The Jewish community was out in force at the annual Midsumma Pride March last Sunday. With crowds back to normal after the pandemic, there was rapturous applause for the 70 -strong Jews of Pride contingent, with everyone clapping and dancing along to the Jewish music.
Participating organisations included Aleph Melbourne, the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Temple Beth Israel, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Zionism Victoria, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), Pathways Melbourne, SKIF and Temple Beth Israel.
Aleph co-convenor Michael Barnett told The AJN “I am heartened to see the fantastic support from Jewish youth groups, providing a safe and inclusive space for LGBTIQ+ people. We also have more parents and families of young people attending, crucial to the safe development of their children.”
The sentiment was echoed by regular participant, Naomi Barnett, who said it was her best ever Pride March yet, with so much enthusiasm from the sidelines for the Jewish presence.
JCCV vice president Doron Abramovici reflected, “It is a wonderful experience for all Jewish organisations to march together, as a unified group.
Aleph Melbourne welcomes the apology and thanks the JCCV Executive and those members of their council who turned up to vote in favour of the motion.
Whilst the JCCV Executive has always been supportive of Aleph Melbourne, the words of the apology and their actions have demonstrated they are committed to supporting the full and unconditional inclusion and acceptance of all same-sex attracted, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people in the Jewish community.
It was significant that this apology was issued alongside a discussion on anti-Semitism and racism. The JCCV have further demonstrated their integrity by acknowledging that hate from within the Jewish community is as unacceptable as hate directed toward it.
Aleph Melbourne acknowledges the involvement of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society in the formulation and passage of this apology and is grateful for their long-standing and ongoing support.
Aleph Melbourne believes this is the first apology ever from any Jewish community in relation to the mistreatment of LGBTIQ people.
The JCCV apology is attached below.
A photograph of the formal presentation of a framed copy of the apology is available below and online here: http://bit.ly/jccv-aleph-apology-photo; L to R: (JCCV reps) Anton Hermann, Doron Abramovici, Jennifer Huppert; (Aleph Melbourne reps) Michael Barnett, Shaun Miller, Colin Krycer. Photo by Gregory Storer.
Michael Barnett & Shaun Miller
For further information contact Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Motion to JCCV Plenum – April 2019
To acknowledge the 20-year anniversary of Aleph Melbourne being denied membership of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria
On the occasion of 20 years since the failed attempt by Aleph Melbourne to join the JCCV, this plenum places on record that:
Aleph Melbourne submitted a valid application for membership of the JCCV in January 1999
The Executive of the JCCV supported admission of Aleph Melbourne as a member
On 10 May 1999 the JCCV Plenum debated the motion and voted (39 votes in favour and 46 votes against) to deny the application for membership
In the course of the debate, homophobic views were expressed by some delegates which caused long-term harm to members of our LGBTIQ+ community
Accordingly, this Plenum now apologises unconditionally to all members of our community who were impacted by the rejection of the membership application and for the unacceptable homophobic views expressed during the debate.
We apologise for the deep offence and humiliation caused by the hateful words spoken in the course of the debate.
We apologise for the subsequent distress, further marginalisation and stigmatisation caused by the rejection of Aleph Melbourne’s membership application.
We now recommit ourselves to welcoming and embracing LGBTIQ+ Jews in all our work, as part of our broader commitment to social inclusion for all members of the Jewish community of Victoria.
Through our genuine commitment to equality and diversity we seek to ensure that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.
OLD wounds were scratched at the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) plenum on Monday when it failed to formally apologise for denying affiliation to gay advocacy and support group Aleph Melbourne 20 years ago.
On May 10, 1999, the JCCV plenum rejected 46-39 with three abstentions a proposal by its own executive to invite Aleph to affiliate. But 20 years on, a motion calling for today’s JCCV to apologise has been taken back to the drawing board, after it became clear the plenum would not pass it without modifications.
Sivan Barak of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) proposed the apology motion, on which the JCCV had first been approached late last year, condemning the roof body’s 1999 spurning of Aleph.
The motion described responses of some delegates at that time as “hurtful, shameful and homophobic, including remarks from some leading Melbourne rabbis”.
It proposed the JCCV “apologises to Aleph Melbourne … and to all LGBTIQ Jews for the denial of a safe space at the JCCV plenum on the day of that vote, as well as the subsequent distress, further marginalisation and stigmatisation caused by the rejection of membership of the JCCV and for the subsequent decade of inaction by the JCCV in terms of any outreach to LGBTIQ Jews”.
