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JCCV, GLBT, and all the rest of us!

October 29, 2010 – 7:42 am242 Comments

By Malki Rose

At the JCCV Plenum meeting in May 1999, delegates, non-delegates and rabbis spoke with impassioned fervour on the question of whether or not to admit Aleph, Melbourne’s only Gay Jewish group, into the protective shade of the JCCV umbrella. After more than two hours of heated discussion, voting took place and the results were 46 against and 39 for Aleph Melbourne affiliating with the JCCV. The motion was lost.

Two years ago Johnny Baker wrote an editorial piece in the AJN, in which he called for the dissolution of the JCCV, on the grounds that perhaps they were no longer sufficiently effective for the changing needs of the Jewish Community. Several others, including myself, wrote letters and spoke with the JCCV questioning whether ALL Jews were being supported in the community. They felt the JCCV’s approach to inclusiveness to be sorely lacking.

But two years on and a whirlwind of change and positivity has swept through the corridors of Beth Weizmann, with one of the community’s most contentious issues being placed firmly at the forefront the JCCV’s agenda of Jewish community concerns. In recent months, Mr John Searle, JCCV’s president, has established a Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (GLBT) reference group to gauge the needs of GLBT Jews in Victoria.

“While we are not in a position to argue or change where Jewish Law stands on these issues, we are most certainly in a position as a community structure to decipher, through this reference group, what sort of discrimination and vilification GLBT Jews are being subjected to by the rest of the Jewish Community, and figure out ways to combat this”, Mr Searle stated.

“While we at the JCCV, and certainly in my time as chairman of the ADC, are always combating any vilification perpetrated against the Jewish Community as a whole, we also recognise that there are plenty of internal issues within our community which need tackling as a matter of priority”.

We are indeed blessed to already have the Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence in Melbourne, which has been assisting families and individuals in our community by offering support, counselling or refuge from family violence situations.

Last year, the JCCV also set up the Youth Alcohol Project and has been working with our schools to combat issues like teenage binge drinking, something to which Jewish kids are certainly not immune.

Mr Searle said that the GLBT reference group, comprising of a mix of individuals who had approached him with their concerns, also seeks to gauge the mental health concerns and risks, which young GLBT Jews may be facing.

Thus far, the reference group, which includes a qualified psychologist, has noted that there are relatively few instances of discrimination or vilification being perpetrated against GLBT Jews by ‘straight’ Jews.

Perhaps it is possible that smaller numbers of openly gay Jews equates to less instances of vilification or discrimination?

In speaking with Mr Searle, I suggested that some of the discrimination and exclusionary behaviour may also be too subtle to measure and also far more prevalent in the Orthodox community where the Halachic concerns play a stronger role in the community’s treatment or subtle exclusion of GLBT Jews.

Many GLBT Jews, having been excluded by the Jewish community as deviant or ‘people best avoided’, become disenfranchised and abandon the Jewish Community, seeking solace in the potentially more accepting embrace of the non-Jewish GLBT community, whose inclusiveness seems much more all encompassing.

The problem of course with this is that they are then by default left with a sense of disconnection from their Judaism itself. Such disconnection from one’s identity, cultural roots, family and community can lead to the slippery slope of malaise and low self-esteem. This could be a trigger, which ultimately results in disengagement and even severe depression.

According to Mr Searle, a key aim of the reference group is to work at a grassroots level with Jewish Schools to ensure that when these issues of sexual identity begin, as they do in adolescence, that the schools are equipped with the proper resources and support. That they are able to provide counselling on this specific issue and create a safe and protective environment for teens grappling with their sexuality.

“This is the outset and we have to ensure that teens in this situation do not fall through the cracks and become isolated. Surely it would be isolating enough to already feel different and unable to talk about this with one’s family and peers,” Mr Searle stated.

A recent programme on 60 minutes documented a Victorian Secondary school, Princes Hill Secondary College, which has been the first, hopefully of many, to have an openly encouraging policy towards gay and lesbian students. More than ten of the students spoke to camera, describing with broad and genuine smiles, the joy they experience in being able to come to school each day as their best and truest selves and flourish in a nurturing and supportive environment and without threats to their self-esteem.

The question is whether or not Jewish Schools would ever consider partaking in GLBT reference programmes or engaging with the JCCV’s reference group – at least in the interests of mental health.  This is not a halachic issue, and as Mr Searle mentioned to me, not within his or the JCCV’s reach to be able to effect change on halacha. This is simply about compassion, support and protection. The JCCV was set up as an umbrella organisation to protect the needs of all Jews in the Victorian Jewish community. This reference group is a wonderful step in being able to effectively create this support and protection.

More than 10% of teenagers find themselves facing sexual identity issues and some of them are Jews, some of them are your kids or at the very least, someone else’s, some of them are in Jewish schools, and all of them need to feel supported by their community.

When a Jewish community forum was held to discuss the pressing and urgent issue of sexual abuse in the community, one Jewish school chose to be noticeably absent from the event and from participating in any way; the ostrich approach.

For the JCCV to be able to combat the internal issues of this community, whether they be youth alcohol abuse, family violence or mental health, it is clear that prevention is markedly easier and better than cure, and this will require cooperation and support from all sectors of the community.

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242 Comments »

  • Ittay says:

    Hi Malki,
    The Union for Reform Judaism in America has compiled a list of 18 ways Jewish communal organisations can make GLBT feel more welcome. It would be great to see the JCCV endorse this list, or send it out to all their affiliates.

    18 Ways to Make Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Members Feel Welcome in Your Congregation

    1. Develop a Shabbat service and sermon to educate and sensitize congregants about gay and lesbian issues. Consider having a panel of congregants at the oneg to discuss how LGBT issues affect their congregational and personal lives.

    2. Phrase your congregational publicity in a way that is inviting to all people. Advertise your congregation’s services and events in local LGBT publications.

    3. When planning singles’ activities, recognize that not all single congregants are looking for a partner of the opposite gender.

    4. Appreciate that one who appears “single” may have a partner or spouse of the same gender.

    5. Design your membership and school forms to be welcoming to a spouse/partner of either gender1. Two men or two women living together may represent an established home or family. Make sure ALL of your forms, such as new member applications, school registration forms and committee applications, are welcoming to and inclusive of LGBT members. Many forms use the terms Husband and Wife, or Father and Mother. Instead, try remaining neutral using “Adult 1″ and “Adult 2″ or “Member 1″ and “Member 2.” On school forms use “Parent 1″ and “Parent 2.” When defining relationships don’t forget to include the mention of “Partnership” or “Other.” Here is a great example of a wonderful Membership Application.

    6. In addition to “single” or “married,” offer “committed relationship” or “partnered” as a membership category.

    7. Be open in your community to sharing in the joy of same gender commitment and wedding ceremonies by encouraging couples to host an oneg Shabbat in their honor and include a mazel tov in your temple bulletin.

