Mand President – Sholem Aleichem College
  • Devorah Koronczyk
  • Toby Bender, Musician
  • Tamar Simons, Jewish International Film Festival Manager
  • Fay Mest, teacher aide
  • Rabbi Allison RH Conyer
  • Melinda Jones, human rights lawyer
  • Tammy Goldwasser, Doctor
  • Jeff Robinson – Manager
  • Anthony Levin, Human Rights lawyer, Sydney
  • Wendy Gill – Disability/Mental health Case Manager
  • Gita Goldberg – Disability support worker
  • Gideon Preiss, Musician
  • Miki Iitake, mother of two
  • Dalit Kaplan, lawyer and storyteller
  • Suzi Riess, Doctor
  • Karen Loblay, Managing Director
  • Elise Hearst, writer
  • Janet Gluch Psychologist
  • Shiri Shapiro
  • Ms. Zvia Ben Rahamim
  • Linda Wachtel – artist
  • Sam Perla – Medical Practitioner
  • Lucien Richter – Lawyer
  • Goldie Zyskind, Loss and grief counsellor
  • Jack Strom – Producer, Director and Artist Manager
  • Raphael Dascalu – Researcher, translator, editor
  • Ben Guralnek – Estimator
  • Naomi Raymond Moss
  • Sari Schmidt – Website developer
  • Jessica Richter – lawyer
  • Irving Wallach, Barrister
  • Eytan Lenko – Executive Director
  • Andrew Gelbart, Human
  • Tirtzah (Therese) Kutis
  • Ben Silverstein, historian
  • Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS)
  • Susan Koutsky Retired
  • Danielle Hersz, IT Professional
  • Gabrielle shroot, writer
  • Leslie Shroot, consultant
  • Lisa Amitai, instructional designer and writer
  • Dr Ron Elisha, GP
  • Zara Seidler, student
  • Roger Velik, director
  • Robert Richter – QC
  • Shaynee Hall, Dance teacher
  • Jake Hall, PT
  • Adam Gomolinski, Consultant
  • Shelley Segal Singer songwriter
  • Nadine Davidoff
  • Michelle Szwarcberg
  • Elaine Davidoff
  • Sid Davidoff
  • David Neustein, director of Other Architects
  • Joshua Reuben, student
  • Zoi Juvris, program manager of Courage to Care
  • Savannah Juvris
  • Marc Kron
  • Nicole Myerson, psychologist
  • Ray Barnes, social worker
  • Miron Goldwasser Doctor
  • Bronia Witorz, retired teacher
  • Bindy Edelman, Diversity and Inclusion Manager
  • Michael Debinski
  • Toni Whitmont, sound healer
  • Michael Barnett, Equality Activist
  • Rose Blustein – Retired
  • Charles Shaie Blustein – Retired
  • David Langsam, Journalist/Editor
  • David Jones, Clinical Psychologist
  • Glenda Jones, Psychologist
  • Penelope Jones
  • Allan Preiss – consultant
  • Davina Cohen, social worker
  • Rabbi Jeffrey B. Kamins OAM
  • Eliza McCarroll – student rabbi
  • Benjamin Sheiman – Student
  • Dudy Margalit
  • Sylvia Jacobs
  • Moran Dvir
  • Ilana Snyder, emeritus professor
  • Kim Gotlieb – Psychotherapist
  • Essie Lustig – hospital admin
  • Talia Maayan – Paediatrician
  • Julia Blum – psychotherapist
  • Tom Hersz – Compliance Manager
  • Keshira haLev Fife – Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess) and Registered Marriage Celebrant
  • Tim Fife – Strategy Consultant
  • Rob Gould, art dealer
  • Kate Gould – Neuropsychologist
  • Anna Faiman – Campus Administrator
  • Jamie Hyams, Councillor – City of Glen Eira
  • Tali Rechtman, law graduate
  • Lee-Ronn Paluch, Veterinarian
  • Casey-Ann Wainer – Teacher, PhD candidate, Singer-Songwriter
  • Rosy Fischbein – Admin Manager
  • Jacqui Saunders – Production Controller
  • Cassandra Barrett – Mental Health Promotion
  • Dan Schroeder – Barber
  • Lois Brown – Assistive Technology Consultant
  • Stiofán Mac Suibhne – Lecturer
  • Stephen Camden-Smith – IT professional
  • Luke Power
  • Craig Carr, Public servant
  • Suzanne D. Rutland, OAM
  • Romi Kupfer, Theatre Director
  • Nina Rubinstein
  • Marilyn Kraner, Social Worker
  • Corinne Deitch – Art therapist
  • Alana Scherr, Jewess with the Mostess

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.

