Purim was the one day I wasn’t in disguise | AJN

OPINION

Purim was the one day I wasn’t in disguise

From Purim to the Pride March.

By DASSI HERSZBERG
March 17, 2022, 11:16 am

ON Purim – a day when it is customary to hide your true identity – I found mine. As the fifth child in a family of eight, I struggled with my own identity both within my family and our closed ultra-Orthodox Adass Israel community.

Conforming to the strict dress codes expected by my family and surrounding community did not agree with my core perception of self.

Back then, I was considered what you’d call a “tomboy”. I loved to be active. I loved running. I loved climbing trees. I felt absolute discomfort in skirts, stockings (no matter the weather) and “girlie things”.

Riding a bike for girls was not allowed due to modesty codes, but I still managed to get some time on my brother’s bicycle every now and then and I loved it.

George was my favourite character in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five novels. With her short black cropped hair, her competency and her sense of adventure. I loved how everyone accepted her. She was “one of the boys”. I wanted to be George.

As a child, I didn’t have the language nor did I understand that my resistance to wearing skirts wasn’t only about the sense of feeling stifled from a religious perspective. It was also taking away my capacity to understand and explore my identity. My visceral rejection to the clothing wasn’t only because I didn’t understand the religious expectations. It wasn’t that I was a rebel. It just didn’t feel like I was a girl like the other girls around me.

After age three, I could no longer wear pants. That’s the age girls begin adhering to dress codes. Compulsory long sleeves and high-necked tops. I felt discomfort and suffocated. My ability to understand my identity was stifled.

Looking back at my childhood, Purim was the only day I could dress to match the way I felt. To be able to wear a pair of my brother’s pants for the day and dress up as a “boy” dresses, was always the highlight of the year for me.

It felt like a sin yet gave me a sense of liberation. Just for the day.

I now understand that my younger self’s sense of freedom in wearing boys’ clothing had a lot to do with my identity as non-binary.

I believe it was actually a positive saving grace that sexuality and the concept of gender non-conformity was non-existent. There was no language around for such expressions or conversations. That kind of subject matter was never discussed.

Nobody in my family or community could accuse me of being “evil” – at least that part hadn’t been tainted for me.

All of us wear masks at times, to hide ourselves away. Masks protect us. We are forced to wear masks to fit in with society.

But my experience was feeling forced to be dishonest. It’s a strange contradiction, not revealing who I was, was the mask I needed to wear – for self-preservation and protection.

Clothing is not just clothing. It tells a story. Clothing can be used as a “mask”. Clothing can be used to enhance. Clothing can be used as a statement of self-expression. Wearing a skirt feels so incongruous with who I am. Then again, there are days when I feel more feminine. And on those days, I feel a lot more comfortable wearing a skirt, wearing a pretty top and sometimes even putting make up on.

But on those days, when it is my choice to wear more typically feminine clothing, I am wearing them because I am being true to the essence of myself. Not because it’s being forced upon me by religious values.

Every Purim, I personally celebrate the recognition of finding my identity. It falls on my birthday and as such is my true “anniversary”. Purim is also a day when I celebrate my younger self’s sense of exhilaration, striding out of my childhood family home, dressed as a boy.

In a similar way, I felt absolutely elated when I marched under the banner of Pathways Melbourne with the Jews of Pride parade for the first time, wearing the clothes I wanted to wear.

Being surrounded by a diverse group of Jewish and non-Jewish people, each with their own senses of identity – all of us accepting of one another as a colourful member of our broad community. Each with our own story and history of how we “arrived” together.

Dassi Herszberg is a member of the Pathways Melbourne advisory panel and a qualified art therapist and counsellor. For further information, visit pathwaysmelbourne.org

A sense of Jewish pride | AJN

‘FANTASTIC SUPPORT’

A sense of Jewish pride

The annual Midsumma Pride March received fantastic support from the community.

By AJN STAFF
February 13, 2022, 10:00 am 

The Jewish community was out in force at the annual Midsumma Pride March last Sunday. With crowds back to normal after the pandemic, there was rapturous applause for the 70 -strong Jews of Pride contingent, with everyone clapping and dancing along to the Jewish music.

Participating organisations included Aleph Melbourne, the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Temple Beth Israel, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Zionism Victoria, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), Pathways Melbourne, SKIF and Temple Beth Israel.