It also called on the JCCV to acknowledge it did not actively support LGBTIQ Jews until after a 2009 attack on an LGBTIQ youth centre in Tel Aviv.
Various views were aired, from supporting an apology to drafting a compromise deleting references to the JCCV’s “decade of inaction” and the role of the Tel Aviv attack, which some delegates said were factually incorrect, to simply acknowledging the damage caused in 1999 and belatedly inviting Aleph into the JCCV.
Some delegates spoke of the very different track record in the past decade, with the affiliation of LGBTIQ support group Keshet to the JCCV, and formation of the JCCV’s LGBTIQ reference group.
After that, the apology motion was withdrawn by Barak – and Aleph’s Michael Barnett and Shaun Miller declared that without an apology, mere acknowledgment would be pointless.
John Searle, a former JCCV president, who founded its LGBTIQ reference group, described the 1999 decision as “an absolute disgrace” and proposed a meeting to demonstrate that in 2019 “the doors here are open to everybody”.
The proposal was accepted and a meeting with Aleph and AJDS – to be spearheaded by Doron Abramovici, JCCV executive member for social inclusion and community engagement – hopes to formulate a revised motion for next month’s plenum, or in May, exactly 20 years after Aleph’s rejection.
After Monday’s plenum, JCCV president Jennifer Huppert told The AJN the session provided Aleph members and others “an opportunity to express how they feel”, and the process now underway is “a good outcome”.
The plenum was themed “A Decade of Advocacy” and guest Ro Allen, Victoria’s commissioner for gender and sexuality, detailed proposed reforms by the state government to simplify altering gender status in birth, death and marriage records, and plans to ban gay conversion therapy.
Jewish Care CEO Bill Appleby spoke about his organisation’s process towards achieving Rainbow Tick accreditation, which demonstrates LGBTIQ-inclusive practice and service delivery.
The LGBTIQ-themed plenum preceded the 25th Jewish LGBT+ World Congress, to be held in Sydney from March 21-24, and the Australian visit of Rabbi Abby Stein, an American Jewish educator, writer, speaker and activist, who attended yeshivah in the US, has a rabbinical degree, and came out three years ago as “a woman of trans experience”.
Jewish Care Victoria is proud to have walked in the 24th Annual Midsumma Pride March on Sunday 3 February.
Together with eight other Jewish community organisations, Jewish Care staff, volunteers, leaders and Board members, including Jewish Care CEO Bill Appleby and President Mike Debinski, marched under the ‘Jews of Pride’ banner.
The Midsumma Pride March is part of the Midsumma Festival, a 22-day annual celebration of LGBTI+ arts, culture, and the diverse communities that exist within the larger LGBTI+ community.
Speaking of the importance of Jewish Care walking in the Midsumma Pride March, Jewish Care employee Doron Abramovici said, “Marching under the umbrella of ‘Jews of Pride’ showed a unity like I’ve never seen before in our community. Having the CEO and President of Victoria’s largest Jewish services provider march sends a powerful message to community members who identify as LGBTI+ and should not be understated.”
“As Jewish Care’s Pride banner said, there is strength in diversity,” said Jewish Care CEO, Bill Appleby. “We know that we, as a community, are at our strongest when we celebrate our differences and stand with each other.”
“Jewish Care values inclusion for all members of our community,” added Jewish Care President Mike Debinski. “Marching alongside LGBTI+ members of both the Jewish and wider communities, as well as other communal organisations, is one way we can outwardly express our commitment to supporting LGBTI+ people.”
Jewish Care Victoria is committed to developing and implementing inclusive practices for all members of the Victorian Jewish community. In addition, to participating in the Midsumma Pride March, Jewish Care continues to work towards achieving Rainbow Tick Accreditation in 2019.
“A decade of strong advocacy for LGBTI equality and inclusion! I am very proud to have volunteered for the JCCV for a decade and served on the board for almost 4 years. We have achieved great things together! #lgbti #lgbtiinclusion #mentalhealthmatters #socialinclusion #lgbtijews Big shout out to John Searle, Anton Block, Nina Bassat, Jennifer Huppert, Original Reference Group members Julie Leder, Nathan Rose, Andrew Rajcher, Sally Goldner, Immediate part Executive Director David Marlow and the community for welcoming change.” — Doron Abramovici