‘We are an unstoppable force of unity’ | AJN


‘We are an unstoppable force of unity’

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.

February 1, 2024, 9:00 am

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.

More info: jewsofpride.org.au

Josh Burns MP – Constituency Statement: Dr David Zyngier


Federation Chamber
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.



Australian Jewish youth groups make a home for non-binary young people | +61J

Australian Jewish youth groups make a home for non-binary young people

By Ruby Kraner-Tucci

September 1, 2023

From co-ed camp rooms to degendered Hebrew, non-binary inclusion is becoming a high priority for some Jewish youth movements. RUBY KRANER-TUCCI reports.

Attending a youth movement is a rite of passage for many Jewish Australians. Finding a like-minded tribe, connecting to community and creating memories that last a lifetime – youth movements are often bonding experiences.

For those who identify as non-binary, finding safe and welcoming spaces to explore one’s identity is particularly important. Thankfully for them, Jewish youth movements in Australia are responding in spades, prioritising inclusion in all areas of programming, policy and leadership.

Federal Chairperson of Netzer Australia Avishai Conyer, 21, believes his generation is leading the way. Jewish youth movements “should serve as an example to the rest of the community on inclusivity”, he said.

“Youth movements are such special places for young Jews to build their identity, so it is our role to create safe spaces for kids to be themselves, feel included and grow to become active and passionate values-driven members of our community,” Conyer told Plus61J Media.

For Netzer Australia, this comes in the form of queer programs including LGBTIQ+ sex education; asking participants and leaders to introduce themselves using their preferred pronouns; and co-ed camp bunks for those in year 11 and above.

“As we do not split chanichimot [campers] by gender in any other aspects of our programming, it no longer made sense to do so with rooming arrangements for our older participants,” Conyer said.

“[We] will support kids below that age with different rooming preferences to find an arrangement that everybody is comfortable with.

“We have found that this leads to fewer social splits based on gender, promotes dignity and increases respect between kids of different genders, and supports non-binary participants to feel more included in Netzer spaces.”

“I’ve never felt at odds between my Jewish identity and my non-binary identity at Netzer. If anything, it’s celebrated.”Theo Boltman

Theo Boltman, 17, has been attending Netzer since grade five and identifies as non-binary. They say the offering of co-ed bunks for older participants “makes it easier” – an experience that differs from other circles of their life.

“When I go on school camps, I have to send a list of girls’ [names] I’m comfortable sharing a room with, and then the school has to get approval from those girls’ parents,” Boltman said.

“While at Netzer, it’s never an issue. I never have to worry about being uncomfortable because I know everyone is in the same boat, it’s been amazing.”

Raffy Blay is personally aware of the impact of inclusive leadership in Jewish youth groups. Blay started attending Hashomer Hatzair – affectionately termed Hashy – at 13 years old and “instantly found connection and purpose”.

Almost a decade later, Blay is now its Central Coordinator and identifies as non-binary, helping to represent gender diversity in Hashy’s upper echelons.

“[It is] a huge privilege to be the leader of the movement and non-binary, and to take up space in the community holding this identity,” Blay said.

Like Netzer, Hashy runs a number of initiatives to promote inclusivity, from using gender neutral Hebrew suffixes to permitting co-ed rooms on camps.

While on the whole, the youth group has experienced little pushback about its welcoming agenda from the broader Jewish community, Blay identified some negative engagement on social media when endorsing Hashy’s annual Queer Night event. Thankfully, Blay said “nothing eventuated from it”.

“Letting kids be kids and not emphasising their gender as a point of difference works to build respectful relationships,” they added.

“The years spent in a youth movement are incredibly formative and important, and everyone should have the opportunity to have that experience.”

The visibility of non-binary leaders resonates with Boltman, who says embedding inclusion from the top down has helped to form an “incredibly supportive” environment for participants at Netzer.

“The whole point of Jewish youth groups is that it’s the space where Jewish people can find each other in a sea of, for lack of a better word, goys – a sea of people who aren’t like you,” Boltman said.

“It can be so hard, especially for Jewish kids going to public schools, to find [other] Jewish kids in the first place and for them to be non-binary too. It’s so important that their identities be prioritised.

