MEDIA RELEASE: Aleph Melbourne receives historic 20 year apology from Jewish Community Council of Victoria

On April 1 2019 the Jewish Community Council of Victoria delivered an historic 20-year apology to Aleph Melbourne for past injustices.

MEDIA RELEASE
Aleph Melbourne receives historic 20 year apology
from Jewish Community Council of Victoria
April 2 2019

Last night the Jewish Community Council of Victoria issued an unconditional apology to Aleph Melbourne for denying it membership of their council in May 1999, and for hurt arising out of the debate that transpired.

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
ALEPH MELBOURNE

ENDS

For further information contact Michael Barnett  on 0417-595-541 or michael@aleph.org.au


 

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.


 

20190401 JCCV present historic apology to Aleph Melbourne
L to R: (JCCV reps) Anton Hermann, Doron Abramovici, Jennifer Huppert; (Aleph Melbourne reps) Michael Barnett, Shaun Miller, Colin Krycer.  Photo by Gregory Storer.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word | Australian Jewish News

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

ajn-20190308 Michael Barnett and Shaun Miller
Michael Barnett (left) and Shaun Miller.

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”.

PETER KOHN


ajn-20190308 Sorry Seems to be the hardest word

Jewish Care Victoria and Jewish Community Council of Victoria: Standing against Conversion Therapy

 

STANDING AGAINST CONVERSION THERAPY
A unique piece of research from La Trobe University, in conjunction with the Human Rights Law Centre and Gay & Lesbian Health Victoria, has highlighted the impact and harms of LGBT conversion therapy.

At its core, conversion therapy asserts that individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are ‘sexually broken’ or ‘psychologically damaged’ and therefore in need of redirection and reorientation to repair their sexual orientation or gender identity. To achieve this purported aim, conversion therapy imposes a range of practices such as electroconvulsive therapy, exorcism, hypnotherapy, intensive group prayer and other psychological strategies. The impacts according to those who have experienced such therapies include severe trauma, stress and often long-term psychological damage.

Of concern is the report’s finding that these practices continue today in a broad range of faith communities.

Jewish Care and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria firmly condemn the principles and assumptions that underlie the practices of conversion therapy, and we are proud to acknowledge and celebrate diversity and hold strong to the belief that it is a human right for all individuals, including those who identify as LGBTIQ+, to live free from prejudice, harm, harassment or abuse.

 

Jewish Care Victoria and JCCV stand against LGBT Conversion Therapy | J-Wire

A unique piece of research from Melbourne’s La Trobe University, in conjunction with the Human Rights Law Centre and Gay & Lesbian Health Victoria, has highlighted the impact and harms of LGBT conversion therapy.

The Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT conversion therapy report explores the history of LGBT conversion therapy in Australia through the lens of 15 LGBT individuals with lived experience, with a focus on the use of conversion therapy in faith-based communities including the Jewish community.

At its core, conversion therapy asserts that individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are ‘sexually broken’ or ‘psychologically damaged’ and therefore in need of redirection and reorientation to repair their sexual orientation or gender identity. To achieve this purported aim, conversion therapy imposes a range of practices such as electroconvulsive therapy, exorcism, hypnotherapy, intensive group prayer and other psychological strategies. The impacts according to those who have experienced such therapies include severe trauma, stress and often long-term psychological damage.

Of concern is the report’s finding that these practices continue today in a broad range of faith communities.

Jewish Care and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) firmly condemn the principles and assumptions that underlie the practices of conversion therapy, and we are proud to acknowledge and celebrate diversity and hold strong to the belief that it is a human right for all individuals, including those who identify as LGBTIQ+, to live free from prejudice, harm, harassment or abuse.

“It is a dark day to think that individuals are still not accepted for who they are and how they identify,” says CEO Bill Appleby. “Conversion therapy is a violation of the principles of social justice and human rights, and Jewish Care condemns such practices as archaic and harmful. They should not be tolerated.”

The value of inclusion or hachlala underpins the work of Jewish Care and is at the heart of all service delivery. “If we are truly to embrace diversity and work together for a just and equitable society, we need to stand up for those who are marginalised in our community. For an individual to feel forced to choose between their sexuality or gender identity and their religious community is extraordinarily painful. It is for this reason that I felt compelled to take a stand on this important issue,” said Mr Appleby.

