Aleph Melbourne commends Caulfield Hebrew Congregation on significant LGBTIQ+ diversity reform
July 12 2020
Aleph Melbourne commends the board of Caulfield Hebrew Congregation (CHC) for taking an unequivocal stance against all intolerance of LGBTIQ+ people, and accepts a sincere apology from the board for recent comments made on social media by a CHC Vice President.*
By committing to undertake diversity training, and by accepting that intolerance and vilification directed at LGBTIQ+ people is unacceptable, the CHC board sends a strong message to trans and gender diverse, same-sex attracted, and intersex people in the Jewish community that they are valued, important and worthy.
We acknowledge CHC Rabbi Ralph Genende for his decade-plus leadership in being a proponent for the acceptance of LGBTIQ+ people.
Now with Caulfield Hebrew Congregation sending a clear message that Orthodox Judaism can embrace LGBTIQ+ diversity, Aleph Melbourne calls on all Orthodox synagogues in Melbourne and across Australia to stand in solidarity on this important stance.
Michael Barnett (pronouns: he/him/his)
May 21 2020
Response to attack on Cranbourne Golf Club
Aleph Melbourne is disturbed by the news of a pointless and senseless act of cowardly vandalism at Melbourne’s Cranbourne Golf Club.
The antisemitic and homophobic graffiti demonstrates profound immaturity and insensitivity by the perperator/s.
As a support group for LGBTIQ+ Jews we feel the pain doubly. We are targeted for being Jewish. We are targeted for our sexual orientation.
What makes this type of vandalism especially pernicious is that it was laced with hate. It wasn’t an ordinary case of self-expression on a fence or wall, but rather, a calculated and targeted act of intolerance designed to hurt people.
We hope that the perpetrator/s are brought to justice. More than that, we hope that they come to understand the nature of their crime and make amends for their actions.
Michael Barnett (pronouns: he/him/his)
Co-convenor – Aleph Melbourne
Radio station J-AIR has responded to our April 2 article Jewish broadcaster J-AIR airs interview stating “the pandemic is an exact designer drug … that will remove … problems … in the form of homosexuality and gays” by issuing the following apology on the front page of their web site:
J-AIR unreservedly apologises for broadcasting and podcasting comments that vilified the gay community in one of its regular programs.
The comments were made by Rabbi Mendel Kessin on the Tamar Yonah Show on Monday, 30 March 2020. Yonah hosts her own show on J-AIR’s sister station in Israel, Israel News Talk Radio (INTR), and Rabbi Kessin’s comment were originally aired on 24 March on the INTR program The Mystical Meaning of the Coronavirus with Rabbi Mendel Kessin. They were re-broadcast on J-AIR on 30 March.
J-AIR president George Banky said Rabbi Kessin’s views were totally unacceptable.
“J-AIR has initiated its complaints procedure in line with ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) and CBAA (Community Broadcasting Association of Australia) requirements,” Dr Banky said.
“We have taken the podcast off line, and the complaints’ committee has started to review the show’s contents. The outcome of this process will be announced within 30 days, if not sooner. J-AIR is seeking an explanation from Tamar Yonah.
“J-AIR is very aware of its role as a community broadcaster and strictly adheres to the laws of this country, particularly the ones referring to broadcasting as mandated by ACMA.
Aleph Melbourne acknowledge that J-AIR are taking this matter seriously and responding appropriately, and look forward to seeing what further steps are put in place to ensure they do not broadcast content that vilifies LGBTIQ+ people again.
[PinkNews] Jewish radio station apologises for claims that coronavirus is a ‘designer drug’ to eradicate gays before Messiah comes
[OUTinPerth] Melbourne’s Jewish radio station apologises for homophobic broadcast
Jewish radio station J-AIR, dedicated to combating hate, broadcasts an interview that vilifies gay men.
The description of this episode of the Tamar Yonah Show states (in part):
Internationally known lecturer on current events and the Bible, Rabbi Mendel Kessin, joins Tamar Yonah and talks about the meaning behind this worldwide pandemic, what we are supposed to learn, and DO, in order to merit seeing the coming of the Messiah. He talks about the fear of death, atonement, suffering, and the world-wide economic collapse, and tells us how we can protect ourselves, as we enter into the Messianic era.
Aleph Melbourne has transcribed Rabbi Kessin’s interview commentary from time point 12:46 to time point 14:06:
And basically he’s 98% finished, that’s how close we are to the redemption. Therefore what god wants to do is bring the redemption. However, there are certain problems that must be addressed by god in order for the redemption to actually happen. And what we begin to see is that the pandemic is an exact designer drug, if you want to use that expression, that will remove these problems. Ah, in other words the plague itself is a vehicle, is an instrument, to accelerate the messianic process by removing these major problems. What are they? You see. So therefore what we see is the following. The first major problem is that man has corrupted his nature. There is a tremendous amount of, ah, what’s called immorality in the world today. It’s widespread. There’s, in Hebrew it’s called “prichus” (פְּרִיצוּת). We want, we could say it’s also in the form of homosexuality, and gays and so on and so forth, where all of a sudden the gender differentiation is, is tremendously blurred. So that is an incredible corruption of man’s nature.
Listen to the relevant audio here:
Rabbi Kessin is saying that his god is using the coronavirus pandemic to bring on the coming of the messiah by cleansing society of immorality caused in part by the scourge of homosexual sex between gay men.
This amounts to hate speech that vilifies gay (and also bisexual) men. It squarely lays blame for the coronavirus pandemic at the feet of sexually active gay men.
Broadcasting this language could be problematic for J-AIR as it may fall foul of at least the narrowcasting Codes of Practice, which states:
1.3 Narrowcasters will not broadcast programs which are likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against or vilify any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preference, religion, age, colour, physical or mental disability, transgender status or HIV/AIDS status…
Significantly for J-AIR, who are currently seeking a community broadcasting licence, this shocking lapse of editorial judgement reflects terribly on the integrity and good character of the station.
In Parliament on March 2 2020, Tim Wilson MP described J-AIR as “an outstanding broadcasting service …” that “… has begun working closely with the Community Security Group (CSG) to combat the rise of anti-Semitism and ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community in Victoria…”.
It’s entirely disappointing to see a radio station so dedicated to being both an outstanding broadcasting service and wanting to combat hate, find itself in a position where it is fuelling the fires of hate.
Next time J-AIR supporter Tim Wilson is mid-shtup he might want to take a moment to reflect on how he is, according to Rabbi Kessin, contributing to the kind of immorality that is causing the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time he might also want to reflect on how his praise for an “outstanding broadcasting service” dedicated to combating hate accurately describes a radio station that allows vilification of gay men like himself to go to air.
J-AIR must offer an unqualified and sincere apology, both on air and in writing, for this grave mistake and also provide air time for an in-depth interview covering the harms of intolerance of LGBTIQ+ people.
More importantly, while it still has a licence, J-AIR must comply with broadcasting standards, set the highest standard, and never again broadcast hate speech.
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 antisemitism.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.