“I’ve never felt at odds between my Jewish identity and my non-binary identity at Netzer. If anything, it’s celebrated.”

While co-ed bunkrooms have been accepted as a standard offering by some Australian youth groups, the US scene has been slower to embrace them. Only a handful of Jewish camps surveyed in the US have non-gendered bunk rooms as an option, let alone a standard offering.

Hashy campers (supplied)

Of 153 Jewish overnight camps surveyed recently in the US, 90 say they welcome transgender and nonbinary campers. Most allow them to choose the bunk that best fits them but don’t offer a non-gendered option.

Another way inclusion is expressed is through changes is language, an issue that is even more potent in the heavily gendered Hebrew language than in English.

Netzer’s global parent movement, Netzer Olami, recently implemented a gender-inclusive form of Hebrew through an Israeli-led initiative that aims to de-gender language.

Conyer uses the mixed gender term chanichimot, a blend of chanichim (male campers or student) and chanichot (female), where previous generations would have followed the language convention of subsuming females under male language and ignoring those who didn’t fit.

But when it comes to prioritising other forms of inclusion, such as disability, youth groups are still struggling. 

Netzer has policies around choosing physically accessible campsites and spaces for activities, but Conyer says its volunteers lack much-needed practice and understanding.

“While disability inclusion is very important to us, our young volunteers do not have much experience working with kids with disabilities,” he said.

“We try to provide as much training as possible and would like our programming to be accessible to all, [but] our lack of professional experience means there are some people we do not yet know how to fully include, despite our best efforts.”

Blay said many members of Hashy have been active in vocalising their desire to increase disability inclusion by making its building more wheelchair accessible and hiring Auslan interpreters for events, in addition to the camp sensory room and fidget toys already on offer.

“No one should miss out on Hashy if we can help it. We work hard to find ways to include everyone in our activities and accept everyone for who they are.” 

Photo: Hashy campers with a rainbow version of the youth group flag (supplied)

“Jews of Pride” at Midsumma Pride March 2019

The award-winning “Jews of Pride” contingent returned to dominate Pride March 2019 with an amazing sound system and a dynamic presence.

Midsumma Pride March was held on Sunday February 3 2019.  With a maximum forecast of 40 degrees expected to hit by 2pm, the temperature had reached the mid-30s at the start time of 11am.

2018 saw “Jews of Pride” awarded the “Most Fabulous” group and this year we were all that and more.  A record number of participants braved the heat to demonstrate support for same-sex attracted, trans and gender-diverse, and intersex people and families in the Jewish community.

There were around 100 participants from a diverse range of community organisations including an inaugural appearance from Jewish Care, along with Pride March stalwarts Hashomer Hatzair, Habonim Dror, Netzer, SKIF, Temple Beth Israel, Keshet, Aleph Melbourne and the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria.

A sound truck supplied by Aleph Melbourne’s Colin Krycer announced the contingent to the cheering onlookers as it pumped out upbeat Jewish and Israeli favourites along the length of the parade route.

All Jewish organisations (and community members) are invited to join us in 2020.  Send a message via our contact page indicating your interest.

Watch and hear the “Jews of Pride” contingent power down Fitzroy Street:

Quick glimpse at 21 second mark:

Photos of the “Jews of Pride” contingent on Facebook:

The "Jews of Pride" contingent had around 100 members from a diverse range of community organisations including an…

Posted by Michael Barnett on Monday, February 4, 2019

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).

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.

Biggest ever Jewish contingent at Pride March 2016

Melbourne’s Jewish Community came out in force on Sunday January 31 2016 to participate in the annual Pride March in St Kilda.  The largest contingent to date, this year saw community stalwarts Aleph Melbourne and the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria joined by a strong presence from youth groups Habonim Dror, SKIF, Netzer and Hashomer Hatzair.  Members of AUJS and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria also marched in solidarity.

From 20160131 Pride March

Pride March celebrates the rich diversity of Melbourne’s LGBTIQ community.  Aleph Melbourne has participated every year since 1997.  The significant presence of Jewish youth groups in Pride March over the past three years shows that increasingly, young people are passionate about equality, inclusion, respect and social justice.