Join “Jews of Pride” at Pride March 2019

Join the “Jews of Pride” contingent on Sunday February 3 at the 2019 Midsumma Pride March in Melbourne.

Bringing together supportive groups and allies in the Jewish community, “Jews of Pride” proudly stands up for equality for all LGBTIQ+ people in the Jewish community.

In 2018 “Jews of Pride” was awarded the “Most Fabulous” group in Pride March.

In 2019 we return more fabulous and festive, pumping out upbeat music to dance your way down Fitzroy Street to.

Be sure to arrive at the marshalling area corner of Lakeside Drive and Fitzroy Street between 10 and 10:30 am for the 11am march start.

March order: http://midsumma.org.au/participate/pride-march-rego/order
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/351633665388612

David Southwick must stop abusing the LGBTIQ community

David Southwick must stop abusing the LGBTIQ community.

On January 28 2018 David Southwick had his photo taken with Jewish LGBTIQ groups at Pride March.

20180128 David Southwick and Jewish LGBTIQ groups at Pride March

Aleph Melbourne noted:

During the 2018 Victorian State Election David Southwick claimed of the Safe Schools program:

“really young children [are] being exposed to sexual education”

We have demonstrated his claim is lacking in factual accuracy and have invited him to apologise for his error.

At Pride March 2019 Aleph Melbourne will remind the community of David Southwick’s damaging and misleading claims if a sufficient apology is not forthcoming.

We would however prefer that David Southwick’s presence at Pride March 2019 was uncontroversial.

Danby – principled politician with genuine convictions?

Guest article by Gregory Storer.

Michael Danby MP

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

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 attack

It 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 yes
Danby office Hands off our ABC
Danby office team

Jewish contingent awarded “Most Fabulous” in 2018 Midsumma Pride March

It is with great delight we announce that Aleph Melbourne, together with the entire Jewish contingent participating in the 2018 Midsumma Pride March, is recipient of the “Most Fabulous” award (for the most fantastically frocked).

2018 Midsumma Pride March "Jews of Pride" Most Fabulous award

Groups registered in the award-winning Jewish contingent included Aleph Melbourne, Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Keshet Australia, Netzer Melbourne, Progressive Judaism Victoria and Temple Beth Israel.

Contributing to the success of the Jewish contingent were the visually spectacular placards from Temple Beth Israel and Aleph Melbourne, together with the booming sound truck “Barbra the Beaut Ute” and a range of technicolour banners, umbrellas, flags and fabulous community members.

The judges’ decision to select the Jewish contingent the “most fabulous” would have been especially difficult, given the many fabulous entries amongst the over 190 groups registered to march.

Aleph Melbourne is proud to represent a diverse, inclusive and most fabulous Jewish community.

A complete set of photograph of the Jewish contingent can be viewed here.  Hi-resolution images are available on request from Michael Barnett (michael@aleph.org.au).

Pride March 2018 – Loud & Proud

Colin Krycer
Colin Krycer

Pride March 2018 will see the strongest ever Jewish contingent in its two-decade history, bringing together a dynamic range of organisations from our community.

After months of planning by Aleph co-convenor Colin Krycer we can now announce that for the first time “Barbra the Beaut Ute”, resplendent with rainbow Magen David decals, will lead the Jewish groups, pumping out professionally remixed upbeat Jewish and Israeli hits.

Colin’s idea for the combined Jewish contingent was to demonstrate the harmony, inclusiveness and togetherness within the Jewish community. His dream is to see everyone dance their way down Fitzroy Street to the liveliest Jewish music.

Participating in the “Jew Crew”* are Aleph Melbourne, Jews of Pride, Temple Beth Israel, Keshet Australia, Hashomer Hatzair, Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Progressive Judaism Victoria, and Netzer Melbourne.

Be at the marshalling area, corner of Lakeside Drive and Fitzroy Street St Kilda this Sunday January 28 by 1:30pm for a 2pm sharp start.

Everyone is welcome to attend and show their support for LGBTIQ Jews. Bring your family, friends, allies and even your pets.

Aleph Melbourne – Championing LGBTIQ inclusion and advocacy in the Jewish community

20 December 2017

January 1995 saw the formation of a social group for gay Jewish men in Melbourne. The group was called Aleph Melbourne, to be distinct from the now long-defunct Aleph Sydney.

The need for a separate men’s group was due to the existence of the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, formed in 1992. It was JLGV’s desire to remain women-only, so Aleph filled the niche for men.

In the early years Aleph convened in private houses, had a committee, a meet-and-greet arrangement for new members, and a busy calendar of events.

Aleph was promoted through a small advert in the Jewish News, and also word of mouth.

I helped set up the first web page and email address for Aleph, both hosted on the then-popular Geocities service offered by Yahoo.

Due to a change in the group’s leadership in the late 1990s the committee decided to hold monthly drop-in meetings at the premises of the Victorian AIDS Council, then at 6 Claremont Street, South Yarra. The drop-in nights were a success for a long time, however dwindling attendance saw an end to these meetings in 1999.

Toward the latter half of 1998 the committee decided to apply for membership of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, in an effort to increase awareness in the Jewish community of issues that gay and bisexual men faced. Such issues included social isolation, discrimination, HIV/AIDS, and the emerging awareness of negative mental health outcomes and suicide.