    8. Publicize and celebrate the anniversaries of all committed couples. When LGBT families observe life cycle events in the congregation, make sure to consult with them about who should be included.

    9. Substitute “parent(s)/guardian(s)” on your religious school forms, for “mother and father.” Teach your students and congregants about the many models of diversity in Jewish families.

    10. In all your congregational advertising, make sure that the LGBT population is specifically welcomed at all congregational events.

    11. Honors belong to the entire congregational membership. Make sure that gays and lesbians are honored at services (i.e., opening the ark, reading a prayer or other passage, or lighting the Shabbat candles).

    12. Acknowledge homosexual victims of the Holocaust at Yom Hashoah services.

    13. Include gay and lesbian concerns related to employment rights and benefits, adoption, military service, health issues, etc. in the congregation’s social action agenda.

    14. Make sure that gay and lesbian members are represented on committees and are encouraged to participate fully in congregational leadership.

    15. Offer a program for the parents and families of gays and lesbians to draw them closer to your community, to increase understanding, support and awareness for them and to educate and sensitize your members. If there are openly LGBT members in your congregation, ask for their suggestions to make your congregation more welcoming to LGBT singles, couples and families. Encourage them to get involved with the membership committee to help your congregation identify and address these issues.

    16. Include specific LGBT content in your social, cultural, and educational programs, i.e., screen and discuss a film such as “Yossi and Jagger 2” in your congregation’s Jewish film festival.

    17. Comfort those who have lost a partner, child, parent or friend to AIDS and encourage them to mourn communally.

    18. Create a list of community resources serving the gay and lesbian
    community 3.

    1 The Life-Cycle of Synagogue Membership, URJ Books and Music
    2 Search for “Yossi and Jagger” on http://www.Amazon.com
    3 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Inclusion, Union for Reform Judaism, http://urj.org/cong/membership/diversity/glbtq/.

  • There is no allowance for any dissent on this issue in any manner or form. Every single time anyone tries to state any misgivings about homosexuality from any perspective, religious or not, that person is vilified, demonised, abused, harassed, and slandered by the gay activists. What they fail to comprehend is that their despicable disrespect for anyone who has even a slightly different view to theirs does immense damage to their cause. They are marginalised because of their mean-spiritedness, their lack of tolerance and refusal to engage in a civil discourse on any level. They repel people whose minds do not change in favour of the gays but rather, quite the opposite. People simply recoil and decide to keep their opinions to themselves rather than risk public humiliation and the wrath of viscous bitter venemous gay activists.

  • Very interesting, Malki! This reminds me of my Habo days, when I continually pushed to get Habo represented at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi-Gras, and was continually told that our presence there would be inappropriate and would only deter parents from sending their children to the movement. Not even five years after I left and Habo was there in full force, either on “Dayenu” or in the grandstands wearing chultzot. That wasn’t in any way thanks to me, but I was very pleased nonetheless :)

    It sounds like this is a general trend, and one which mirrors the developments taking place in broader society. As it becomes more socially acceptable to be gay, the number of young people who identify as homosexual is increasing, the number of “confirmed old bachelors” is declining away to nothing, and the amount of institutionalised recognition for the problems faced by the GLBT community is on the rise. Let the halakha remain a secondary concern: the interests of social equality should trump any confessional approach to Judaism, which belongs in the synagogue community and not on the street.

  • Malki,

    Dracula is running the Jewish Blood Bank.

    Michael.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Yasher Koach Malki – great piece! and yasher koach to the JCCV for its GLBT reference group. Our community schools are great – at their best they provide our kids with Jewish content, and a strong sense of belonging and identity. But my sense as a parent with kids at two different big Jewish schools is that they tend to be a little homogeneous. We should welcome any initiatives to support kids who don’t quite fit the mould – particularly but not only in terms of their emerging sexuality.
    My kids have on occasion said to me about someone at school that he/she is gay. We were generally talking about under 16s so my response used to be that they (the subjects of the discussion) are too young to know. On reflection and based on discussion with people who knew they were gay from a very young age (and reflecting also on my and my girlfriends’ obsession with boys at school from a pretty young age – we weren’t too young to know how very interested we were in boys!) , I think that saying they are too young to know whether or not they are straight is a form of denial and is cruel.

  • Ittay, yes, it would be great. I won’t be holding my breath under the current regime however.

    Simon, I agree.

  • Mandi,

    Before you start heaping praise on the JCCV, you should know that they have been extremely disingenuous in this process and I believe they have a not so altruistic reason for establishing this reference group.

    The JCCV has EXCLUDED THE ENTIRE GLBT COMMUNITY in having set up this reference group.

    The JCCV has EXCLUDED ME from this reference group. I have been fighting for over 11 years for GLBT visiblity and equality in the Jewish community. If anyone knows the issues, I am a person to talk to about this.

    The JCCV has been ANTI-PROGRESSIVE/REFORM on this matter. They deny that the Progressive community is truly Jewish and they won’t acknowledge the Progressive community’s acceptance of GLBT people.

    The JCCV has set up the GLBT reference group to show the Victorian Multicultural Commission it is being “inclusive” of GLBT people, so it is not denied future funding, which was threatened to happen if it was not seen to be doing something like this.

    The JCCV is not inclusive of GLBT people. The JCCV has divided the community and has EXCLUDED GLBT PEOPLE.

    The JCCV is currently the worst nightmare in the community for same-sex attracted Jews who are struggling with their sexuality.

    Call me on 0417-595-541 if you want more information.

    Michael.

  • frosh says:

    Michael,

    How much of your comments here stem from your personal vendetta against the JCCV and their president?

    I ask this, because I have had emails come across my desk, written by gay members of the Jewish community, who in no uncertain terms claim that the main problem is not the JCCV nor their president, but in fact your own personal conduct (representing Aleph) toward them.

  • Atoz says:

    Malki

    Who is on this GLBT committee establsihed by JCCV. I’m a gay Jewish male and haven’t heard of this committee. I wonder when they will come out of the closet and be identified.

  • Frosh,

    Are you trying to discredit my efforts?

    I have no vendetta against the JCCV, least especially because of what happened in 1999. I have learnt lessons and moved on from that experience.

    I do have a vendetta against homophobia and those who uphold it.

    Why should you believe the JCCV over me?

    Michael.

  • frosh says:

    Michael,

    Re-read my comment.

    I have had no contact with the JCCV on this issue.

    My comment is based on feedback from gay members of the Jewish community.

    That you don’t see this new initiative as positive might suggest to people that you are putting yourself and your own broigus ahead of the issue.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Atoz,
    I asked Mr Searle about the identity of the individuals comprising the reference group, but at this stage he must respect their privacy and wish to remain unnamed.

    Having said that, I am aware of one individual who IS in the reference group, not due to any mentioned on Mr Searle’s part, but from another source.