JCCV President Jennifer Huppert said, “We must ensure that our community is inclusive for all community members and that our community organisations maintain inclusive practices and procedures to ensure LGBTI individuals and their families feel welcome, respected and valued.”

In addition to other activities to ensure the inclusion of LGBTI community members, Jewish Care is currently working to achieve Rainbow Tick accreditation.

For further information on the Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT conversion therapy report, visit https://www.latrobe.edu.au/news/articles/2018/release/report-on-lgbt-conversion-therapy-harms

JCCV Statement on Same Sex Marriage Plebiscite Result

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is delighted that the same sex marriage plebiscite is now completed and that the people of Australia have shown that they are clearly in support of equality. We hope that Parliament moves quickly to pass legislation that reflects the outcome of the plebiscite and the spirit of the message inherent within in it – support for equal rights, empathy and respect. We expect that religious freedoms will be protected, and equally that current protections against discrimination and intolerance are not watered down.

President of the JCCV, Jennifer Huppert stated, “We are concerned that the LGBTIQ members of our community and their families may face mental health concerns over the coming weeks, as the proposed same sex marriage Bills are debated. We again call for all debate to be respectful, and that anyone with or seeing others facing mental health challenges seek expert advice or support, such as through the LGBTI Switchboard, Beyond Blue, Headspace or Jewish Care Victoria. Service options and contact details can be found in the JCCV LGBTI Service Directory.”

Best regards,

David Marlow
Executive Director | Jewish Community Council of Victoria

JCCV backs same sex marriage | AJN

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria has passed a motion in support of same-sex marriage.

JCCV backs same sex marriage

October 4, 2017

THE Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has voted to support same-sex marriage and called on the Federal Government to eliminate discrimination against same-sex couples.

The resolution passed on Monday night “notes that the question before Australia at the upcoming postal survey is one relating to civil, not religious, marriage”, “supports same sex marriage under civil law as part of its commitment to equal rights and respect for all people and the elimination of discrimination in all its forms” and “urges all participants in the public debate regarding same sex marriage to engage with respect and tolerance, and without personal rancour”.

It also resolved to “call on the Federal Government to support the elimination of discrimination against same sex couples under Australia’s civil law by extending legal recognition to marriages between same sex couples who choose to marry”,”to support equal treatment under Australian law to same sex couples who choose to marry” and “to call on its members and the wider community to take part in the postal survey and help ensure that the basic right to marriage is afforded to all Australians regardless of their gender or sexuality in order to create a modern, fair and just society”.

At the organisation’s monthly plenumt, 41 people representing 25 affiliates voted in favour of the motion, with four abstentions.

Fourteen people spoke in favour of the motion proposed by the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Victoria) and seconded by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, while two people spoke against the JCCV passing a motion on same-sex marriage, but not against same-sex marriage itself.

“JCCV has been working very hard in the area of inclusion for Jewish members of the community who identify at LGBTI for a number of years,” the body’s president Jennifer Huppert said.

“This is one further step and relates to same sex civil marriage and the view of the JCCV, and the plenum, is that this is a human rights issue and consistent with our commitment to human right and equality.”

Huppert said she is personally in favour of same-sex marriage and the motion sent a clear message of equality.,

“There were some people who said they didn’t think that it was an appropriate matter to be dealt with by the plenum, but the debate was very respectful and positive.”

NCJWA Victoria president Miriam Bass hailed the overwhelming support for the motion as “really gratifying”.

“This is about doing what is right because we have a duty to all out discrimination when we see it,” Bass said.

“This is what we felt we had to do to join with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, who recently passed a similar motion, and state what is right.

Bass said that NCJWA made its own statement last month and the response was overwhelming.

“We had something like 57 good comments and only one negative, and that was from someone that wasn’t a member of NCJWA.

“I think the way it was done at the JCCV was good because it came from the community, not the JCCV executive.”

LGBTI advocacy and support group Aleph Melbourne congratulated the JCCV on passing the resolution.

“That the motion was voted on without opposition, by a significantly larger than normal number of delegates, speaks volumes to the importance equality means to the Jewish community,” the organisation said in a statement.

