Heaven Bent

Heaven Bent coverHeaven Bent : Australian lesbian,gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex experiences of faith, religion and spirituality.

Edited by Luke Gahan and Tiffany Jones, with a foreword by Senator Louise Pratt,

Published September 2013, Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne.

paperback RRP: $29.95 | ISBN: 978-0-9874037-4-2 | 334 pp.

Listed below are the five contributors who have a Jewish connection.

David Rosenberg

Born in Jerusalem, David and his family moved to Australia when he was 3 months old. He grew up in a Jewish Orthodox community in Sydney and currently lives in close to his family in the prominent Jewish neighbourhood of Bondi Junction. When his community discovered his same-sex attraction, Rosenberg was sent to New Jersey USA to attend a Jewish ex-gay program known as ‘JONAH’ – Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality. Today, David and his husband Elcid are both active members of the Sydney Gay Jewish group ‘Dayenu’ and attend a Masorti congregation that welcomes all people no matter what their background or status. Rosenberg has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from the University of New South Wales and is currently undertaking a postgraduate degree in law. In January 2013 David and his partner officially became husbands, in a Jewish ceremony conducted by their Rabbi.

Ellen Kessler

Ellen migrated to Australia from the United States in 1989 on ‘Strong Humanitarian Grounds’ on the basis of her same sex relationship. Ellen has spent her life writing, and when her spiritual beliefs became more self-evident in 2007 she began connecting the two. Although she does not invest much conviction in the dogma of Judaism, it is undeniable that her Jewish faith, and in turn the mysticism of the Kabbalah, has helped her to develop personally and spiritually. Ellen now lives in Brunswick Victoria and works as a community development officer in the western suburbs.

Sally Goldner

Sally Goldner has been an active participant in Melbourne’s queer community for the last fifteen years. This includes ongoing involvement with TransGender Victoria, Radio 3CR’s “Out of the Pan,” Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, and Bisexual Alliance Victoria. Previous involvement includes PolyVic, Zoe Belle Gender Centre, BENT TV and Seahorse Club of Victoria. She is the focus of an autobiographical documentary “Sally’s Story” and was noted in The Age’s Top 100 most creative and influential people in Melbourne in 2011. She is also a spoken word performer and stand-up comedian. Brought into the world via two Jewish parents, Sally describes herself as ‘technically Jewish.’ An incredibly diverse range of religious and spiritual experiences has enriched her life. As a teenager, Sally attended the all-boys Brighton Anglican Grammar School in Melbourne and while at university Sally joined the Australian Union of Jewish Students on a tour of Israel and became deeply fascinated by the Bahá’í Faith. Sally has given an address at the Metropolitan Community Church in Melbourne and has a connection to Wiccan and Pagan Spirituality.

Kevin Ekendahl

Kevin Ekendahl is the Liberal Party candidate for the federal seat of Melbourne Ports. Often known as the “Bagel Belt” of Melbourne, the electorate sees the conservative Jewish communities living next door to a growing LGBTI community. The clash between religion and the secular is central to the spiritual journey of Kevin – a Jewish man who was baptised Catholic at age seven. Kevin’s maternal grandparents left the Franco religious dictatorship of Spain to seek freedom in Australia. His grandparents struggle for secular government and freedom of choice had an incredible impact on Kevin’s spiritual and political journey. Ekendahl has an incredible sense of spirituality and while at high school he was a member of ‘The Solidarity of Our Lady’ – a group run by the more religious students. Kevin’s family afforded him the choice to choose his own path in life – a value that he desires to share with the people of Melbourne Ports.

David L Shmerler

Dr David L Shmerler PhD is the Director of Psychological Services and the outgoing Director of the pre-doctoral Internship Training program at Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn, New York. Dr Shmerler also maintains a private clinical practice in Manhattan where he specializes in work with the LGBT community. Additionally, Dr Shmerler has substantial experience working with HIV+ individuals, through both his past affiliation with clinical research programs and current provision of training to the Kings County psychology trainees. As part of the didactic seminar series on cross-cultural treatment issues, Dr Shmerler provides annual training on clinical work with LGBT individuals. Dr Shmerler is an out gay, Jewish man and is engaged to be married to Dr Eric Rodriguez, his co-author and long-term partner of over twelve years.

Understanding the Pink Triangle | samesame.com.au

Understanding the Pink Triangle | samesame.com.au.

SYN Media: GLBTIQ and multifaith opportunities

SYN Media has a vacancy for the Queer Youth on Air program that is set to get underway in 2013.
Are you curious about making radio and your own unique media?
Check out the exciting opportunity for same sex attracted and gender diverse young people at SYN.
Apply now!
this is a short extension to our previous deadline, so get your application in ASAP!
If you have any questions please email me anytime or call me on Tuesday 15 January 2013 on 9925 4192.

We are also holding an information session for the existing multifaith program, Unscriptured, on Wednesday 16 January 2013.

Interested young people aged 12 – 25 are invited to come along to an information session on Wednesday 16 January from 4pm at SYN.
To register, email access@syn.org.au
We would love you to join us at SYN so please feel free to call or email me to find out more.
kind regards,

Danae Gibson
Access Programming Coordinator
Student Youth Network Inc.

Book NOW for SYN Media Learning in 2013

Direct Line: 03 9925 4192
E-mail: access@syn.org.au  | Web: www.syn.org.au

Queer @ Jewish International Film Festival 2012

The 2102 Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF) has a couple of Queer offerings.

Dead Europe


Limmud Oz 2012 – June 9-11: The Queer Sessions

Limmud Oz - Festival of Jewish Learning & Culture

Full programme (PDF)


Time Description
5:30pm – 6:30pm A Progressive Alternative to Halakhic Deliberation
Social issues
The founding philosopher of the Reconstructionist movement Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan was fond of saying, “The past has a vote, not a veto.” Progressive Jews have often given the past a veto instead because we lack alternative tools for analysing religious and ritual problems from a contemporary perspective. This workshop will provide an introduction to Value-Based Decision Making and apply its teachings to the hot-button contemporary question of Jewish weddings for gay and lesbian couples.
Shoshana Kaminsky


Time Description
10:45am – 11:45am Pride and Tolerance in Jerusalem
Jerusalem is the most religious city in the world with an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender) centre. Learn more about the struggle for equality of the Jerusalem Open House, the LGBT center in Jerusalem – a small organization that withstood unprecedented attack by Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders.
Noa Sattath
9:30am – 10:30am
Homosexuality and Judaism
Social issues
Throughout history, bigotry cloaked in religious idealism has been at the heart of campaigns against minority groups of all backgrounds including gay people, and sexual orientation continues to be one of the most contentious issues facing society even a decade into the 21st century. But is there an authentic view supported by Judaism? Join Rabbi Yaakov Glasman as he sensitively addresses this most important question facing our community today.
Yaakov Glasman