Standing in solidarity with the Muslim community in Christchurch

Aleph Melbourne stands in solidarity with the Muslim community after the Christchurch shooting.

Aleph Melbourne acknowledges the unthinkable act of hate perpetrated against the Muslim community in Christchurch, New Zealand.  We offer our unconditional love and sympathy to the friends and families of those who lost their lives, and our deepest concerns and well-wishes to those injured.

Our communities have been inextricably united by crimes against our humanity, whether due to the religion we practice, our sexuality, our gender or gender identity, the colour of our skin, the language we speak, our country of birth, or the clothes we wear.

Orlando was an act of homophobia

Pittsburgh was an act of anti-Semitism.

Christchurch was an act of Islamophobia.

None of these make sense.

We must hold our governments to account.  They have used us as a political wedge to further their own agenda, creating division and fear in the broader community.

We must ensure that they collectively stand up and decry those who promote bigotry and intolerance, starting from within their own ranks.  They must also not abuse us by gaining political advantage from our pain and suffering.

Gun laws must be tightened everywhere.  Racism must be condemned.  Bigotry must be called out.

Our hearts have been broken.

Our humanity has been shattered.

Our communities have been fractured.

Please accept our hand of friendship and our love during this painful time and forever.

Historic meeting between GLBT Jews and Jewish Community Council of Victoria – Dec 7 2009

MEDIA RELEASE
GAY & LESBIAN JEWS ENGAGE IN DIALOGUE WITH THE JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF VICTORIA
December 7 2009

In an historic meeting on Thursday December 4 2009 at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre between the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) members of the Jewish community, discussions were had forging the way for increased inclusion, acceptance and visibility of GLBT Jews in the Jewish Community in Victoria.

In a letter to Aleph Melbourne, a social and support group for GLBT Jews, JCCV Executive Director Geoffrey Zygier wrote “The JCCV wants to get a better understanding of Gay Jews’ concerns” and added that “John [Searle] has made clear, under his presidency the JCCV has reaffirmed its opposition to vilification and affirmed its wish to [be] as inclusive as possible”. Zygier went on to add that “However the details of what form this might take have to be worked out; we’re still at the information-gathering stage.”

Aleph Melbourne co-ordinator Michael Barnett welcomed this opportunity for dialogue with the JCCV, particularly in light of recent incidents involving homophobic intolerance and hatred directed at GLBT Jews in Melbourne and in Israel.

Attending the meeting were gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews from a diverse range of religious and cultural backgrounds. A variety of issues were raised and discussed in a healthy and at times robust manner with the JCCV representatives. A seven-point list of suggestions (see attachment) of how the JCCV could increase the inclusion, acceptance and visibility of GLBT people in the Jewish community was presented at the meeting. In a positive step, JCCV President John Searle advised he would discuss the issues raised at the next Executive meeting of the JCCV in 2010 and report back as to how the organisation plans to approach the issue.

Whilst raising the issue of membership of the JCCV as a way for GLBT Jewish organisations to gain greater inclusion and visibility within the Jewish community, Barnett stated that this was not currently on the agenda and had not been since the JCCV rejected Aleph Melbourne’s initial membership application in 1999 due to the uncertain process by which the JCCV determines suitability of applicants.

Aleph Melbourne looks forward to further dialogue between the JCCV and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members of the Jewish community in 2010 and waits for homophobic intolerance in the community and barriers to equality, inclusion, acceptance and visibility to be identified and eliminated.


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

20091203 Suggestions to JCCV for increased GLBT inclusion

 

20091117 Daniel Baker response_to_JCCV_invitation for discussion re GLBT inclusion

Rabbi Is Out Of Line & Out Of Touch With The Community | JCCV

Rabbi Is Out Of Line & Out Of Touch With The Community

16 February 2015

Jewish Community Council of VictoriaMuch of the evidence presented at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse over the past two weeks has been seriously disturbing, appalling and distressing. One of the lows was the statement made by Rabbi Zvi Telsner, a senior rabbi in the Yeshivah community, that homosexuals can be ‘cured’.

This is repulsive, ignorant and insulting, demonstrating a serious departure from the views of the mainstream Jewish community.

Rabbi Telsner also linked paedophilia and homosexuality in his testimony. Any such linking is disturbing and indeed toxic. Those comments are poisonous to people of diverse sexual preference, their families and friends.

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) signed up to the ‘No To Homophobia’ campaign in 2013, the first and possibly only faith community to do so and we urged our affiliates to do likewise.  26 Jewish community organisations have also signed up to the campaign, including the Australian Union of Jewish students (AUJS), Progressive Judaism Victoria, Jewish Care, Jewish Aid, the Jewish Holocaust Centre and the Jewish Museum. Obviously Rabbi Telsner, whose organisation is not affiliated to JCCV, did not sign up.

