Danby – principled politician with genuine convictions?

Guest article by Gregory Storer.

Michael Danby MP has let us all know, well before the next election, that he won’t be standing again.Michael Danby MP

The member for Melbourne Ports has been in the seat since 1998.  That’s twenty years.

While Danby may have enjoyed the support of his Jewish constituency, that can’t be said about other demographics within his electorate.

Letters of congratulations and thanks have been pouring in for him.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry issued a glowing summary of Danby’s retirement, saying that it is sad news.  They talk about him being a ‘fearless champion for the arts and for many human rights causes, most especially those which have not been fashionable or popular, or which have attracted the ire of powerful interests.’

They then give two examples, Danby meeting with the Dalai Lama and his ‘passionate advocacy for Israel’.

Danby’s record isn’t so wonderful when it comes to human rights.  Despite his electorate being in the heart of a diverse area with not only a large Jewish population, but also a GLBTIQ cohort, he had to be dragged kicking and screaming into a supportive role for his ‘gay community’.

When the horrid knife attack at the Jewish Pride March of 2015 happened, the best he could do was like a tweet from Aleph Melbourne.

Michael Danby Twitter favourite re Jerusalem attackIt was a pretty simple ask. However, Danby has always kept his support for all things Jewish separate from his support for the GLBTIQ community.

When it came to the election in 2010 where I stood against him in Melbourne Ports, it soon became apparent that he didn’t want to muddy the waters.  He never addressed Jewish concerns or GLBITQ issues in the one media release. He ensured that his advertising was separate and had different messages for different audiences.  Which in itself may not be a big issue, except that he failed to represent the views of organisations such as Aleph, barely even acknowledging their existence. His main bragging point to the Jewish voters was how much he and the then-Labor Government had spent in the community; he called it “The golden era of Labor and Jewish Schools”.  Never once did he mention anything about gay rights or all the work he purported to do for the GLBTIQ community.

It’s also worth recalling his response to the horrific shooting of two young people in a gay community centre in Tel Aviv in 2009.  He didn’t have one.

When he was busy crowing about how he managed to change moderation policies on crickey.com.au and newmatilda.com.au, which he described as the “Dark and Ugly Recesses of the Internet” he simply ignored a local orthodox Jewish blog that was blatantly homophobic.  He took issue with Crikey and New Matilda for posting comments regarding the holocaust and talks about the anti-Semitism on their sites. He used his position to persuade them to make the changes. However, he couldn’t bring himself to address that hate blog from his own community that was almost daily pumping out the hate towards the GLBTIQ community.

The whole lack of support can be summed up with his approach to marriage equality.  So while he had been busily chasing the ‘gay vote’ for years in his electorate, he didn’t support equality at all in the parliament, despite claiming he was supportive.  I asked him during a candidates debate and he said that the Labor party would address the matter in the next parliament. He never did. When it did come to a vote, he abstained, he left the floor of the house.  He never attended one marriage equality rally to show support. He barely acknowledged the Pride March that went past his office every year.

So, while everyone is saying how much he’ll be missed and what a great supporter of the community he has been, just remember, the man played politics with the lives of those he was supposed to be representing.

He sought the vote of the gay and the Jewish community, but made sure that he never mention it to either community.

He went out of his way to call out human rights transgressions, but never once publicly supported Aleph in their attempts to raise sexuality and gender identity issues in his electorate.

He really hasn’t been a hero of Melbourne Ports.

Even in departing, he can’t even muster a few gay people to stand with him in front of his Yes window like he did on other occasions.

Danby office rainbow yesDanby office Hands off our ABCDanby office team

Executive Council of Australian Jewry responds to misleading claims around marriage equality and the London Jewish Girls school

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry responds to misleading claims involving the Vishnitz Jewish Girls School and marriage equality.

Factual inaccuracies surrounding London’s Vishnitz Girls School
04.10.2017

In the continuing debate concerning the legal recognition of same sex marriages, verbal abuse should be condemned and factual inaccuracies corrected.

One claim relating to the Jewish community is that the ultra-Orthodox Vishnitz Girls School in north London in the UK lost its accreditation as a school because it would not cease teaching its version of sexuality and marriage after same-sex marriages became legal in March 2014.

In point of fact the school found itself in difficulties with Ofsted (the UK school regulatory authority) well before March 2014 because it was said to have failed various other legal standards arising under earlier legislation. For example, the school was found to have failed to have policies in place that would require it to report incidents of abuse and neglect.