Aleph co-convenor Michael Barnett told The AJN “I am heartened to see the fantastic support from Jewish youth groups, providing a safe and inclusive space for LGBTIQ+ people. We also have more parents and families of young people attending, crucial to the safe development of their children.”

The sentiment was echoed by regular participant, Naomi Barnett, who said it was her best ever Pride March yet, with so much enthusiasm from the sidelines for the Jewish presence.

JCCV vice president Doron Abramovici reflected, “It is a wonderful experience for all Jewish organisations to march together, as a unified group.

“Jews of Pride” awarded honorable mention in “Most Fabulous” category at 2022 Pride March

In 2018 the “Jews of Pride” contingent was awarded the “Most Fabulous” category in the Midsumma Pride March.

In 2022 “Jews of Pride” was awarded an Honourable Mention in the “Most Fabulous” category in the Midsumma Pride March:

Congratulations to winners, honourable mentions and all other groups.

Jews of Pride 2020: Stars! Camera! Action!

Enjoy the photos, videos and media coverage of Jews of Pride 2020.

Photos mainly of the Jews of Pride contingent at the 25th Pride March.

Posted by Michael Barnett on Monday, February 3, 2020
Henry Greener @ The Shtick and Helen Shardey discuss Pride March and Jewish Queer diversity (to 3:20 in the video). Video and photos of “Jews of Pride” by Michael Barnett.

MEDIA RELEASE: “Jews of Pride” huge success at 25th Pride March
J-WIRE: The sun shines on Jewish pride
J-Wire: Marching with pride
Australian Jewish News: A celebration of diversity

Australian Jewish News – February 14 2020 (page 8)

VIDEO: Jews of Pride 2020

A compilation of videos showcasing the “Jews of Pride” contingent at Pride March 2020.

The “Jews of Pride” contingent came to life again at the 25th Pride March, February 2, 2020.

Enjoy this compilation of clips taken from the day showcasing the diversity of Melbourne’s Jewish community, celebrating LGBTIQ+ people and our families.

Compilation:
SKIF shows who can dance (0:22)
Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC) (2:09)
Queer South Asian dancers (2:17)
The truck starts and a proud Jewish mum rushes out (2:25)
Ute-cam: Music, meet contingent. Let the fun begin! (2:57)
Quick dance routine in street (7:32)
Street dancing and the contingent (7:37)
SKIF & Habo dance (12:56)
Rounding final corner out of Fitzroy Street (13:47)

Participating organisations:
Aleph Melbourne, Australian Jewish Democratic Society, Habonim Dror, Jewish Care Victoria, Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Keshet Australia, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (VIC), SKIF, Temple Beth Israel, and Zionist Federation of Australia.

"Jews of Pride" huge success at 25th Pride March

MEDIA RELEASE
FEBRUARY 3 2020
“Jews of Pride” huge success at 25th Pride March

Jews of Pride at 2020 Pride March
Jews of Pride at 2020 Pride March

Returning for the third year in a row, the award-winning Jews of Pride contingent brought song, dance and festivity to the streets of St Kilda, as part of the 25th annual Pride March, on Sunday February 2 2020.

Fielding it’s largest contingent ever, over 140 people came together representing ten organisations from the Jewish community proudly made their way along Fitzroy Street, to the tunes of traditional and Israeli music pumping from a brightly decorated sound truck, in support of LGBTIQ+ people and families.

Lead organisers Colin Krycer and Michael Barnett, having spent months planning the contingent, were overjoyed that a greater breadth of organisations from the Jewish community joined participated. First time attendees included the National Council of Jewish Women VIC headed up by President Miriam Bass, Zionist Federation of Australia headed up by CEO Ginette Searle, and Australian Jewish Democratic Society headed up by David Zyngier.

Contingent stalwarts included SKIF, Habonim Dror, Temple Beth Israel, Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Aleph Melbourne and Keshet Australia.

Jewish Care, returning for their second year, added two brightly decorated minibuses to the contingent, allowing an inclusive opportunity for those who could not walk along the parade route.

The weather was magnificent, breaking the trend of searingly hot days in recent years, and escaping flooding downpours the day prior, with blue skies and warmth adding to the joy of the event. Onlookers were thrilled with the Jews of Pride, many offering Mazal Tovs and L’chaims.