    I assure you that there are many Gay Jews, like yourself, who have not heard of this reference group, primarily because they are not ‘recruiting members’ but was established from a group of individuals who approached the JCCV with concerns. It is not a social group. I do believe it’s important that its existence is known. This way the community is able to support any initiatives the GLBT reference group pursues. I am sure you agree.

    Michael,
    I know you have been faced with many obstacles from different quadrants over the years, and certainly reading the transcript of the May 99 plenum meeting it is clear that this has been an arduous battle for some time.

    But i don’t think that they have excluded the WHOLE GLBT community from the reference group, because the group IS in fact comprised of individuals from the GLBT Community. Obviously the entire GLBT community would not be invited to come on board as it is not a social support group, just a reference group.

    I believe it is a question of good faith, and rather than assuming that everything being undertaken by the JCCV is insidious or disingenuous, it seems like a positive step and one we should allow a chance to succeed before assuming the attack position.

    Ittay,
    These 18, (or ideas for ‘Chai’ perhaps?) are marvellous and assumably one day this community would be at a place to incorporate these ideas into community life, at least to some extent.
    But this community is small and extremely adverse to change. We have seen this in the great Kashrut battle amongst other things.
    You’ll remember from the discussions at my Limmud Oz panel session, that while there is clearly a shift towards pluralism and inclusiveness, we still have to face a fair amount of resistance from the quadrants who are afraid of thinking outside the box, or considering new ideas. Luckily, initiatives like Limmud are generating thinking and encouraging inclusiveness. So hopefully, although we appear miles from those 18, we are on the way.

    Simon,
    It’s true, the halachic issue needs to be secondary, although I do believe very strongly that it needs to be addressed. As I mentioned in the piece there are so many gay Jews who abandon their yiddishkeit only due to being refused entry to the Jewish community. These people AND the Jewish community will inevitably need to find a way to reconcile Halacha and their sexual identity. Or else one or the other is lost.
    As you’ve said this is primarily a social justice issue. The Jewish institutions need to find ways to be inclusive of GLBT Jews as a matter of compassion and Ahavat Yisrael.

    Mandi,
    exactly as you say, for schools to refuse to enter into the discussion on the grounds of “they are too young to know if they are really gay”, is a form of cruel denial. The assumption that every teenager is straight, without any recourse for an alternative situation, creates an immediately isolating environment for the GLBT kid. This IS what is happening in Jewish schools. I think to take a page out of Princes Hill Secondary’s book would be a place to start.

  • Atoz says:

    Malki

    Thank you for your comments.

    However in my opinion this group cannot truly considered itself to be a representative group of the GLBT if they remain closeted. What is this group meant to do or be? If these “represenatives” wont identify themselves then how can the Jewish gay members contact them to discuss their concerns issues etc? Does the JCCV suggest I do a google search? This secrecy reinforces the disconnect many Gay Jews have with their community.

    Atoz

  • Malki Rose says:

    I agree Atoz, so hopefully in due course the identities, or at least a handful of them, will be made known. Until then, their privacy and right to anonymity must be respected.

    I don’t believe the GLBT reference group is claiming to be representative of anyone.
    It is just COMPRISED of a mix of people. They have not issues any public statements, made any broad claims of being representative of the Jewish GLBT community.

    In fact, I do not believe there is a Jewish GLBT community as such. But rather a series of disconnected GLBT Jews, who may or may not be involved in a series of affiliated and non affiliated organisations. It is important to remember that many GLBT Jews identify as Jews primarily and as Gay secondarily. Not everyone is the other way round.

    It is important to remember that the reference group was not set up as an organisation to involve the rest of the community. It is a starting point for discussion.

    There are obviously hundreds of GLBT and non-GLBT Jews missing from discussions with the reference group, so I believe it is best to assume that when it becomes appropriate to open up the floor for further broader discussion then invitations will be made to the wider GLBT and non-GLBT community for involvement.

    Obviously no real change can be effected without the involvement of the wider community as I have mentioned.

    This requires patience. Let’s see what the reference group comes up with and how they move forward to start dialogue with schools and other community institutions.

  • Atoz says:

    Malki,

    Perhaps I used the word “community” too broadly when referring a Jewish GLBT community.

    Then may I ask again what is the point of this group as you state that this group has not “issued any public statements, made any broad claims of being representative of the Jewish GLBT community.” You claim that it is a starting point for discussions. Why can’t we be informed of these discussions if indeed any have taken place. This group was established sometime earlier this year in response to some severe criticism of JCCV by Michael Barnett. Whatever one may think of Michael ( and I have at times vehemently disagreed with his language and ways of doing things) he has at least out there publicly not hiding and dealing with any criticism that comes his way unlike this reference group hiding in their closets.

    I have been informed of the identities of the majority of the members and the overwhelming majority of them are married ostensibly straight. Whilst they have suitable professional qualifications none involve dealing with the issues of being gay and Jewish. All members are gay and male.

    I have this feeling that this reference group is a group you have when you want to make others believe that the community is addressing the issues but in reality you are hoping that the issue will go away without anything being done to address the issues. The gay issues are just like how the wider Jewish community in Melbourne deals with issues such as sexual and domestic abuse, alcoholism illegal drug abuse and I can go on and on it, with its head in the sand and arse in the air.

  • Atoz says:

    There is typo in the last sentence of the third paragraph. It should read all the other members are gay and male.

  • Malki Rose says:

    From what I understand, the group is ostensibly 50/50, male and female. And that is from knowing one of the people in the group.

    I of course commend Michael, he has worked tirelessly for years with this cause. But Atoz you must acknowledge that not everyone is in the position to do this, nor does everyone want or feel the need to fight or champion. This does not make them cowards, and neither I nor you are in a position or within your right to judge their reasons for not being able to disclose their identity. Everyone functions differently.

    It is a shame, because I would have thought anyone alleging to be concerned for the GLBT cause would have sought to praise this initiative and give it a chance, rather than immediately seeking to find flaws and holes in it.

    If you don’t believe it will have any value, perhaps step aside, let others remain optimistic about the groups success and be ready with the ‘I told you so’ if it doesn’t.

  • Malki Rose says:

    It is also unfair Atoz that you claim that the Jewish community has “its head in the sand and arse in the air” with regard to issues of sexual abuse and drug and alcohol abuse.

    It suggests not only that you have NOT read my article, which makes clear reference to the work being done through both the Youth Alcohol Project and the ‘Jewish taskforce against family violence’, but it also suggests that you lack any awareness of the thousands of hours of work being done in the Jewish community in these regards by many many people.

    This is entirely unfair of you and does no justice to the causes at all.