Provisions of the UK Equality Act 2010, under which sexual orientation became a protected characteristic, and which predates the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, explicitly provide that the school has the right to teach its own beliefs about sexuality and marriage in a way that does not disrespect LGBTQI people.

 

Aleph Melbourne has detailed this situation in our post Lyle Shelton exposed for falsely blaming marriage equality for the failings of a London Jewish school.

JEWISH AUSTRALIANS SAY YES TO EQUALITY

JEWISH AUSTRALIANS SAY YES TO EQUALITY
SEPTEMBER 20 2017

Right now in Australia, there is a battle going on for the dignity and rights of people that happen to not be heterosexual.  The entire country is being asked to vote on the rights of one section of the community.  As Jews, we know too well the dangers of singling out one group of people, and refusing them the rights that are shared by all.  As Jews, we know too well the cost of silence in the face of discrimination and injustice.  We will not stand by in silence as part of our community is stereotyped, vilified, judged, treated differently.  We are all diminished when we discriminate against and demean the love between people based on their sexuality.  We are all strengthened when we support and uphold the rights of people to be treated equally.

We are proud to add our names to the growing list of supporters who recognise the right to love freely, and the right to be treated equally under the law.  We stand in support of same sex marriage in Australia.  Our community is diverse, and we owe it to all our members to know that they do not stand alone.

In a truly progressive and inclusive society, the rights of all people are respected equally. Currently in Australia the right to marry is denied to LGBTQI couples.  As Jewish Australians, we believe that there should be no law that discriminates against one section of our community.  We embrace diversity in our community and in society.

A no vote in this postal survey has no place in a pluralistic and secular country such as ours and would simply entrench discrimination against LGBTQI people.  We cannot say we believe in equality, but only in certain circumstances.  Therefore, we urge people to vote for fairness, respect and diversity.

Vote YES, so that we are all equal under the law.

To add your name to this list please email contact@aleph.org.au.

