“I’m Gay and I’m Jewish. Do I still belong?”

Young Jewish Professionals – Melbourne presents panel event I’m Gay and I’m Jewish. Do I still belong? as part of their Shavuot night “A Night To Ignite”:

DaMinyan - A night to ignite

Facebook event here.

Disclaimer: In posting this event Aleph Melbourne does not necessarily endorse the views of the organisation hosting this event or that of the speakers presenting at it.  Aleph Melbourne also advises that there are multiple ‘Torah perspectives’ on homosexuality, such as that of Masorti and Progressive Judaism, which offer a more inclusive and accepting perspective to that of Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Judaism.

Limmud Oz 2014: the Queer sessions

Limmud Oz Logo 2014This year there are two Queer-related sessions at Limmud Oz 2014 in Melbourne.
Details below.

Sunday June 8
4:00pm – 5:00pm
Room: HB36

The Yids are all right: the hidden Jews behind British Pop
Gary Holzman
Arts | Other

It is a little known fact that a group of gay Jewish promoters had a substantial influence on the development of pop music in the late 50s and early 60s in Britain. In this session we will investigate the reasons for this phenomenon and also look in depth at the hidden Jewish promoters and songwriters behind such popular British pop and rock acts of the 60s and 70s as Cliff Richard, the Beatles, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Freddie & the Dreamers, Herman’s Hermits, The Yardbirds, Manfred Mann, Fleetwood Mac, The Hollies, 10cc, Procol Harum, T-Rex and many others. Viewing vintage film & video clips, analysing song lyrics and listening to a lot of great music are all part of this entertaining session.

Monday June 9:
5:15pm – 6:15pm
Room: H2.38

Orthogay – has anything changed for gay men and women in the orthodox world? Will it ever?
Shamir Caplan
Text, Tradition and Faith | Jewish Ideas

One of the most challenging issues of our time within the Orthodox community is how to deal with homosexuality. How to reconcile the Biblical texts with modern science’s understanding of sexuality? How has Orthodoxy responded to homosexuals within the community? This is surely a defining issue for Orthodoxy in the modern era. Come join us for a presentation and respectful and open discussion on this important topic.

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.

Melbourne Queer Film Festival 2014

2014 MQFF

This year’s Melbourne Queer Film Festival again presents a rich selection of cinematic offerings from Israel and also of Jewish/Semitic relevancy. View the full programme here.

Sessions – Israel

Saturday 15 March 2014

6:15 PM at ACMI Cinema 2
Summer Vacation
10:30 PM at ACMI Cinema 2

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Snails in the Rain (SHABLULIM BA-GESHEM)
6:00 PM at HOYTS Melbourne Central, Cinema 3

Wednesday 19 March 2014

8:30 PM at ACMI Cinema 1

Saturday 22 March 2014

Being There
10:15 PM at ACMI Cinema 1

Sessions – Religion (Jewish / Islamic)

Friday 21 March 2014

10:30 PM at ACMI Cinema 1

Sunday 23 March 2014

1:00 PM at ACMI Cinema 2

Statement on Homophobia | Union for Progressive Judaism

[ Original statement ]



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.

It’s Who We Are: Celebrating 20 years of the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria

From the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria:

JLGV groupDear All,

Most exciting news!!!! Our documentary is going to be shown at the Melb
Queer Film Festival on Sunday 23 March at 4pm. Please pass on to all your friends.Sun 23 Mar 4:00 PM
ACMI Cinema 1

David Muir & Kate Lefoe
The Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria (JLGV) had its beginnings in 1992, when words like ‘lesbian’ and ‘Jew’ were still whispered, and it wasn’t always safe for the women to be open about who they were. Three Jewish lesbian friends organised a workshop for Jewish lesbians which attracted a phenomenal turnout, filling the room with warmth, laughter, and tears of recognition and relief. The JLGV had been born!
This warm-hearted documentary charts the birth of the JLGV and its continued activities in providing a social and support network, as well as acting as a powerful lobby group initiating significant change in Jewish, feminist and LGBTI communities around Australia.

Media Release: Aleph Melbourne welcomes stance from Jewish community leadership against intolerance of homosexuality

February 14 2014


Aleph Melbourne welcomes the recent statement from David Marlow, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, where he unreservedly stands up to intolerance of homosexuality:

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

Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said “Whilst the JCCV has been increasingly passionate over the last 12 months in standing up to homophobia, and in stating that being gay is ok, this is the first time the JCCV has actually made a claim that any intolerance of homosexuality is unacceptable.”

Barnett added “Hearing these words from a representative of the JCCV shows they understand that members of the Jewish community have been hurt by intolerance of their sexual orientation, due to factors like inflexible religious attitudes and a lack of education.”

Aleph Melbourne calls on the JCCV to raise the issue of intolerance of homosexuality with its member organisations, especially those who continue to promote intolerance of homosexuality, and help build a safe, inclusive and affirming environment, that not only accepts but visibly celebrates all people as valued and equal members of the community, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

For further comment contact:
Michael Barnett / 0417-595-541 / michael@aleph.org.au

Jewish Museum of Australia: Midsumma Festival 2014 – When voices meet visions: an exploration of queer Jewish identity

Media Release
Jewish Museum of Australia

Midsumma Festival 2014 – When voices meet visions: an exploration of queer Jewish identity

“A community is too heavy to carry alone” – Deuteronomy Rabbah 1:10
This quote is featured in the current temporary exhibition Voices & Visions, now showing at the Jewish Museum.

The Jewish Museum of Australia is proud to be taking part in another year of the Midsumma Festival. This year’s event, When voices meet visions: an exploration of queer Jewish identity, uses the current Voices & Visions temporary exhibition, as the launchpad for a discussion about what it is to be gay and Jewish.

The exhibition features a series of posters designed by some of America’s most prominent graphic designers, who have responded to quotes by Jewish luminaries throughout history – ranging from Martin Buber to Susan Sontag to Maimonides. In the same vein, the panel will respond to the quotes featured in the exhibition, and relate them to their personal experiences.

Chairing the event will be Museum Director & CEO Rebecca Forgasz, and the panellists include psychologist Debbie Zaks, teacher Sandra Schneiderman and artist Sam Schoenbaum.

Rebecca Forgasz says:
“In Judaism we are encouraged to ask questions and find multiple interpretations of traditional texts, the premise being that these texts have infinite depth and eternal relevance. At this event we are asking the panellists to make their own meanings from the texts offered up in the Voices & Visions exhibition. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore queer culture in a Jewish context.”

Rebecca Forgasz is available for further comment and interviews.

For media enquiries please contact Elise Hearst on 8534 3612 or e.hearst@jewishmuseum.com.au

When voices meet visions: an exploration of queer Jewish identity
Thursday 30 January at 6.30pm
Jewish Museum of Australia
26 Alma Rd
St Kilda 3182