“By supporting marriage equality the JCCV sends a message to all Victorian Jews, and the wider community, that no matter a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status, their relationships are valued equally and should be afforded equal dignity.”

For further coverage, see this week’s AJN.

JOSHUA LEVI

JCCV Media Statement – Same Sex Civil Marriage

MEDIA RELEASE: Jewish Community Council of Victoria declares support for same-sex civil marriage.

JCCV Plenum Marriage Equality vote - Oct 2 2017

Same Sex Civil Marriage
03 October 2017

The members of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) voted overwhelmingly in support of same sex civil marriage at their Plenum last night.  The National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Victoria) moved the motion below, which was seconded by AUJS (the Australasian Union of Jewish Students).  The motion was strongly supported with 41 votes in favour and 4 abstentions.

The motion was consistent with the recent resolution of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

JCCV President Jennifer Huppert stated, “The debate at the Plenum was respectful and positive, with a clear message sent in support of equality and inclusion, and against discrimination.  Speakers recognised that this was a civil matter and a human rights issue, and not a religious issue.  They were careful to reiterate JCCV’s commitment to religious freedom and remained respectful of those with an alternate view.”

The resolution:

“This meeting of the Plenum of the JCCV:

NOTES that the question before Australia at the upcoming postal survey is one relating to civil, not religious, marriage

SUPPORTS same sex marriage under civil law as part of its commitment to equal rights and respect for all people and the elimination of discrimination in all its forms.

URGES all participants in the public debate regarding same sex marriage to engage with respect and tolerance, and without personal rancour.

And resolves

1.              To call on the Federal Government to support the elimination of discrimination against same sex couples under Australia’s civil law by extending legal recognition to marriages between same sex couples who choose to marry;

2.              To support equal treatment under Australian law to same sex couples who choose to marry; and

3.              To call on its members and the wider community to take part in the postal survey and help ensure that the basic right to marriage is afforded to all Australians regardless of their gender or sexuality in order to create a modern, fair and just society.”


Listen to a 1:25 vignette of the 45 minute meeting:

JCCV working to improve inclusion and reduce mental health tragedies for our LGBTI community members

[Note: this Mental Health Forum was convened as an emergency response to the ABS Postal Survey on Same-Sex Marriage]

JCCV working to improve inclusion and reduce mental health tragedies for our LGBTI community members

 

Last night, about 40 community members, organizational leaders, mental health experts and service providers, including at least seven Orthodox Rabbis, attended a very informative and moving Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) LGBTI Mental Health Forum.

The Forum heard from speakers and panelists from SANE Australia, Headspace, Jewish Care Victoria, Keshet Australia, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria and Hatzolah. Community members and professionals also shared relevant anecdotes and personal stories.

JCCV President, Jennifer Huppert stated, “It is most important at this time while the community is enduring a divisive and emotionally damaging same sex marriage debate, that we focus on respect, inclusion and avoiding creative havoc with the mental health of vulnerable members of our community, in particular our LGBTI youth.”

Apart from sharing the terrible statistics for mental health problems and suicide rates for the LGBTI community, and especially our youth, speakers described many of the problems faced:

  • Lack of support
  • Discrimination
  • Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia
  • Isolation and alienation
  • Exclusion
  • Bullying
  • Public abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Loss of family and community connections

Which all can lead to self-harm, depression, and worse.

Young LGBTI youth face a FIVE times higher risk of suicide compared to non-LGBTI youth.

Rabbi Daniel Rabin, President of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria spoke about inclusion and the need for Rabbis and other community leaders to be welcoming. 

Rabbi Rabin stated, “We are all members of the community, like letters in a Torah scroll. If one is missing, the whole is invalidated.”

“As one of my LGBTI congregants with young children said to me, ‘What make me comfortable to attend the Synagogue and its activities is because I don’t feel judged when I participate”

Speakers spoke about the importance of family and community support, and issues of coming out.

Medical practitioner and mental health advocate Dr Dov Degen stated, “I hope for a future where we won’t have to come out as gay or straight.  We will just be able to say, “I am me”, and that will be enough.”

