David Southwick 2015 statement on Keshet gaining JCCV membership

18 AUG 2015


Mr SOUTHWICK — I would like also to congratulate the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) for voting in its plenum on 3 August in support of the affiliation of Keshet Australia, JCCV’s first GLBTI affiliate. I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to JCCV members, including their president Jonathan Barnett, on this historic moment. This is the first time a GLBTI organisation has joined a Jewish community roof body in Australia and one of the few that has done so around the world. It is fitting that it happened on the JCCV’s — —

The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Angus) — Order! The member’s time has expired.

[ View on Hansard ]

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.

Melbourne’s Largest Synagogue Celebrates GLBTI Festival

Temple Beth IsraelTemple Beth Israel (TBI) is proud to host the first ever celebration of the Midsumma Gay and Lesbian Festival in a Victorian Synagogue on Friday 31 January 2014.

In partnership with Keshet, the national GLBTI (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Intersex) Jewish advocacy group, the Shabbat Service will focus on issues of inclusion, equality and human rights in the lead up to the final weekend of the Midsumma Festival 2014.

Leading members of the Melbourne Jewish community will be honoured at the evening service in recognition of their contributions to the Jewish GLBTI community.

Among those selected for an honour are Kristen Adriaan and Ilana Gelbart, Melbourne’s first gay couple to have a Jewish commitment ceremony earlier this year at Temple Beth Israel.

TBI Senior Rabbi Gersh Lazarow says that all Jews should feel welcomed and accepted in a Synagogue.

“Temple Beth Israel is a long-standing friend of the GLBTI community, and has been a home for many members of this group.” “We actively encourage members of the Jewish GLBTI community to form a meaningful spiritual connection at TBI.

While historically many from the GLBTI have felt isolated or shunned from faith based organisations, Temple Beth Israel, as part of the

Progressive Jewish movement, prides itself on principles of egalitarianism and respect for others.” Says Rabbi Lazarow.

Founded in 1930 by a few visionaries in the Melbourne Jewish community, Temple Beth Israel is the original Progressive synagogue in Australia and New Zealand. It is one of the most active and spiritually creative forces in the Australian Jewish community running a plethora of programs for all age and interest groups.

Keshet President Jonathan Barnett welcomes the opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the community within the setting of a synagogue. “Keshet strives to cultivate the spirit and practice of inclusion in all parts of the Jewish community. To bring about long term change in institutional practices and beliefs we work in partnership with community leaders, such as TBI rabbis”, says President Barnett.

A very Queer 2013 Limmud Fest (Nov 22-24)

The following three sessions, two by Gavi Ansara and one by Jonathan Barnett with Steven Holzman, offer a diverse range of Queer content at the 2013 Limmud Fest in Rutherford Park, Victoria, Nov 22-24.  View the current program here.

LGBTI Jews: living Torah lives in our communities
and Creating meaningful rituals to mark the life cycle events specific to LGBTI Jews within a halachic framework – Gavi Ansara

Gávi Ansara received the 2002 Keshet Leadership of the Year Award for founding an Orthodox gender and sexuality outreach project and more recently received the 2012 American Psychological Association Transgender Research Award. He is completing his PhD in Psychology while working at a senior level in national LGBTI health policy.

Jewish, gay and observant; impossible! – Jonathan Barnett with Steven Holzman

Jonathan is president and founder of Keshet Australia, Inc. Jonathan is on the boards of Temple Beth Israel and Progressive Judaism Victoria. He is active in the Progressive Trust and is a former treasurer and member of Keshet USA, former President of Congregation B’nai Shalom in Massachusetts and former technical director of the Friends of Israel Firefighters.

Training the GLBTI trainers | AJN

The Australian Jewish News
Friday January 4, 2013
Page 7

Training the GLBTI trainers

KESHET Australia – a local group representing the rights of the Jewish gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) community – is seeking expressions of interest from rabbis, educators, and community professionals to take part in a US training program.