  • Daniel says:

    Atoz is spot on. The phrase ‘reference group’ seems to be thrown around now as though it were an unanswerable response to a charge that the JCCV excludes GLBTIQ people. No one knows who’s a member, when or where (or indeed if) they meet, what issues they are addressing, what politics they profess, etc. You say, Malki, that the group is not indended to be representative. But insofar as it (allegedly) advises the JCCV on issues relating to the GLBTIQ Jewish communities, and insofar as the JCCV and its supporters point to the existence of the group as proof of its openness to queer Jews, it has effectively been interpellated as THE representative body for queer Jews. The complete lack of transparency in its founding makes this extremely problematic. Like Atoz, I am convinced that the creation of the group is nothing but a further, strategic attempt to shut up those problematic, trouble-making queers they are so afraid of.

  • Atoz says:

    Malki

    1. One of the members I believe is a transgendered woman and the other a female pyschologist. As far I have been informed the overwhelmingly majority are male. Perhaps my source is mistaken and I accept that possibility

    2. I agree with your comments contained in paragraph 2. Micheal Barnnet should be applauded and applauded quite loudly. Yes I also accept the fact to some or many I too am a coward in that I have not revealed my identity. However to that extent I don’t care.

    3. As a gay man should I pleased with an invitation to sit beside my masters as they feed me their leftovers? The gay members who refuses to identify themselves are just Uncle Toms. I would have more respect for the group if all was revealed. Would it be any different i if the JCCV set up a secretative reference group to discuss issues concerning Jewish women. No doubt you would be accepting of this. I doubt that. You would be making your views known. It is difficult to praise a secretive group and even you I think have difficulties in doing that. If the members were known then the GLBT and general Jewish community can make their views known. I want a better Jewish community where all members can feel welcome within their faith. I hate telling people I told you so. It so negative.

  • frosh says:

    While I do agree that the members of the reference group ought to be openly known…

    Does any one else see irony in people commenting under pseudonyms criticising others for their anonymity?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Daniel/Atoz – and this are real questions because I know very little about the reference group – are you aware of people wanting to be involved whio have been declined the right to participate by the JCCV? Or is the concern about the lack of awareness/profile of its existence and how one can become involved?

    Just trying to understand the issues.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I have spoken with Mr Searle about the notion of their anonymity and they recognise the difficulty with this. I think you need to recognise that this in not like any other initiative set up in this community before, and it would behoove you to remember that this is an enormously sensitive and private issue for many people.

    You are correct, no other committee is set up anonymously, because no other issue threatens to destroy peoples lives quite like being pre-maturely outed due to pressure from individuals such as yourself. Your insistence that these people out themselves is what most would consider, what I am loathed to refer to as, bullying. So please desist.

    This is a sensitive issue as you know, it creates offshoot issues such as depression, suicide attempts, low self esteem, drug and alcohol abuse and general feelings of isolation.

    Please allow these individuals to do their level headed best without kicking them or the initiative in the guts. It deserves a chance. I shan’t enter into any further discussion regarding the individuals anonymity any further as I have already explained in more than sufficient detail that the group is, a) young and in its early stages b) anonymous until further notice, c) not representative or claiming to be representative.

    Once again if you have no faith in the initiative, then feel free to steer clear.
    The rest of us would like to wait and see.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Frosh – generally I agree that people who comment under pseudonyms have to cop being taken less seriously. But there are people who comment on this site from time to time in a most personal and unpleasant way and I dont blame anyone who doesnt want to have a named encounter with such folk, on this topic in particular.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I agree Frosh,

    Frankly, Atoz, it is not within your right as someone posting under a pseudonym to castigate some else for being anonymous.

    Mandi,
    Mr Searle, remarked to me that at this stage they are not looking to invite more people to get involved. That is not the nature of the reference group. They have what they believe to be a sufficient amount of people for their initial purposes. When it becomes appropriate to invite more people on board for the next stage of research, it is my understanding that they will do so.

  • Atoz says:

    Daniel:
    Thank you for your comments. As time goes on, I think I am becoming one of those problematic trouble making queers. The joys of old age.

    Frosh:

    I do see the irony in it all. However I am not claiming to represent the Jewish GLBT’s or even proffer advice to a secretive reference group of the JCCV. However there must be a degree of transparency as to the membership of a group that is claimed to offer advice on GLBT issues to JCCV. For all the community may know is that some members of this group based on their religious beliefs are clearly homophobic. Some of them even comment on this website. And I do enjoy listening to those who tell me love the person hate the sin. And yes some of my friends are straight and Jewish. (That is sarcasm for those missed it)

    Mandi

    Apart from Michael Barnett (perhaps I am being presumptive here) I am not aware of any person who may want to be a member of this group or declined membership. But it is difficult to nominate yourself when this group is so secretive. The group that does not speak its name. (Apologies to Oscar Wilde) Of course by its very nature of being secretive one can’t get involved.

    Malki.

    I have read your article. I still stand by my views that the Jewish community has its head in the sand and arse in the air. These problems don’t happen to “real Jews”. Of course It may be that you and I are generations apart.

    I would like to know how Mr Searle selected the gay members of the group. Does the JCCV have a secretive list of Jewish gays? Not all gay Jews are in the closet and I presume these members are not as well. I am not asking that that those who wish to remain closeted come out. But these people were selected to be representative of those who are Jewish GLBT. For the most part I agree it is bullying to out those who do not wish to be outed. However it is hypocritical for those who are gay and condemn the GLBT community. These people do deserve to be outed for their hypocrisy not their gayness.

    I thank you so kindly for reminding me that growing up gay and Jewish was such a bed of roses. You state that “this is a sensitive issue as you know, it creates offshoot issues such as depression, suicide attempts, low self esteem, drug and alcohol abuse and general feelings of isolation.” This is precisely what Michael Barnett has been saying. You are simply translating Michael’s words.

    See my comments to Frosh as to posting under pseudonym. I presume all posters on websites to use be anonymous until they actually disclose their own email address in their posts.

    Finally I think all of this is a total waste of time. The group is what that group is a nothingness. I will try to restrain myself from commenting further.

  • At one stage Ruth Kweitel sat on the reference group. I blogged about her here. Sadly another person poisoned by the JCCV.

    I have written a number of blogs on the reference group, including who is/was on it. Read here.

    Malki, as a person who does not identify as GLBT I respectfully ask you do not attempt to speak on our behalf and tell us how we identity.

    Michael.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Michael,
    I have not claimed even once to speak on anyone’s behalf.
    In the same way as I were to comment on Sumerians, Zionists, Kosher Australia, Alcoholics or stakeholders in the Melbourne Cup, I like you and everyone else have every right to comment. As do you. This forum is for discusssion.

    Furthermore anyone who has any concern for Jewish or GLBT issues is well within their right to voice their concerns or support for any initiative.

  • Michael Brull says:

    The JCCV’s rejection of Aleph is utterly scandalous and disgraceful. This does not come close to remedying the rejection of the only gay group that has applied for affiliation with the JCCV. Frankly, I think the AJDS should withdraw from the JCCV until it becomes open to LGBT identifying groups.