Orthodox Psychologist Zipporah Oliver OAM aligned the discussion with Orthodox Jewish values and said that we should remember to focus on:
– Saving a life and minimizing harm
– Loving a fellow Jew
– Chessed – Kindness

The panel of speakers highlighted steps that families and community leaders needed to take to improve mental health outcomes and prevent serious damage, included:
– Be welcoming:
– Accept difference
– Support the vulnerable and those struggling
– Refer to appropriate service providers
– Don’t be judgemental
– Provide an inclusive environment
– Must name and address mental health problems
– Must have the conversations
– Must be careful in your language and display understanding and empathy.

JCCV Mental Health Forum - Sep 25 2017
L-R: Marilyn Kraner (Jewish Care), Kirsten Cleland (Headspace), Dr Dov Degen (medical practitioner and mental health advocate), Jack Heath (CEO SANE Australia), Jennifer Huppert (JCCV President)

JCCV Statement on Moshe Feiglin Visit

JCCV Statement on Moshe Feiglin Visit

12 October 2015

Jennifer Huppert, President of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) stated,

“Moshe Feiglin has expressed extremist views in the past regarding women, sexual orientation and political issues which are inconsistent with the values and policies of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV).  These sorts of views are not representative of the Victorian Jewish community.  They are damaging to social inclusion and social cohesion in our community, and we strongly condemn these divisive and corrosive statements.

In particular, the JCCV is opposed to any homophobia, biphobia or transphobia by whomever or whoever expresses it. It has no place in our community. Everyone of any sexual orientation or gender identity should be respected and be given equal opportunity to participate in and contribute to the community.”

JCCV Plenum votes in favour of admitting Keshet as an affiliate

On Monday evening (Aug 3 2015) the Jewish Community Council of Victoria voted on the admission of Keshet Australia as an affiliate member.  The well-attended meeting, held at the Blake Street Hebrew Congregation, was orderly, efficient and respectful.

Photos from the evening (below).  Permission is granted for use (with accompanying credit to “Aleph Melbourne/Michael Barnett”) for supportive promotion of the event.

Additional media coverage here and here.

A packed JCCV Plenum meeting
Rarely is a JCCV Plenum meeting packed to capacity.  PHOTO: Michael Barnett.
JCCV Plenum votes for Keshet
The ‘Yes’ vote.  PHOTO: Michael Barnett.
JCCV admits Keshet
(L-R) Alan Samuel, Philip Bliss, Jonathan Barnett, Jennifer Huppert, Mark Cherny, Jonathan Cohen.  PHOTO: Michael Barnett.

Media Release – JCCV, Keshet and Social Inclusion | JCCV

[JCCV media release; DOC file]

Major Milestones In Social Inclusion For The Jewish Community

04 August 2015

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) Plenum on Monday night had a near record attendance of affiliate organisations, community leaders and interested community members to participate in two milestone events.

In a landmark decision, the JCCV Plenum voted to support the affiliation of Keshet Australia Inc, the JCCV’s first LGBT affiliate. Jonathan Barnett, President of Keshet spoke about the mental health and exclusion problems faced by Jews of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, and Keshet’s role in combatting these.

Jennifer Huppert, JCCV President, stated, “This is the first time that a LGBT organisation has joined a Jewish community roof body in Australia and one of the few around the world.  Rarely has this happened in faith based communities anywhere in the world.”

This is a concrete step in our advancement of full social inclusion for every member of the Jewish community, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  The discussions within our affiliates before the vote were important, as they raised awareness of the issues faced by some members of our community, and the importance of embracing diversity.  The vote was a comprehensive victory for inclusion and a strong statement by the Jewish community against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersex exclusion.”

David Marlow, JCCV Executive Director stated, “This vote may not change the world, but will change the way many in our community feel about the world.”

The JCCV Plenum also voted to support the adoption of the new JCCV Social Inclusion Disability Policy, aimed at reducing stigma and improving inclusion and access to community based services and activities for members of the Jewish community with a disability.  The Policy was introduced by JCCV executive member Doron Abramovici, who said that “The JCCV has a proud record of advocating for inclusion all members of our community and today we extend this history with 2 motions”. David Southwick MP, Chair of the Social Inclusion Leadership Committee (SILC) was one of a number of people who spoke in support of the policy.