View Related Article in “Star Observer”

JCCV, ECAJ & NSW JBD respond to homophobic comment on J-Wire Mardi Gras story

J-Wire posted a story “Mardi Gras rocks” about Sydney’s GLBTIQ group Dayenu‘s participation in the Mardi Gras Parade.  The following comment by Gil Solomon was approved by the J-Wire editor:

I don’t see a “Sydney Catholic GLBT Group” float (or any other denomination for that matter) so why do Jews have to overtly see the need to show to the world that they are both gay and Jewish?

The Jewish world has enough problems to contend with and I, being politically incorrect, categorically state I couldn’t care less what you people do behind closed doors but why do you see the need to hit us in the face that you’re a bunch of Jews. Go join some other float, as it nauseates me to think that you lot seem to think the Jewish community as a whole supports your blatant display of your sexual orientation.

I repeat, I couldn’t care less what you people do, but I am offended by the fact that you give your sexual preference a Jewish dimension.

Aleph Melbourne called for the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and prominent anti-homophobia advocate, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, to respond to this homophobic message:

Jo Silver from the JCCV posted this comment in response:

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is proud to host a GLBTI Reference Group and support the No to Homophobia Campaign.

It’s wonderful to see that people feel ‘safe’ enough to openly participate in the Mardi Gras and express their unique Jewish identity as well. Well done!

The Reference Group is focused on raising awareness in our community that hurtful comments and nasty jibes can cause depression, anxiety and other well being issues for our GLBTI members. We are all people with feelings and emotions and we all have the right to open our door every day and face the world without feeling harassed.

A futher tweet from Aleph Melbourne reiterated the request for the ECAJ and NSW JBD to speak out:

ECAJ advised on Twitter that their response had been posted as a comment on J-Wire by their Public Affairs Director Alex Ryvchin:

The comment appeared on J-Wire accordingly:

Dear Gil

If members of the Jewish community wish to participate in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, that is their right. If they wish to do so while openly identifying as Jews, that too is their right. Your comment that “[their] blatant displays of sexual orientation” should “remain behind closed doors” is an attack on their human dignity. It was not so long ago that Jews were being told that their ‘blatant displays’ of religious and national identity should ‘remain behind closed doors’. As neither you nor those you criticise act in any representative capacity, you and they are free to express yourselves as you wish. Australia as a nation has committed itself to mutual respect for the human dignity of all members of the community, despite any strongly held differences; recognition that disagreement is possible in ways that do not vilify other persons or their views; and avoidance of 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. These are values that benefit all of us.”

– Alex Ryvchin

Finally, another call for the NSW JBD to respond:

Their reply, leaving ample room for improvement, came only by Twitter:

It’s good to see these three organisations speaking out, to varying degrees, against homophobia and intolerance of homosexuality.  They must continue to set a strong and positive example, to the entire Jewish community and to other faith communities, that all discrimination and intolerance is unacceptable.

Finally, take a few minutes to read the comment stream on the J-Wire story.  The author of the contentious post unconvincingly attempted to clarify/justify his initial message in follow-up comments.  Make of it what you will.

Statement on Homophobia | Union for Progressive Judaism

[ Original statement ]

RELIGIOUS ACTION & ADVOCACY CENTRE

STATEMENT ON HOMOPHOBIA

The 2014 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade celebrates the 36th anniversary of the continuing struggle for human rights and equality waged by, and for, LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) citizens in Australia, including those in the Jewish and broader community.

It should also provide a strong reminder to us all that there are still many places in the world where people are not only denied these basic rights but are being persecuted because of their sexual orientation.

The Jewish people’s adoption of the mantra “Never again” following the Shoah was to remind society of the devastating destruction caused by the evil forces of the Nazi regime against not only the Jewish people but against many other sections of society, including homosexual men who were forced to wear a pink triangle.

Beyond that, “Never again” was a determined call to ensure that such acts of hatred would not be repeated or condoned by the civilized world, and that Jews would take all possible action to prevent its recurrence.

In recent years there have been unfathomable yet ghastly attacks on the freedoms of LGTBI citizens in countries such as Uganda, Russia and India, including the recent adoption of harsh homophobic laws.

The consequences of this persecution are justifiably likened to the situation that arose during the Nazi era in Europe, and it, therefore, behooves Jewish people around the world to call on their communal and national leaders to speak out and take action against these nations.

As we celebrate the many achievements of the gay and lesbian movement in Australia in making our society more fair and open, the Union for Progressive Judaism calls on our community to use the freedom that we enjoy to condemn all who perpetuate discrimination and persecution based on ignorance.