    I also think it is utterly ridiculous for Mr Searle to say the JCCV will be in a position to understand discrimination and intolerance faced by the LGBT community because of a “reference” group, when it has refused to let the LGBT community speak for itself.

    Finally, I’d like to comment on the claim “Thus far, the reference group, which includes a qualified psychologist, has noted that there are relatively few instances of discrimination or vilification being perpetrated against GLBT Jews by ‘straight’ Jews.”

    This just shows what a joke the whole thing is. Admittedly, I live in Sydney, not Melbourne. Yet I doubt things are that different. I went to Moriah not so many years ago. Most graduates around the time that I did would have read an impassioned email by Judd Weinberg about the terrible damage of the rampant homophobia done to people who don’t identify as heterosexual at Moriah. Of course, I didn’t experience homophobia – I’m not gay. That’s why the whole idea of a reference group is a bad joke. This is a figleaf for the JCCV to appear more progressive than it is, when it has taken an appalling position on the LGBT community.

  • frosh says:

    “Of course, I didn’t experience homophobia – I’m not gay. ”

    Michael (Brull), I’m not sure how that sentence added value to your comment.

  • Malki,

    In fact, I do not believe there is a Jewish GLBT community as such. But rather a series of disconnected GLBT Jews, who may or may not be involved in a series of affiliated and non affiliated organisations. It is important to remember that many GLBT Jews identify as Jews primarily and as Gay secondarily. Not everyone is the other way round.

    This really isn’t helpful, or accurate, as much as you might have hoped it would be.

    One’s sexual orientation or gender identity (note the use of the word ‘identity’) is innate, as I’m sure you appreciate. To say that people don’t identify primarily with their sexual orientation or gender identity is nonsense. Much like someone saying they are more Jewish than female, or more Jewish than male, or more Jewish than heterosexual.

    People may choose to identify with one particular community over another but no one can accurately say they are more Jewish than they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It just doesn’t make sense.

  • Frosh,

    That you don’t see this new initiative as positive might suggest to people that you are putting yourself and your own broigus ahead of the issue.

    What are you basing this assumption on?

    Don’t you find the attitude of the JCCV, to exclude the most vocal proponent of GLBT equality and visibility in the Jewish community, just a little perplexing?

    This goes to the fact that the JCCV is scared to say anything to distance themselves from the Orthodox community, as I’ve blogged ad infinitum.

    Searle said to me “Judaism has a specific stance on homosexuality”. I responded with “You mean Orthodox Judaism. Progressive Judaism is accepting of homosexuality”. It was at this point when I sought a clarification from Searle on this topic that he issued a statement advising I was trying to undermine the JCCV and refused to engage me further.

    I was not trying to undermine the JCCV. I wanted a simple acknowledgement that the Progressive community was overwhelmingly accepting of homosexuality. Searle cannot bring himself to acknowledge that Progressive Judaism is a valid expression of Judaism and so he put up a smoke-screen. And by implying a segment (the Orthodox) are entitled to not accept homosexuality is full of hate and intolerance. That is not leadership, that is cowardice and reeks of bigotry.

    This entire process sickens and disgusts me. The politics is vile. The way they play with our lives is revolting. The whole process is just repulsive.

    The JCCV is the most irrelevant, outdated, homophobic, out of touch organisation in the Victorian Jewish community. It is shameful and it is destructive.

    There may be good people doing good work in the organisation, but the way it is run and the power and politics it wields are harmful beyond belief.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    At the risk of further vilification and abuse from Michael Barnett, I will say that the vote should tell you something. It is not about gay people being discriminated against. It is about one or two ‘gay’ people bullying and vilifying those who do not agree with their lifestyle. We are not talking about abusing gay people or homosexuals but simply stating, while they are a part of every community,and should be treated with respect as human beings, their lifestyle goes against the ‘norm’. And for those of us who live their lives according to halacha, it is not the most desirable way to lead one’s life and is not what any mother or father would wish for their child. It is not about discrimination. It is about the refusal of a majority of the community to accept an oddball and perverse lifestyle.
    Shabbat Shalom

  • Malki Rose says:

    Wonderful,

    We’ve now heard ad nauseum how revolting everyone is.

    Now is there any way that we can move forward and not make this about politics or past disgruntlements but rather about helping GLBT Jews on a grassroots level? together? now? regardless of what has happened in the past?

    I am a fan of supporting the reference group until such time as it proves to not be useful and am keen to hear from others regarding ways in which the community might be able to work with the reference group or even the JCCV itself to deal with some of the mental health issues, villification and discrimination issues on a practical level. i.e. through programs in schools for starters as Mr Searle stated is their first agenda item.

    I look forward to reading some positive and constructive comments after Shabbat.

  • Michael Brull says:

    Frosh: The point seemed obvious to me. A straight person saying they haven’t experienced homophobia doesn’t mean *anything*. The obvious point is to find out how gay people perceive the community response. Speaking on behalf of the gay community is ridiculous. It’s like getting a bunch of middle aged men to evaluate whether sexism is a problem in the Jewish community, and they say, nope things are fine. Who cares what they think. Obviously I would have perceived things differently growing up if I was gay. And I don’t think anyone should compromise on this – I think any organisation that boycotts LGBT groups should be boycotted itself.

  • Malki,

    Now is there any way that we can move forward and not make this about politics or past disgruntlements but rather about helping GLBT Jews on a grassroots level? together? now? regardless of what has happened in the past?

    You wrote an article and put it on Galus Australis for public consumption. I am a vital part of this discussion, whether you or anyone else likes it or not. I will continue to fight homophobic (etc) intolerance and bigotry in the community whether there’s a JCCV reference group or not. This reference group has been formed in the most distasteful and unprofessional manner possible.

    The irony is that it has has excluded the very people it claims are harmed by exclusion in the community.

    For what it’s worth, a bunch of young people in the USA suicided in the last few weeks because of bullying and intolerance from their religious communities. Check out the It Gets Better Project to find out more about it.

    I have been pressing the JCCV for a very long time to issue a statement that says any intolerance of homosexuality is harmful to the mental health of young people. I am not inventing this fact. It is proven in current Australian research. I even wrote a piece about it entitled “Confronting the last Taboo – Orthodox Judaism and Homosexuality
    for Galus Australis just one year ago, before the reference group was formed.

    In the past twelve months, despite constant correspondence to the JCCV, they have not issued a single statement to this effect. They have deflected the problem to “people in the GLBT community” (although just recently Geoffrey Zygier of the JCCV said this wording could have been better when I challenged him on it, but then failed to revise the media release it was contained in).

    If the JCCV is so keen to make a difference in the Jewish day schools (all of them, or just the ones that don’t take religion “seriously”?) then I put the challenge to the JCCV: Issue a statement advising the community of the harm intolerance of homosexuality causes.

    When that happens I will start to take the JCCV seriously in its efforts to combat homophobia.