SIGNATORIES

  • Sandra Schneiderman, Secondary Teacher, working with and for the United Nations
  • Mark Cherny, Ophthalmic surgeon
  • Manny Waks, Victims Advocate
  • Max Gettler, Actor
  • Hinde Ena Burstin, Writer and Lecturer
  • Arnold Zable, Author and human rights advocate
  • David Burstin, Software Engineer
  • Emma Kowal, Research Professor
  • Shauna Sherker, Research Scientist
  • Deborah Cohn, Doctor
  • David Krycer, musician and teacher
  • Rebecca Krycer, artist
  • Sefra Burstin, Dance Studio Principal
  • Simon Gomolinski, retired
  • Lyndall Katz, trainer in Social Housing sector
  • Deborah Feldman, SAHM
  • David Laloum, IT manager
  • Sivan Barak, Social worker
  • Michelle Fink, Doctor
  • Sheree Waks, self-employed
  • Vivienne Porzsolt, community activist
  • Hedy Sussmann, student
  • Lara Sonnenschein, student
  • Linda Sonnenschein, lawyer
  • Denis Sonnenschein, engineer
  • Daniel Ergas, student
  • Noa Zulman, student
  • Jordy Silverstein, historian
  • Michael Zylberman, Chairperson, Jewish Labour Bund Inc.
  • Sandra Padova, retired
  • Bill Arnold,JP, Pharmacist
  • Judy Pincus, Aged Care worker
  • Beverley Olbourne, Doctor
  • Ros Goldman,retired
  • Hannah Fagenblat, retired
  • Dr David Zyngier Associate Professor SCU
  • Keren Tova Rubinstein
  • Zoe Feigen, veterinarian
  • Carla Magid, Teacher
  • Jewish Labour Bund Inc.
  • SKIF
  • Dvora Zylberman, Teacher
  • Reyzl Zylberman, Teacher
  • Olivia Frim, Student
  • Deborah Rosenberg, Social Justice Supporter
  • Nizza Siano, political activist
  • The Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria
  • Renata Singer, writer
  • Shane Golden, Oncology Nurse
  • Joan Nestle, writer
  • Marion Singer, arts worker
  • Deborah Zion, Associate Professor and Bioethicist
  • Sue Beecher, psychologist, social worker, meditation teacher
  • Naomi Lisner Actor/Writer/Producer and Life Model
  • Anna Epstein, curator, editor
  • Debra nirens, Teacher assistant / massage therapist
  • Paul Russell, Academic
  • Mark Baker, Academic
  • David Danziger, Company director and performance motivation trainer
  • Sandra Hochberg, Social worker
  • Akiva Quinn, IT & Community Work
  • Jack Diamond, Chairperson, Box Hill Institute Group & Council of Adult Education
  • Robin Margo, ex founding editor-in-chief Plus61J
  • Anne Gawenda teacher
  • Abraham Weizfeld P.D. Canadian Bundist
  • Andrew Cohn, Circulation manager
  • Bruce Baker, Orthodontist
  • Michelle Baker, Practice Manager
  • Sylvie Leber, artist/musician and human rights activist
  • Esther Grinfeld, research scientist
  • Tessa Boucher, retired teacher
  • Karen Silverman, academic
  • Daniel Ari Baker, lawyer, World Trade Organization (Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Sabina Berman, company director
  • Paul Berman, company director
  • Leah Garrett, Professor of Jewish Studies at Monash University
  • Angela Budai, Union official
  • Daniel Goldberg, student
  • Gilad Cohen, Student
  • Michael Gawenda, journalist and writer
  • Nelly Zola, retired
  • Zina Sofer, photographer
  • Sandi Issacs, Nurse
  • Eve Rosenberg, retired
  • Helen Rosenberg, Equality Supporter
  • Husky Gawenda
  • Pip Mushin – Director
  • Feygi Phillips – Teacher
  • Zac Phillips – Student
  • Carly Rosenthal, Student
  • Noah Shilkin, Recording Artist
  • Russell Goldblatt, Student
  • Ginette Preston, Humanist
  • Robert Preston, Humanist
  • Shelley Rosen, Teacher
  • Larry Stillman, Senior Research Fellow
  • Debra Star, Tram Driver
  • Freydi Mrocki, Performer and Teacher
  • Sara Kowal, Lawyer
  • Ross Lomazov, Student
  • Joan Dwyer OAM
  • Joe Tigel – Director, Kadimah
  • Michelle Nachsatz, teacher
  • Michele Huppert, Psychologist
  • John Warszawski
  • Leah Boulton, Art Director
  • Pathways Melbourne
  • Marcia Jacobs, Teacher/Writer
  • Lionel Mrocki, Naturopath / Musician
  • Joel Nothman, data scientist
  • Sara Vidal, author
  • Jacqueline Geary, Retired
  • Avi Cohen, educator
  • Elsa Tuet-Rosenberg, human
  • Esther Jilovsky, Student Rabbi
  • Asher Preston
  • Yvette Coppersmith, artist and teacher
  • Helen Light, Consultant
  • David Slucki, historian
  • Helen Slucki, higher education administrator
  • Henry Monkus, Doctor