 

Incorporated in Victoria Reg. No. A0042291F, ABN No. 96 213 500 277
Email: upj@upj.org.au Website: www.upj.org.au
28 Chatswood Avenue, Chatswood, NSW 2067
Tel: (612) 9413 1282
Affiliated to World Union for Progressive Judaism

Jewish community group makes landmark anti-homophobia message | Star Observer

Jewish community group makes landmark anti-homophobia message


Benjamin Riley Benjamin Riley — February 27, 2014
David Marlow JCCV

A RECENT statement from a leading Melbourne-based Jewish group that said homophobia was unacceptable has been hailed as a turning point for the Victorian Jewish community’s relationship with its LGBTI members.

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has been ramping up its LGBTI-related activities over the past few years, including signing up to the No To Homophobia campaign and convincing over 25 of its member organisations in the Jewish community to do the same. Previous public statements by the JCCV have linked prejudice to negative mental heath outcomes for LGBTI people and said it was “okay to be gay”.

Executive director David Marlow responded to calls by the co-convenor of LGBTI Jewish organisation Aleph Melbourne Michael Barnett to clarify the JCCV’s position on homophobia.

“Homophobia, lack of acceptance and intolerance of homosexuality causes serious stress, anxiety and serious mental health issues and (is) not acceptable. All people should be welcomed and respected as valuable members of society and the community,” Marlow said.

Barnett told the Star Observer the statement is more significant than other LGBTI-related comments by the JCCV, arguing that calling homophobia “unacceptable” allowed the community to hold the council and its member organisations to account.

The JCCV represents a broad cross-section of Victoria’s Jewish community, including many Orthodox Jewish organisations with prevalent homophobic views.

Barnett believed such an explicit stand against homophobia was significant as the JCCV represented a broad Jewish community.

Speaking to the Star Observer Marlow agreed, and also believed the JCCV was one of the first representative organisations from any major religion in Australia to take a stand against homophobia.

Marlow said while the anti-homophobia initiatives have enjoyed broad support from JCCV members, there was some resistance.

“There have been some on the more Orthodox side who have not been as welcoming but there are certainly Orthodox synagogues and some Orthodox rabbis who are very welcoming, and some who are not,” Marlow explained.

“You can have your position from a religious standpoint, but from the point of view of how you deal with people and how you accept people and how you treat people — that’s the angle we’re trying to take.”

Marlow didn’t disagree with Barnett’s claim the wording of his most recent statement was significant, but said the JCCV was committed to education as a way to hold some member organisations to account for harmful homophobic views.

“We have a diversity of views on a range of issues from all our affiliate members… If we kicked an organisation out because we disagree with them, that doesn’t change them or fix anything,” he said.

Marlow said he expected the gradual shift in social attitudes around LGBTI people would continue to be reflected in the views of the JCCV’s member organisations.

Mount Scopus continues to ignore the needs of its LGBTQ students

Posted on Facebook by Daniel Baker on August 20, 2013 and reproduced with permission:

Mount Scopus continues to ignore the needs of its LGBTQ students. Here is my most recent letter to the Principal and the head of the Board:

Dear Rabbi Kennard and Ms Kennett,

Thank you for your email dated August 12.

I must say that I am disappointed with your response. My emails dated 24 June and 25 July were responses to and questions on Rabbi Kennard’s letter dated 18 February, and it seems disingenuous to suggest that that letter could somehow provide the answers to the very comments and questions it raised. I have explained in a number of emails why Rabbi Kennard’s response was insufficient and, in some cases, erroneous – for instance, in its comparison of homosexuality to Shabbat violation. The school’s refusal to respond to these concerns raises serious questions about its commitment to equality and student well-being.

Additionally, and beyond the immediate issue of same-sex attracted students, I must say that your response raises concerns about the way the School treats concerned stake-holders. When I began calling on Mount Scopus to join the SSCV, and when my campaign was gaining significant public attention, Rabbi Kennard urged me to keep this matter private. He promised a constructive and meaningful dialogue in the interests of protecting the safety and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer students. While I appreciated his letter dated 18 February, I do not think that a single letter followed by continued refusals to engage further constitutes real dialogue. To the contrary, it seems to reflect a lack of good faith on the part of the Principal.

As I have acknowledged on numerous occasions, it is of course the prerogative of the Principal and the Board to determine the school’s direction. What I seek is not an immediate policy change along the lines I have suggested, but a considered response to the 5 key points I raised in my email of 25 July. Those points are directly raised by Rabbi Kennard’s letter of 18 February, and the School’s claim to care about its same-sex attracted students cannot be taken seriously until they have been addressed.

I note that according to your email the correspondence between me and Rabbi Kennard was addressed at a recent meeting of the Board. Are you willing to make the notes of this meeting available to the public?

I look forward to your response.


Comment by Jonathan Barnett on letter by Daniel Baker