    For the record, I have never one said anything against any positive initiative the JCCV intends to undertake in the community. However I take exception to it’s lack of sensivity on the matter, lack of consultation, desire to do it “behind closed doors” and refusal to engage the community on the process.

    Do you understand why I might feel jaded and sceptical?

  • The more I read this stuff the more outrageous it all sounds.

    Mr Searle, remarked to me that at this stage they are not looking to invite more people to get involved. That is not the nature of the reference group. They have what they believe to be a sufficient amount of people for their initial purposes. When it becomes appropriate to invite more people on board for the next stage of research, it is my understanding that they will do so.

    Research? FFS. What is this reference group trying to do? They are not academics. They are volunteers who are out of their depth in area they don’t belong.

    The Nazis did ‘research’ on Jews. We don’t need research done on us. We need unconditional acceptance. If the reference group needs to do research to come to that conclusion then it shows what a pathetic situation this all is.

  • frosh says:

    Michael,

    Your comment equating the reference group to Nazis is a new low.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Ms Leeds,
    Luckily, this is not a discussion which required your or anyone else’s opinion as to whether or not homosexuality is against nature. This is a discussion about removing villiication and discrimination which does awful damage to GLBT Jews. Some of these individuals are people’s children and siblings and we would all like to see that they do not become isolated or depressed. I am sure you would like the same thing for them.

    Michael,
    In answer to your question, yes – I certainly do see why it is you might feel jaded and sceptical. You and the JCCV have many years of unpleasant history.

    But as I wrote to you previously, and as you have expressed to me on countless previous occasions… none of this is about you. This is about something much bigger and longerstanding than any of us.

    You need to remember why you started Aleph in the first place and not allow the hurt and pain to rule your decisions in this matter. Again, not saying that its not justified,
    it is just that it might be stopping you from seeing how this initiative could be something good.

    You say the initiative itself is exclusionary, I am not sure in what way. If it’s because they did not consult you, well that surely should have come as no suprise to you considering the harsh words that have been exchanged between you and Mr Searle in recent times. And surely the fact that you see the reference group as invalid or insufficient or run deceivingly suggests it is not really something you care to be a part of in any case.

    Whether the reference group contains people you deem to be appropriate or not remains to be seen, personally I believe that two of those people in particular are fine and outstanding individuals who deserve to be in the reference group. But regardless of what any of us think of the individuals in the group, what is important is that we give them a chance to give this a darn good chance.

    Everyone wants the same thing, but perhaps people do things in different ways, and we all need to respect that and not demand that they necessarily do things our way.

    Michael, it would be an awful thing to make the advent of the GLBT reference group a discussion about Mr Searle versus Mr Barnett, so this is the last thing I will say on this matter. I don’t think it is helpful to anyone, to get bogged down in the minutiae of politicking with the JCCV, been there, done that, not interested. If you disagree, then as I have said, step aside and let is play out and be ready with the ‘I told you so’s’.

    My interest in writing about this was to be constructive in supporting what I and many others believe to be an wonderfully promising initiative.

  • Akiva says:

    I find this article – and some of the commenters – unthinking ‘lumping’ of GLBT issues in with youth alcohol abuse and domestic violence issues quite revealing, and completely repugnant. Homosexuality is not a dark, shameful problem to be fixed.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Exactly right Akiva,
    Unfortunately the treatment of GLBT Jews in our community manifests in a similarly shaming way, despite homosexuality not being a syndrome, disease or dirty little secret. The reason it appears to be, as you say ‘lumped’ with them is because they are often treated AS IF they are people with syndromes or diseases. This is one of the key issues needing to be combatted.

  • Akiva says:

    and excuse me – but why are straight people speaking on behalf of GLBT people anyway? Even if they are supposedly getting their ‘market research’ from an anonymous GLBT focus group?

    The whole thing sounds deeply suspect. Anyone who suggests ‘that there are relatively few instances of discrimination or vilification being perpetrated against GLBT Jews by ‘straight’ Jews’ is talking absolute horses**t. As we all know, let’s face it. Unless the problems with homophobia I see riddled through the entire Sydney MO community are magically missing in Melbourne. so I must conclude that the push discussed in the article is largely for whitewashing purposes, and would potentially cause more damage than good.

    I find this article, although probably well-intentioned, utterly naive. And naivety is precisely what we *don’t* need in this situation.

  • Malki Rose says:

    No Akiva,
    What is more damaging more than anything else, is negativity. And sweeping assumptions. They are no help to anyone.

  • Akiva says:

    I’m sorry, but suggesting that this initiative is worthwhile in this manner is incredibly naive. The hostility you have aroused from those people who have engaged in this struggle actively is only to be expected and is completely understandable. You simply cannot speak for them. Ever. The community must start to understand that they cannot ‘grant’ their GLBT members that respect which should be theirs by natural right. The GLBT members can take it and insist on it themselves – and all the community can do is make themselves either more relevant, or entirely irrelevant in GLBT eyes.

    I understand that you mean well, but you really don’t appear to know what you’re doing with this.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Thank you for considered opinion Akiva.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Akiva – what you say may makes sense for adults (taking respect and insisting on it as a right) but not so much for school age people. And I suspect the only way schools will ever come to the party on this stuff (if at all) is likely to be through Jewish community supported initiatives.

    Also this article is important if for no other reason than it flushes out issues and provides a forum for critical discussion about the reference group.

  • frosh says:

    Akiva,

    Well done for maintaining your unblemished record of providing only negative comments on all topics on Galus Australis. Your predictability is somehow reassuring and comforting in these otherwise uncertain and troubling times.

    The author of the article has done considerable research in the course of writing this article, and yet you are patronising enough to repetitively call her naive, despite the fact that you cannot claim to have any familiarity with the people and organizations involved.

    And as always, it’s easy to throw the insults around from the safety of your pseudonym.

  • Akiva says:

    I speak with considerable and lengthy association with and experience in the GLBT community, both Jewish (in so much as it exists)and non-Jewish. I maintain that the article is both well-intentioned, but misplaced and naive.

    You would do better to aim your attacks at those commenters on this site who are either blatantly homophobic – and there are several.

  • At the risk of being vilified, harassed, demonised, abused, and slandered by venomous, viscous, bitter, intolerant, ignorant, closed minded, and vehemently hateful gay activists, here are my 2 cents from an article I once published in the AJN: http://www.dayenu.org.au/articles/2001.03.09_AJN_GayJewsWhoHasAPhobia.pdf

  • Akiva says:

    ….and right on cue……

  • rachsd says:

    Shoshana and Ilana,

    This discussion is about being inclusive and respectful of a substantial minority in the community. I can’t help but think when I read your comments that you have plagiarised copy from a Christian fundamentalist website.

    Akiva,

    First you said this: “and excuse me – but why are straight people speaking on behalf of GLBT people anyway?”

    Then you said: “You simply cannot speak for them. Ever.”