Workshops in January and May this year will provide programs for “training the trainers”, said Keshet Australia convenor Jonathan Barnett.

The workshops, organised by the Keshet Training Institute in the US, will teach these individuals how to train their own organisational staff to treat GLBTI individuals in an affirmative and inclusive manner, he said.

Keshet Australia is offer a limited number of partial scholarships to applicants who show a commitment to sharing the insights gained at these workshops with colleagues in the Australian Jewish communities, Barnett said.

Barnett said applicants need to detail why the wish to attend the Keshet Training Institute and how they hope to share learned knowledge in their local Jewish communities.

Enquiries: president@keshet.org.au.

New PJV president’s 2020 vision | AJN

The Australian Jewish News
Friday, January 11, 2013
Page 6

New PJV president’s 2020 vision
Peter Kohn

NEW president of Progressive Judaism Victoria (PJV) Brian Samuel said he was confident of exciting times ahead, as he took office at the annual general meeting.

Samuel, who has spearheaded PJV’s new marketing strategy, has also worked on its Vision 20-20 program, looking at the organisation’s goals for the year 2020.

The past president of Temple Beth Israel, Samuel paid tribute to Dr Philip Bliss – who stepped down as PJV president after a three-year term – crediting him with transforming the organisation from a synagogue-based body into a communally based one, which incorporates The King David School and Netzer youth movement.

Samuel signalled further changes in the coming year, with a strategic development day on February 10 to lay the groundwork for Progressive Judaism at the end of the decade.

He welcomed former state MP Helen Shardey, who has taken on a community-relations portfolio, and will strengthen links between the PJV and the broader Jewish community, and within State Parliament.

In his report, Bliss outlined advances in outreach to smaller regional communities during the past year, as well as in education, Israel awareness, the United Israel Appeal Progressive Trust, shlichut (recruiting volunteers from Israel), and gay rights.  “As I stand down, I know this year will be very exciting and rewarding.”

The meeting was addressed by Menachem Leibovic, deputy chair of Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael – Jewish National Fund, who have an update on his organisation’s ties with the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism.

PJV board member Jonathan Barnett – a fire safety and forensic engineer who was on the investigative team set up by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York – spoke about how the 9/11 experience has led to preventative engineering for the future.

GLBTI parent support network established | AJN

17 Aug 2012
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
Enquiries: parents@keshet.org.au; 0467 508 868.

GLBTI parent support network established

KESHET Australia, a rights group recently formed to protect Jewish children who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex (GLBTI), is forming a parent support network.

Jonathan Barnett, Keshet’s president, said parents are a critical factor in the wellbeing of children, not least when they are becoming aware of their sexuality.

“Parents are a big issue. How parents respond to their kids coming out – whether it’s a 14-year-old or a 24-year-old – really can make a big difference to how the kid feels and how they feel connected to family and the community. It’s part of our bigger mission,” he told The AJN.

“It’s not just the child that has to come out but the parent, and they come out to their friends and family,” he added.

Barnett said the three sets of parents founding the network have all gone to Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG), a mainstream support group.

“But what they all observed was that nobody else was Jewish and they wanted to be with other Jews who understand the Jewish community.”

The group is being formed as an addition or alternative to PFLAG. “We’ll have kosher cake, for example, and that’s one of the little differences,” he said.

Barnett reflected that perhaps Orthodox families need the service more than Progressives, “but everybody needs it”.

In a letter to The AJN, Barnett stated: “In our community, where success is often defined in terms of heterosexual relationships, marriage and grandchildren, there are many parents of GLBTI children who experience feelings of despair and even isolation. Keshet parents believe that there is a need to reach out and talk about these common concerns.”

Keshet Australia was formed earlier this year as an advocacy group for the Jewish GLBTI community, based on the Keshet organisation in the United States. The local group has strong informal ties with Progressive Judaism Victoria.

Download a Keshet information flyer here.