  • Talia Katz, Communications Specialist
  • Sylvia Haber, Teacher
  • Sasha Osowicki, nurse
  • Sholam Blustein, consultant
  • Natalie Blustein, sales
  • Solomon Bender, semi retired
  • Josh Osowicki, doctor
  • Cara Mand, researcher
  • Ros Harari, Student counsellor, family therapist
  • Marila Lustig, retired
  • Emma Shulman, teacher
  • Jason Shulman, teacher
  • Bram Presser, writer and lawyer
  • Siri Clemans
  • Leon Harari, IT consultant
  • Sharon Burstin
  • Dave Wynne, Engineer
  • Ben Mand President – Sholem Aleichem College
  • Devorah Koronczyk
  • Toby Bender, Musician
  • Tamar Simons, Jewish International Film Festival Manager
  • Fay Mest, teacher aide
  • Rabbi Allison RH Conyer
  • Melinda Jones, human rights lawyer
  • Tammy Goldwasser, Doctor
  • Jeff Robinson – Manager
  • Anthony Levin, Human Rights lawyer, Sydney
  • Wendy Gill – Disability/Mental health Case Manager
  • Gita Goldberg – Disability support worker
  • Gideon Preiss, Musician
  • Miki Iitake, mother of two
  • Dalit Kaplan, lawyer and storyteller
  • Suzi Riess, Doctor
  • Karen Loblay, Managing Director
  • Elise Hearst, writer
  • Janet Gluch Psychologist
  • Shiri Shapiro
  • Ms. Zvia Ben Rahamim
  • Linda Wachtel – artist
  • Sam Perla – Medical Practitioner
  • Lucien Richter – Lawyer
  • Goldie Zyskind, Loss and grief counsellor
  • Jack Strom – Producer, Director and Artist Manager
  • Raphael Dascalu – Researcher, translator, editor
  • Ben Guralnek – Estimator
  • Naomi Raymond Moss
  • Sari Schmidt – Website developer
  • Jessica Richter – lawyer
  • Irving Wallach, Barrister
  • Eytan Lenko – Executive Director
  • Andrew Gelbart, Human
  • Tirtzah (Therese) Kutis
  • Ben Silverstein, historian
  • Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS)
  • Susan Koutsky Retired
  • Danielle Hersz, IT Professional
  • Gabrielle shroot, writer
  • Leslie Shroot, consultant
  • Lisa Amitai, instructional designer and writer
  • Dr Ron Elisha, GP
  • Zara Seidler, student
  • Roger Velik, director
  • Robert Richter – QC
  • Shaynee Hall, Dance teacher
  • Jake Hall, PT
  • Adam Gomolinski, Consultant
  • Shelley Segal Singer songwriter
  • Nadine Davidoff
  • Michelle Szwarcberg
  • Elaine Davidoff
  • Sid Davidoff
  • David Neustein, director of Other Architects
  • Joshua Reuben, student
  • Zoi Juvris, program manager of Courage to Care
  • Savannah Juvris
  • Marc Kron
  • Nicole Myerson, psychologist
  • Ray Barnes, social worker
  • Miron Goldwasser Doctor
  • Bronia Witorz, retired teacher
  • Bindy Edelman, Diversity and Inclusion Manager
  • Michael Debinski
  • Toni Whitmont, sound healer
  • Michael Barnett, Equality Activist
  • Rose Blustein – Retired
  • Charles Shaie Blustein – Retired
  • David Langsam, Journalist/Editor
  • David Jones, Clinical Psychologist
  • Glenda Jones, Psychologist
  • Penelope Jones
  • Allan Preiss – consultant
  • Davina Cohen, social worker
  • Rabbi Jeffrey B. Kamins OAM
  • Eliza McCarroll – student rabbi
  • Benjamin Sheiman – Student
  • Dudy Margalit
  • Sylvia Jacobs
  • Moran Dvir
  • Ilana Snyder, emeritus professor
  • Kim Gotlieb – Psychotherapist
  • Essie Lustig – hospital admin
  • Talia Maayan – Paediatrician
  • Julia Blum – psychotherapist
  • Tom Hersz – Compliance Manager
  • Keshira haLev Fife – Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess) and Registered Marriage Celebrant
  • Tim Fife – Strategy Consultant
  • Rob Gould, art dealer
  • Kate Gould – Neuropsychologist
  • Anna Faiman – Campus Administrator
  • Jamie Hyams, Councillor – City of Glen Eira
  • Tali Rechtman, law graduate
  • Lee-Ronn Paluch, Veterinarian
  • Casey-Ann Wainer – Teacher, PhD candidate, Singer-Songwriter
  • Rosy Fischbein – Admin Manager
  • Jacqui Saunders – Production Controller
  • Cassandra Barrett – Mental Health Promotion
  • Dan Schroeder – Barber
  • Lois Brown – Assistive Technology Consultant
  • Stiofán Mac Suibhne – Lecturer
  • Stephen Camden-Smith – IT professional
  • Luke Power
  • Craig Carr, Public servant
  • Suzanne D. Rutland, OAM
  • Romi Kupfer, Theatre Director
  • Nina Rubinstein
  • Marilyn Kraner, Social Worker
  • Corinne Deitch – Art therapist
  • Alana Scherr, Jewess with the Mostess