    And then: “I speak with considerable and lengthy association with and experience in the GLBT community”

    So are you the one exception to your own rule?

  • Akiva says:

    I identify as part of the GLBT community. And now we could perhaps focus on the actual issues at hand, rather than my own personal preferences, perhaps? As has been amply emphasized by other commentators, there are many reasons why people in my position wish to remain anonymous, and it is not you place as editor of this site to force them ‘out’.

    If you don’t like commenters to remain anonymous, then remove the option to be so from the site, instead of making people’s desire to remain so the focus of both yours and Frosh’s attacks on the threads.

  • Rachsd, Your slander of Ilana and me proves my point exactly! Instead of answering any of the points I raised with any semblance of reason you simply attack me as a person. This shows how morally bankrupt your cause is.

  • Akiva says:

    Michael Barnett –

    is your list (on your blog) of the members on the reference committee accurate? Less than half GLBT-identifying, no progressive JCCV reps, and (unless anonymous 7# is one), no lesbians, only one gay man, and possibly only one biological (straight) woman??

    If that list is accurate, what a farce indeed.

  • Akiva, at the time I wrote that blog I believe the list was correct. As the JCCV have refused to engage with the public on the matter, and have muzzled every member of the group, I have no way to know with any accuracy its composition.

    I repeat. The JCCV has acted in a completely unprofessional manner in this whole process.

    What this is about is the JCCV leadership wishing to remain IN CONTROL of the discussion about GLBT Jews in the community and excluding me from the process. The reason they want to exclude me is because they know I will EXPOSE THE HOMOPHOBIA AND INTOLERANCE that the JCCV supports in the ORTHODOX COMMUNITY. But that won’t stop me, and they’re doing a good enough job of it themselves. Momentum is building and they will be seen to be the hypocrits that they are soon enough.

    They want me outside the process because they are AFRAID TO BE SEEN TO BE INTOLERANT BY THEIR GOVERNMENT FUNDING SOURCES. Are you listening GEORGE LEKAKIS?

    Malki and all. Despite any good work the JCCV has in mind, it is not capable of having an iota of crediblity while it does not speak out against intolerance of homosexuality and actively TURNS A BLIND EYE TO THE INTOLERANCE OF ORTHODOX JUDAISM.

    Frosh, so be it re my new low. What value have you added to this discussion aside from attacking me at every chance?

    Akiva, thanks. You’re an asset. Oh, and I agree it is offensive in the extreme that the heterosexual men who are in control of this process think they can gain the trust of GLBT Jews (or any others who do not identify as GLBT but are struggling with their sexuality). I continue to be amazed that the person who heads this reference group has never once publicly made a single (positive) statement about his very out, very public gay nephew. That pretty much says it all.

    Michael.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Mandi,

    Just to return to your first comment about your kids being aware of other kids at school being gay. May I ask, delicately – without in any way threatening the anonymity of those concerned, whether there was any involvement on a school level to support them or what the reaction was from the rest of their peers.
    I ask this because I wonder if it might be helpful in terms of gauging to what extent there are already measures in place to support these kids from being isolated and also to understand whether the rest of the kids are supportive or discriminatory towards them.

  • Akiva says:

    Without knowing who is currently in the group it’s difficult to be sure – but it is concerning, to say the least, that the group’s history has included such a make-up, and that it has refused to utilize the resources of groups such as Aleph. If it was genuine in its stated claims, it would most certainly use them. There really is no valid excuse for not. And, why no progressives either?

    I remain convinced that the whole thing is deeply suspect.

  • The JCCV is currently led by Orthodox power players. They refuse to cooperate with or acknowledge the Progressive community, on equal terms, because they would lose the support of the Orthodox bloc, who do not believe Progressive Judaism is legitimately Jewish.

    I see the JCCV as a Zionist lobby group backed by the heavyweight Orthodox community. The ‘touchy feely’ stuff that it does, such as the alcohol abuse program and other similar stuff, perhaps including the GLBT reference group, is simply to try and give it some credibilty as a’community’ organisation, and as I said, to assist in getting it government grants.

    The fly in the ointment for the JCCV is the issue of homosexuality, because it is the one thing that it cannot deal with without upsetting the main people that it exists for, namely the Orthodox.

    It really is a sham(e).

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H
    rachsd
    I find your comments to be odd and coldly cynical abuse of people who may represent the ‘norm’ whatever that is in these warped and morally corrupt times.
    So every Orthodox Jew who lives by Halacha is aligned with Fundamentalist Christian groups. CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP, simply wonderful that we have people like you on board who can delegitimise Torah and all that it stands for and the thousands of years of tradition and laws. Absolutely amazing. Hitler would be delighted to have you over for morning tea and scones and you could discuss with him solutions to the ‘Jewish problem.’ You amaze me!
    There was also nothing the slightest offensive about my comment. You just do not like anyone disagreeing with you. Maybe you would want to turn this site into a ‘pat yourself on the back group’ we all agree to be little piggies and squeal loudly together if anyone dares disagree with out self centred, self obsessed view of the world.
    Oh and Shosh how dare we disagree with these people and support Torah Judaism because these people are the new wave and way to be. You and I and any other Jews who believe in Torah, we must all go back to our caves and wait for more tolerant times. This site’s name is definitely apt – Galut. I really think it is a waste of time, but one never knows. What are they going to do next, ritually slaughter us for not being gay and not supporting a gay lifestyle??
    I would not be surprised.

    [Eds: Well done Ms. Leeds, you’ve taken the lead from Mr Barnett in the Shoah trivialisation race. Any further comments from any commenter on this thread that trivialise the Shoah will be removed or withheld from publication].

  • Akiva says:

    I agree that it can’t have been set up to actually achieve anything unless
    a) it is willing to address the fact that there is a conflict with those that hold to Vayikra 18:22 and those who wish to see an end of homophobia within the community, with all the damage and harm it does to the young gay members of the community (disclose: I’m MO, but passage will not ever be part of my Torah) OR
    b) it is willing to jump above that altogether, and deal bluntly and quickly with the fact that it will be operating out of the religious sphere, and ignore objections raised by that sector of the community and plough along. I would think that this would involve using Aleph and Daiyenu, and being proud to do so.

    are either of these likely? I suppose that the second one might just be, but it doesn’t look promising. Certainly the various organisations have done nothing to indicate that they are prepared to do anything so brave. and there is a vast array of circumstantial evidence to suggest that they’re just interested in a public veneer.

  • Malki,

    You need to remember why you started Aleph in the first place and not allow the hurt and pain to rule your decisions in this matter. Again, not saying that its not justified,
    it is just that it might be stopping you from seeing how this initiative could be something good.

    1. I did not start Aleph Melbourne. It was formed in January 1995. I made first contact with the organisation in September 1995.

    2. I don’t appreciate when people try to tell me what my emotions are or why they think I behave in a particular way. I am not letting any “hurt and pain” get in the way of my fight against homophobic bigots.