My story: coming out as trans | Star Observer

My story: coming out as trans

To mark the end of Mental Health Week and yesterday’s National Coming Out Day, Marco Fink pens a piece in which she comes out as trans, after realising she is not alone and that support is always available.
Marco Fink — October 12, 2014
Marco Fink

YESTERDAY, I told the world that I’m a girl.

First, through a conversation with my parents, second by a Facebook post, and now via this article.

I’ve been thinking for a long time about the right way to talk to everyone about something so big. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of figuring out, but I’m ready and I want to be open and honest.

Growing up, everyone always said to “be a man” and others always told me I was a boy. Even though I didn’t always feel as though it really fit or felt right, I went along with it anyway.

As I got older I started to figure things out more. I was probably about 10 or 11 when I discovered the idea of a “transgender” person.

I was pretty freaked out. All the transphobia and horrible stereotypes I saw on TV and in movies had given me a pretty warped idea of what it meant to be trans*, and as an 11-year-old kid it was overwhelming. I hated it.

I buried my feelings and tried to make myself forget. It was the only way I could cope. I figured denial was easier, pretending I was fine and just forcing myself to power through. My logic was maybe if I ignored it and tried to force myself to “be a man”, maybe eventually I’d just “learn” to be like everyone else.

That didn’t work. Maybe for a few months, even sometimes a year or two, I’d be okay, but it would always come back. I’ve never been able to shake it.

When I was younger, I struggled with depression for many years, and like anyone battling mental health problems, I had some dark and low moments. Then one day one of my friends came out as a trans man. I’d met him through Minus18 a few years back at one of their summer social events. He was a year older than me and a close friend, I really looked up to him.

It was the first time I’d actually knowingly met another trans* person.

All the misconceptions I had about what it meant to be trans started melting away. My friend was still the same nice, kind, funny person as always. The only thing that changed was the name and pronouns we used when talking about him.

Up until that moment I hadn’t been able to accept myself. I had refused to accept myself because that meant admitting I was “different”. I thought it meant being alone. I thought it meant being excluded and mocked. But watching people love and accept my friend for who he was changed everything. It showed me how wrong I was about it all.

It hadn’t even occurred to me that my friends wouldn’t reject me, that society wouldn’t despise me, that my family would maybe even be able to accept me, just like his family did.

For LGBT youth it seems that that’s always the hardest part; feeling alone and isolated. So many people aren’t even aware of just how many other people are out there that can relate and share similar stories.

I found these stories by joining Minus18. It changed my life, and suddenly I was exposed to hundreds of other young people who “just got it”, who could help me through everything, and who would rebuild my confidence.

Marco Fink
Marco Fink

I finally worked up the courage to come out this week. I’d been waiting eagerly for National Coming Out Day.

My parents were shocked for sure, but they told me they loved me no matter what. The reactions on Facebook have been just as incredible. It’s been so freeing to finally be able to be myself and tell the world this is the girl I’m meant to be.

The sense of community and support Minus18 has given me has been enormous, and has provided that for thousands of other LGBT young people all over Victoria and Australia.

Sadly, the incredible support and love I’ve received by coming out as trans* isn’t the norm for Australian youth. With 66 per cent of gender-diverse and trans* young people experiencing transphobic abuse, there’s still such a long way to go before we can say they’re safe.

Minus18’s next big step, the Atrium, is a safe space where young people can meet other LGBT youth. It’s a space where young people come from all over Melbourne can come and be themselves. If I can provide just one more trans* young person with the amazing, supportive space that I was given, it’ll be the most incredible thing in the world.

Marco Fink is the Communications Manager at Minus18, Australia’s National Organisation for LGBT youth. She’s been involved with the organisation for four years, working on written resources, campaigns, and videos to help support LGBT young people like herself. Follow her on Twitter: @marcofink

CLICK HERE to make a donation to Minus18’s crowdfunding campaign for the Atrium.

Union for Progressive Judaism applauds American move to advance Marriage Equality

The Union for Progressive Judaism applauds
American move to advance Marriage Equality

 

The Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ) welcomes the landmark decision by the American Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor declaring Section 3 of the 1996 “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) unconstitutional.  In its 5-4 decision, the Court found that same-sex couples who are legally married are entitled to equal treatment under US federal law.