In May 1999 our membership application failed to receive the two-thirds majority vote required from the council’s membership. To say our application for membership was controversial was an understatement, as it attracted front-page news, heated debate and full letter columns in the Jewish News for weeks and weeks.

Aleph felt the white-hot anger of the Orthodox leadership for daring to stand up for our individuality and acceptance. We also discovered there was a ground-swell of acceptance from many socially inclusive organisations, most notably the Progressive Jewish community, along with a large number of high school students, Zionist youth organisations and university students.

The rejection of our application by the JCCV took a huge toll on our small group which led to the committee folding and the group going into hiatus. However I felt that the need for the group was still strong and maintained a vigilant telephone and email presence.

Operating on a shoestring budget, we continued holding functions in private homes and offered support as best as we could.

Around 2007 we felt that continuing on as a gay and bisexual men’s group was marginalising those in the community who were transgender and so after consulting our membership we elected to become fully inclusive, accepting anyone with a Jewish identity as a member, irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.

We also noticed a need to cater specifically to Jewish youth and so Young Aleph was formed in 2007. A dynamic leadership team and fun events saw packed attendances for weeks and weeks. Young Aleph was a hugely successful experiment that ran until approximately 2009.

The shooting at the Tel Aviv LGBT Centre on August 1 2009 was a turning point for Aleph Melbourne. The now-dormant Melbourne-based AJN Watch blog wrote some hideous commentary about this event, degrading and vilifying gay men in the process. As an advocacy group, Aleph Melbourne reached out to the JCCV and asked for their help to combat this intolerance.

Whilst no practical support was initially forthcoming, the JCCV eventually succumbed to strong pressure from Aleph Melbourne and in late 2009 formed a reference group to start investigating the needs of LGBTIQ Jews. The JCCV has since become an advocate for LGBTIQ inclusion and awareness.

Over the years Aleph Melbourne has attended Pride March, Mardi Gras, In One Voice / Concert in the Park, International Holocaust Remembrance Day events, and the Midsumma Festival.

We made a documentary in 2016 commemorating our 20 year anniversary (1995-2015). This short film has screened in many film festivals around Australia and overseas. Most notably it was included in the Belfast Human Rights Film Festival and the prestigious St Kilda Film Festival.

Whilst Aleph Melbourne has provided a safe space for same-sex attracted Jews for many years now, most recently we have seen an increase in the need for support for transgender and gender-diverse people.

Statements calling for respect for LGBTIQ people together with statements of support for marriage equality, from organisations like the JCCV, Maccabi Victoria and the National Council of Jewish Women, have paved the way for a greater level of acceptance for LGBTIQ people.

Aleph Melbourne continues to offer a home for those Jews who do not identify as heterosexual, who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, or who may identify outside the gender-binary.

The tide has turned in the Jewish community. We have come a long way since 1995 and look forward to an exciting 2018 and beyond.

Michael Barnett
Co-Convenor – Aleph Melbourne

Aleph Melbourne withdraws from tainted 2017 Midsumma Pride March

Regretfully Aleph Melbourne will not be participating in the 2017 Pride March due to Midsumma keeping News Corp Australia as a sponsor.  This breaks an annual tradition going back to 1997.

While News Corp journalists like Andrew Bolt, Mirada Devine and Rita Panahi are on a crusade to destroy transgender kids, the Safe Schools program and marriage equality, it is completely unacceptable for any LGBTIQ community organisation to accept money or in-kind support from them.

Thirteen-year old Tyrone Unsworth might not have had cause to take his own life if News Corp had not fuelled the fires of bigotry and intolerance.  If Midsumma want to partner with News Corp then it must accept responsibility for Tyrone’s tragic death.

“This is the second year that News Corp have been a supporter of Midsumma (Herald Sun logo was used last year).”

Midsumma (Nov 25 2016)

Sadly this is the second year that Midsumma have had News Corp as a sponsor.  Aleph Melbourne would not have participated in 2016 if this had become apparent at the time.

Aleph Melbourne calls on Midsumma to hold News Corp to account for their words and actions, along with returning any cash sponsorship or in-kind support.

Related media coverage

JOY 94.9FM – Nov 25 2016

6PM News

SameSame – Nov 25 2016
Community Upset At Midsumma’s News Corp Sponsorship

Herald-Sun – Nov 26 2016
Gay activist must apologise for this lie

SameSame – Nov 27 2016
OPINION: Enough, Everyone, Andrew Bolt Is No Transphobe

Biggest ever Jewish contingent at Pride March 2016

Melbourne’s Jewish Community came out in force on Sunday January 31 2016 to participate in the annual Pride March in St Kilda.  The largest contingent to date, this year saw community stalwarts Aleph Melbourne and the Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria joined by a strong presence from youth groups Habonim Dror, SKIF, Netzer and Hashomer Hatzair.  Members of AUJS and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria also marched in solidarity.

From 20160131 Pride March

Pride March celebrates the rich diversity of Melbourne’s LGBTIQ community.  Aleph Melbourne has participated every year since 1997.  The significant presence of Jewish youth groups in Pride March over the past three years shows that increasingly, young people are passionate about equality, inclusion, respect and social justice.