2016 Voters Guide to Marriage Equality in Jewish Melbourne

This guide is aimed to assist voters living in the main Jewish neighbourhoods in Melbourne best select candidates who have comprehensively demonstrated or pledged their full support for marriage equality.

Levels of support for “same-sex marriage” listed for each electorate in this guide are taken from the “News Ltd 2010 Same-Sex Marriage Poll”.  The raw data is available in the resources section below.

MPs re-contesting their seats have an * after their name.

Feedback, corrections and updates are invited via the form below.  Information is provided here in good faith and on the understanding that it is correct.

This page is optimised for viewing on a full-screen browser.

Candidates & Electorates


Goldstein

2010 levels of support for “same-sex marriage” in electorate:

  • For: 50% | Against: 28% | Don’t Care: 22%

Candidates who will support marriage equality based on their party or personal position:

Candidates who personally support marriage equality but are denied a free vote by their party:

Candidates who will oppose marriage equality based on their party or personal position:


Higgins

2010 levels of support for “same-sex marriage” in electorate:

  • For: 57% | Against: 27% | Don’t Care: 17%

Candidates who will support marriage equality based on their party or personal position:

Candidates who personally support marriage equality but are denied a free vote by their party:


Hotham

2010 levels of support for “same-sex marriage” in electorate:

  • For: 44% | Against: 32% | Don’t Care: 24%

Candidates who will support marriage equality based on their party or personal position:

Candidates who do not have a declared position on marriage equality but are denied a free vote by their party:

  • George HUA (Liberal) (web site | facebook)
    ** Note: this candidate has refused to advise if they would support marriage equality.

Candidates who will oppose marriage equality based on their party or personal position:


Kooyong

2010 levels of support for “same-sex marriage” in electorate:

  • For: 54% | Against: 29% | Don’t Care: 18%

Candidates who will support marriage equality based on their party or personal position:

Candidates who personally support marriage equality but are denied a free vote by their party:


Melbourne Ports

2010 levels of support for “same-sex marriage” in electorate:

  • For: 61% | Against: 20% | Don’t Care: 19%

Candidates who will support marriage equality based on their party or personal position:

Candidates who personally support marriage equality but are denied a free vote by their party:

Candidates who will oppose marriage equality based on their party or personal position:

  • John B MYERS (Independent) (facebook)

Menzies

2010 levels of support for “same-sex marriage” in electorate:

  • For: 39% | Against: 41% | Don’t Care: 19%

Candidates who will support marriage equality based on their party or personal position:

Candidates who do not have a declared their position on marriage equality but belong to a party that is broadly supportive of progressive and/or evidence-based reform:

Candidates who will oppose marriage equality based on their party or personal position:


✡ Candidate has declared a Jewish identity
Candidate has declared a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex identity


Parties

Parties that support marriage equality in their policy platform and require their candidates to vote accordingly:

Parties that support marriage equality in their policy platform but allow their candidates to vote on their conscience:

Parties that don’t currently have a position on marriage equality but are broadly supportive of equality and progressive and/or evidence-based reform:

Parties that are actively obstructing the prompt passage of marriage equality:

Independent candidates may vote for or against marriage equality as they choose.


Resources






Bialik College first Australian school to support Marriage Equality

MEDIA RELEASE
Bialik College first Australian school to support Marriage Equality
February 16 2016

Adding its name to an impressive list of over 800 supporters, Bialik College takes pride of place as the first Australian K-12 school to support marriage equality.

20160216 Bialik College support for marriage equality

As a member of the Safe Schools Coalition, Bialik College is showing genuine leadership and vision by supporting marriage equality.  The school clearly understands that giving children equal opportunities in life enables them to achieve their full potential.

Michael Barnett, convenor of Aleph Melbourne, reflects on this significant moment:

“As a former student of Bialik College, I am exceedingly proud of my first high school today.  They have come a long way since I attended in the early 1980s.  I would have had an easier time at school, experienced less bullying and felt less isolated if the school had told me it was ok to love boys and that I could even marry a man when I grew up.  That validation would have made a huge difference to me, particularly at that formative stage of my life”.

Every current and future student at Bialik can now know that when they attend school, their friendships and relationships will be equally valued within their school community and that gender identity, sexual orientation and intersex status will not be a barrier to full inclusion.

This is a proud moment for the Jewish community in Australia.  It also brings Australia one step closer to removing the hurtful and pointless discrimination in the Marriage Act.

All Jewish schools, and those beyond the Jewish community, must step up to the mark, in the name of equality and for the best outcomes for their students, and similarly add their name to the Australian Marriage Equality list of academic supporters.

Further comment available from Aleph Melbourne convenor Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541.

ENDS

Jews All Diverse and Equal Video Competition! | Minus18 + JCCV

From Minus18:

We’re working on a very exciting new project with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria!

It’s a video competition all about showcasing the experiences of Jewish young people to help combat LGBTI discrimination!

Entries close on October 30th! Get in fast!

Go to http://jccv.org.au/jade for more information!

Minus18 is Australia’s largest youth-led organisation for same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people. This is where we belong.

Website https://minus18.org.au

Aleph Melbourne convenor Michael Barnett on JOY 94.9 Saturday Magazine – April 15 2015

JOY 94.9 Satuday MagazineThe Saturday Magazine program on JOY 94.9 invited Aleph Melbourne convenor Michael Barnett to talk about work of the organisation and LGBTIQ issues in Melbourne’s Jewish community.

This interview was broadcast live to air from the JOY studios on April 4 2015 at 10:45am. Program host was David ‘Macca’ McCarthy with guest host Wil Anderson.