The Progressive Movement has always believed in equality and that extends to the gay and lesbian communities and we welcome them into our congregations.  Commending the decision, UPJ President Stephen Freeman and Executive Director, Steve Denenberg said “Today’s decisions by the US Supreme Court represent an historic and positive step towards justice and equality for same sex couples. The decision in this case states that failure to recognize same-sex couples was a violation of equal protection for legally married same-sex couples. The UPJ believes that this decision supports the call for marriage equality to be accepted in Australia in order that same-sex couples receive the respect, rights, and recognition that they deserve. We believe that these decisions are a victory not just for the LGBT community but for all who value equality and fairness in our society.”

[ PDF statement here / official statement here ]

Australia’s LGBT community marks a bar mitzvah milestone | Haaretz

Australia’s LGBT community marks a bar mitzvah milestone | Haaretz.

Australia’s LGBT community marks a bar mitzvah milestone

Thirteen years after the Jewish float debuted at Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, members of the community look back on their struggle and say there’s still work to be done.

By | Mar.04, 2013 | 11:19 AM

 

Mazel tov! The Jewish float at Sydney’s 2013 Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. Photo by Tomer Hasson

 

It was a bar mitzvah like no other. A throng of Jewish men and women adorned with rainbow-colored prayer shawls and sporting pink kippot danced near the centerpiece of the simcha – a truck decorated with a gigantic Star of David emblazoned with the words “mazel tov.”

Some 10,000 others joined the parade while hundreds of thousands watched, as Australia’s Jewish float marked its coming of age Saturday night at the 2013 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Twenty-four hours earlier, 75 people attended a gay Shabbat dinner at Sydney’s Emanuel Synagogue, which incorporates Conservative, Reform and Renewal congregations, following a special service peppered with readings by gay members to mark the milestone.

Kim Gotlieb, the president of Dayenu, Sydney’s Jewish gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender group, acknowledged the support from Emanuel Synagogue in a letter last week. It is reassuring to know that “we belong to a gay-friendly synagogue which continues to walk beside us in addressing issues of inclusion and acceptance,” he wrote.

Emanuel’s rabbi, Jacqueline Ninio, also made mention of the LGBT community in the congregation’s weekly newsletter, writing: “During the years, we have used the process of interpretation and understanding to reimagine the laws of Judaism to be inclusive and welcoming of gays and lesbians. But there is still a long way to go – both legally and within our culture.”

‘Stars of David Come Out’

Despite Rabbi Ninio’s caveat, most of Sydney’s gay Jews acknowledge their predicament today is a far cry from the first Jewish float at the Mardi Gras in 2000, which featured a three-ton truck adorned with a giant three-dimensional Star of David. The float has been an annual feature since then, with the exception of 2006.
Back then about 150 gay Jews and their supporters, including Holocaust survivor Susie Wise, celebrated alongside the float, under the banner “Stars of David Come Out.”

“We were the Stars of David glowing in the dark of homophobia,” recalled Dawn Cohen, the coordinator of the first Jewish float, in a reflective article. “We’re saying ‘no’ … we’re going to invite you all to work through your internalized anti-Semitism and homophobia and to celebrate with us.”

Cohen and the other founders named themselves “Dayenu,” the Hebrew word for “enough” that is the common refrain of the Passover song of the same name.

However, “Dayenu” was also the response the group received from the Orthodox rabbinate, which was exacerbated by Vic Alhadeff, then editor of the Sydney edition of the Australian Jewish News. Alhadeff published a front-page photo of the first Jewish float on March 10, 2000.

“Of all the controversial positions I took as editor of the Australian Jewish News, the one of which I was proudest was going to the barricades on behalf of the right of Jewish gays to be gay,” Alhadeff told Haaretz this week. “Because I saw the impact it had – on human lives, on families, on individuals, on members of our own community.”

The controversy dominated the newspaper’s pages for weeks, including an ad signed by 28 prominent Australian Jews expressing support for gay Jewish rights and for the newspaper to reflect the community’s diversity.

Bar mitzvah boys celebrate at the 2013 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Bar mitzvah boys celebrate at the 2013 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.Tomer Hasson

“Overwhelmingly, the community spoke out in support of the newspaper,” Cohen recalled. “They didn’t want Jewish homosexuals to be invisible. It was not a vote in favor of lesbian and gay marriage, but it was an unprecedented warning to the Orthodox rabbinate about the limits of its control.”