Although there has been a strong Jewish presence in Pride March for all of its 25 year history, this year’s Jews of Pride contingent saw more community leaders, community organisations, families and supporters standing up for the inclusion, celebration, acceptance, visibility and respect of same-sex attracted, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people, and rainbow families.

Jews of Pride will return in 2021, bigger, better and more beautifully Jewish.

Further comment available:
Michael Barnett
michael@aleph.org.au
0417-595-541
Pronouns: he/him/his
Colin Krycer
colin@aleph.org.au
0411-441-691
Pronouns: he/him/his

PHOTO GALLERY (31 high-res photos)
Credit to Michael Barnett
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dymdzf4io5idjpc/AACxWXf751__wk74PIZhKIwha?dl=0
Note: photos will be available for a limited time

END

Media Release: Jews of Pride returns to Pride March in 2020

MEDIA RELEASE
SUNDAY JANUARY 12 2020
JEWS OF PRIDE RETURNS TO PRIDE MARCH IN 2020

The biggest ever Jews of Pride contingent will come together on Sunday February 2 at the 2020 Midsumma Pride March in Melbourne.

Over ten supportive groups from the Melbourne Jewish community will comprise Jews of Pride as we proudly stand up for and celebrate equality for all LGBTIQ+ people.

In 2018 Jews of Pride was awarded the “Most Fabulous” group in Pride March: https://aleph.org.au/2018/02/18/jewish-contingent-awarded-most-fabulous-in-2018-midsumma-pride-march

Last year the collective energy of 100 people created an unsurpassed Jewish presence in Pride March: https://aleph.org.au/2019/02/06/jews-of-pride-at-midsumma-pride-march-2019

This year, after months of planning, Jews of Pride returns with renewed enthusiasm, a fantastic fresh look, a bigger sound system and refreshed playlist, and our largest ever number of groups from the Jewish community. Participating organisations include:

  • Aleph Melbourne
  • Australian Jewish Democratic Society
  • Habonim Dror
  • Jewish Care Victoria
  • Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria
  • Keshet
  • National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Vic)
  • SKIF
  • Temple Beth Israel
  • Zionist Federation of Australia
  • and more!

We invite the entire Jewish community to join Jews of Pride and celebrate Jewish trans and gender diverse, intersex, same-sex attracted people, rainbow families and allies, in the most fabulous, dynamic and festive contingent, as we pump out upbeat music and dance our way along Fitzroy Street.

Be part of the fun and meet us at the marshalling area, corner of Lakeside Drive and Fitzroy Street between 10 and 10:30 am for the 11am march start. Jews of Pride is in Wave G, position 16.

Jews of Pride Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1361418940707508
March order: https://www.midsumma.org.au/info/midsumma-pride-march-2020-marching-order

Enquiries: Michael Barnett | michael@aleph.org.au | 0417-595-541

“Jews of Pride” at Midsumma Pride March 2019

The award-winning “Jews of Pride” contingent returned to dominate Pride March 2019 with an amazing sound system and a dynamic presence.

Midsumma Pride March was held on Sunday February 3 2019.  With a maximum forecast of 40 degrees expected to hit by 2pm, the temperature had reached the mid-30s at the start time of 11am.

2018 saw “Jews of Pride” awarded the “Most Fabulous” group and this year we were all that and more.  A record number of participants braved the heat to demonstrate support for same-sex attracted, trans and gender-diverse, and intersex people and families in the Jewish community.

There were around 100 participants from a diverse range of community organisations including an inaugural appearance from Jewish Care, along with Pride March stalwarts Hashomer Hatzair, Habonim Dror, Netzer, SKIF, Temple Beth Israel, Keshet, Aleph Melbourne and the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria.

A sound truck supplied by Aleph Melbourne’s Colin Krycer announced the contingent to the cheering onlookers as it pumped out upbeat Jewish and Israeli favourites along the length of the parade route.

All Jewish organisations (and community members) are invited to join us in 2020.  Send a message via our contact page indicating your interest.

Watch and hear the “Jews of Pride” contingent power down Fitzroy Street:

Quick glimpse at 21 second mark:

Photos of the “Jews of Pride” contingent on Facebook:

The "Jews of Pride" contingent had around 100 members from a diverse range of community organisations including an…

Posted by Michael Barnett on Monday, February 4, 2019