(Download MP3 10MB)

Gay? Jewish? Neither? A manual to help you challenge the rules

Gay? Jewish? Neither? A manual to help you challenge the rules

By Diana Hodge, University of South Australia

Young adult fiction and complex themes go hand in hand – not least in one of the most recent entries to this field.

Melbourne-based writer Eli Glasman’s debut novel The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew opens a window on growing up Jewish and the ramifications this has for the development of an individual’s sexuality; protagonist, 17-year-old Yossi Speilman, is working out how to be gay in a strictly orthodox family.

Glasman’s book is a breath of fresh air, and fascinating culturally. Having lived in Melbourne’s Caulfield and St Kilda I’m familiar with the sight of Jewish families in the streets on Saturday and the men and boys in long coats with their sideburns and hats.

I’m guilty of reading this visual display of religiosity as a one-dimensional indicator of a life committed to religion with no room for fun or personal choice. Glasman’s novel has opened my eyes and reminded me (yet again) of the danger of cultural stereotypes.

Being serious about one’s religion does not, of course, mean being devoid of a sense of humour or of not having fun with your mates. Religion may provide some certainty and rules for living but it does not preclude the need for individual self-discovery that all adolescents experience.

Yossi is a young man committed to his religion, culture and community but also a typical teenager exploring his sexual feelings. I found him a delightful character and was relieved Glasman didn’t portray Yossi’s homosexuality as a torturous burden that blights his life.

Earlier young adult novels about gay and lesbian characters such as John Donovan’s I’ll Get There. It Better be Worth the Trip (1969) or more recently Julie Ann Peters’ Keeping You a Secret (2003) frequently did take this path – the sexuality of the character being the defining quality of their lives and a problem that had to be solved.

Matt Kowal

Refreshingly, Yossi does not find his homosexuality an insurmountable – the challenge is how to express it within the laws of Judaism and how to tell his friends, family and wider community. Yossi knows he is gay, he has always known; he isn’t embarrassed and he knows he can’t change.

Yossi does initially seek help from Rabbi Pilcer via an internet chat site, who advises him to wear a rubber band on his wrist and snap it whenever Yossi has a sexual thought about another male. This, Pilcer claims, will “cure” him. It doesn’t.

The Jewish teachings on sexual behaviour are complicated and, to an outsider, peculiar. It is OK to have a wet dream but masturbating is forbidden; having homosexual thoughts is all right but acting on them isn’t. Yossi’s friendship with a new kid at school, Josh, is pivotal in his coming-out process.

Josh does not have an orthodox Jewish background and challenges many of Yossi’s religious beliefs. Glasman uses these conversations between Yossi and Josh to explain various Jewish teachings, not just those on sexuality.

Josh takes Yossi to his first gay synagogue and through this Yossi begins to understand that he can be gay and religious – he meets other gay Jews and begins to see a way forward for himself.

Yossi has his first sexual experience with Josh and, for once in a young adult novel, the sex did not make me cringe. It is natural, simple, affectionate and just slightly uncomfortable. It isn’t overly graphic, nor is it coy.

The morning after, Yossi isn’t embarrassed or filled with remorse but quietly and with humour discusses the reasons for the religious prohibitions against anal sex and condoms with Josh.

OKNOVOKGHT

As Yossi says, preempting the reader’s possible response, some of this may seem silly but it is still interesting.

Coming out isn’t easy for Yossi; his father, sister and friends don’t accept immediately that he is gay; they learn as Yossi does to integrate their idea of homosexuality into their orthodox worldview. Glasman does a great job of presenting a balanced account of Yossi’s experience.

For every challenge he faces coming out to his Jewish community he also finds support and kindness from strangers, friends and family.

Glasman has avoided the trap of producing a novel about teenage sexuality; he has written a story about an interesting, intelligent and loving young man who happens to be Jewish and gay. Yossi never feels like an afterthought, created to populate an issue based or “problem” novel.

Australian writing for young adults has moved on as has our thinking about what it means to be gay.

Yossi’s life is not defined by his gayness or his Jewishness and neither is Glasman’s novel. Sure this novel could be a real comfort and support to young people facing coming out in a potentially hostile environment but it is also a joyful book that would inspire all readers to question the rules and to use creativity and love to find their path in life.

The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew by Eli Glasman is published by Sleepers, and will be launched at Readings, St Kilda, Melbourne, on July 24.

Diana Hodge does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.