Inevitably, the backlash soon followed. The Sydney Beth Din demanded Alhadeff explain himself at a rabbinic hearing. They also summoned Hilton Immerman, the chief executive of the Shalom Institute – which advances Jewish learning and leadership – for hosting a gay Shabbat on the Friday night before the 2000 Mardi Gras.

Neither Alhadeff nor Immerman agreed. Immerman said he would only consider it “after being able to peruse the charges that a particular individual had brought against us.”

“As these were never forthcoming, we did not appear,” Immerman told Haaretz. “I was lobbied by two or three Orthodox rabbis at the time to cancel the event. I explained that any Jews had the right to celebrate Shabbat and that I would protect their right to do so.

“It’s absurd to think that sexual orientation was even regarded as relevant,” Immerman said.

Among those who attended that Shabbat dinner was Ariel Friedlander, an American-born lesbian rabbi, and Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, the senior rabbi of Emanuel Synagogue in Sydney.

The furor created “huge tension” among Australian Jewry, recalled Kamins, who was also a board member of Shalom at the time.

But gay Jews have become “hugely” enfranchised since then, Kamins said, noting that Emanuel was at the “vanguard and forefront.”

‘Mutual respect regardless of sexual orientation’

Indeed, the former Californian officiated at Australia’s first same-sex Jewish commitment service at Emanuel in 2008 – between Scott Whitmont and Christopher Whitmont-Stein – following a May 2007 decision by the Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

However, Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick, president of the Organization of Rabbis of Australasia, countered at the time: “While we may and should be tolerant towards individuals, we certainly cannot sanctify something that our Bible clearly prohibits.”
Haaretz recently has learned the names of several Orthodox rabbis in Sydney and Melbourne who welcome individual gay Jews, but their names cannot be made public.

“Do 612 mitzvot and we won’t worry about the 613th,” one Orthodox rabbi told a gay congregant, according to Dayenu’s Gotlieb.

Kamins and Immerman agreed the general Jewish community is more open. “Gay Jews are less marginalized today,” Immerman said. “Most of the Jewish establishment has become more welcoming but I guess some segments of the community are more so than others.”

In 2010, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry adopted a resolution in 2010 calling for “mutual respect” regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

But the elected leadership acknowledged there is still “much work” to be done to “remove intolerance of and unlawful discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the Jewish community.”

Intolerance and discrimination were widespread in Melbourne in 1999 when Michael Barnett led the first attempt by Aleph Melbourne, a Jewish GLBT support group, to apply for membership of the roof body, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria.

The move sparked an acrimonious debate ending with an impassioned plea by now-deceased Rabbi Ronald Lubofsky, who claimed if the motion passed it “may well be a turning point in our community,” and would result in the collapse of the council because Orthodox associates would be forced to resign.

“This JCCV has no right to meddle with the fundamentals of Judaism,” he said.
But Barnett argued that rejecting the group would be “a win for fear, intolerance and prejudice.” The motion was narrowly denied, 46-39, and the Jewish LGBT group has remained outside the tent ever since.

Barnett told Haaretz this week that the improved lot of gays in the general community affected the Jews as well. “The conversations seem to be less unacceptable now, given that homosexuality is more visible in wider society,” he said.

“It’s not something that can just be dismissed as ‘not our problem.’ It’s still taboo in the frum circles, and I suspect it’s pretty much spoken about in disparaging terms,” he added.

But while Reform and Conservative Judaism in Australia has embraced the gay community, Gotlieb wants to “challenge” for more inclusiveness.

“I would like to see more inclusion at Emanuel, more awareness that most gay people are somewhat distanced from their families,” he said.

There are still many Australian Jews whose view on gays is “personal and heartfelt and accepting,” he said. “But then they apologize that they are not able to express that publicly.”

Orthodox Jewish Approaches to Same-Sex Relationships @ Caulfield Hebrew Congregation

On November 22, 2012 Caulfield Hebrew Congregation will be hosting a talk entitled Orthodox Jewish Approaches to Same-sex Relationships as part of it’s iLearn series.  Ittay Flescher will be facilitating the discussion.

Admission is $10 and the talk starts at 8pm.  Download the booking form here.  Please RSVP to the CHC office on (03) 9525-9492 for further information.  It may be ok to turn up on the evening and pay at the door but best to book  in advance to avoid disappointment.