    Michael.

  • “As distressing as the state of the American family is today with the high rate of divorce and adultery, the situation is far less stable among gays. This is not a slur against gays as individuals, but rather the reality of what occurs when you have what I call the all gas and no brake environment of male/male sexuality. I should know. I am a gay male.” – Talk show host Al Rantel.

    “I am not against gay people having solid lasting relationships. I just don’t think these can be called ‘marriages’ any more than a rose could be called a gardenia or vice versa notwithstanding that they’re both beautiful and sweet scented.” – Australian federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

    [Eds: Ms Silcove, either you are unable to understand the topic of Malki’s article, or you are wilfully ignoring it in the opportunity to express your opinion on what you perceive as the gay lifestyle. Further irrelevant comments of this nature lacking any context may be withheld from publication].

  • frosh says:

    Michael,

    If I am not mistaken, you consider teaching children about Judaism to be child abuse!

    Akiva, for all your numerous comments that you have left on this site, under a variety articles, one can only get the impression that you have only a strong negativity for Jewish culture and heritage. If you can point to a single comment of yours that demonstrates to the contrary, then please do.

    Given the contempt both of you demonstrate for most (if not all) things Jewish, then on what basis is there for the JCCV (or any other Jewish organization) to work with the likes of either of you?

    Furthermore Akiva, given that lack any sort of positive attitude toward Judaism, then it begs the question as to what your motivation is here other than to try to denigrate the Jewish community.

    The people with whom to takes thing forward are gay members of the Jewish community who are actually involved in the community, and most importantly, have respect for Judaism and a love for their Jewish culture, heritage, and Am Yisrael.

  • This looks like a step in the right direction on the part of the JCCV, and as such should be welcomed, and not immediately shot down for any and all of its deficiencies.

    They have wisely set aside the halachic issues associated with the GLBT lifestyle (which won’t be resolved easily), accepted the “facts on the ground” and moved toward more pragmatic matters. To me, this is a statement that a Jew is a Jew is a Jew, and no matter what our identity (sexual, political, or whatever), we are all part of a community.

    Michael,

    The issue of identity is a complex one. We all have many aspects to our identity: sexual, ethnic, political, etc. Everyone is entitled to theirs, and to prioritize one over another in the way they choose. For example, some people call themselves Australian Jews, others Jewish Australians. This is probably a worthy topic for separate discussion.

    As the most vocal person in the Jewish GLBT community, you may feel slighted that you are not part of the JCCV reference group. However, not everything that happens to you is because you are gay. It may just be because you are you.

  • Michael says:

    Ms Silcove writes:
    “Every single time anyone tries to state any misgivings about homosexuality from any perspective, religious or not, that person is vilified, demonised, abused, harassed, and slandered by the gay activists. What they fail to comprehend is that their despicable disrespect for anyone who has even a slightly different view to theirs does immense damage to their cause. They are marginalised because of their mean-spiritedness, their lack of tolerance and refusal to engage in a civil discourse on any level”

    Her AJN article describes homosexuality as an abomination, compares homosexuality to bestiality, and describes it as an “evil inclination”. (and homophobia is a “mythical disorder”, as she clearly demonstrates)

    It seems to me it would be difficult to satirise Ms Silcove.

  • rachsd says:

    Hi Akiva,

    I’m glad that when your line of questioning other peoples’ sexual identities was turned back onto you, you were able to recognize that rather than advancing the argument this line of questioning was more likely to either force people “out” or to silence some of the people who have the most to lose/ gain from this (same-sex attracted members of the Jewish community regardless of the extent to which they are out or ready to identify as glbt in an official capacity). That was the point that I was hoping to make and I hope that you and other commenters can take this on board not only when it is turned on them but in their (and your) comments about others.

  • Akiva says:

    Frosh, I don’t think you have ever seen me denigrate anything to do with Jewish learning, with religious investigation,or with cultural pursuits. I don’t think it is in your brief as editor to decide that the only people who value Judaism are the ones who make positive comments on this website, and so the only people who are allowed to be ‘included’ in the community are those who don’t find some of the articles you publish deeply offensive. This is just more of the self-censoring the community does, to its great detriment. I am allowed to disagree with your politics, and to remain deeply Jewish. Your argument is adolescent. and please, sort out the Galus policy regarding anonymous commenters, and stop raising it every time you don’t like what someone says.

    How can you possibly expect people such as Michael and I to respond well to a site where comments such as Shoshanna are allowed? The article you allowed her to post here is frankly a piece of incitement to hatred and vilification. Why are such comments accepted, yet Michael faces a barrage of hostility? If the aim of this piece was to foster an open discussion of these things – and I repeat, I remain deeply skeptical of the whole project – you contradict yourself by allowing such things.

    Again, I repeat – I do not doubt the sincerity and good intentions of the author of this article. But I think such a naive investigation has the potential to do much more harm than good. why not ask Daiyenu or a similar organisation to write a piece for you about this? They both value their Jewishness AND know what they’re talking about.

  • Akiva says:

    Rachsd, if that the point that you were truly trying to make, you would have said it without doing it.

  • Frosh,

    If I am not mistaken, you consider teaching children about Judaism to be child abuse!

    You have just broken two rules of netiquette.

    1. You have attacked the author, not the argument.

    2. You have attempted to derail the conversation.

    I kindly ask you to refocus back on the claims I make and not on me.

    Separately, if you think my comments about the Holocaust were offensive, perhaps you might like to swap places and see how I feel about this whole discussion. I would further kindly request you to not imply I was trivialising the Holocaust. That is grossly offensive.

    Regards,
    Michael.

  • frosh says:

    Akiva,

    You complain about censorship that doesn’t exist (when have you ever been censored on this site?), and within the same comment, you complain that there isn’t enough censorship of people you disagree with!

    If you were running the site, I have a pretty good idea what it would look like. We’d see a total lack of diversity of view points published, both in terms of the articles and the comments. No thanks, we’ve already got one AnthonyLoewenstein.com.

    Finally, with respect to inviting people or organisations to write articles, we have a standing arrangement that people are welcome to take up.

  • David W,

    The issue of identity is a complex one. We all have many aspects to our identity: sexual, ethnic, political, etc. Everyone is entitled to theirs, and to prioritize one over another in the way they choose. For example, some people call themselves Australian Jews, others Jewish Australians. This is probably a worthy topic for separate discussion.

    No.

    A person’s nationality or religion are flexible, as in they are something that they either choose or are indoctrinated with. A person’s sexuality, much like their handedness, is something they have no control over.

    As the most vocal person in the Jewish GLBT community, you may feel slighted that you are not part of the JCCV reference group.

    If you really think I want to be involved with anything to do with the JCCV under it’s current regime you are sorely mistaken.

    However, not everything that happens to you is because you are gay. It may just be because you are you.

    What did you base this piece of wisdom on? Have you ever been persecuted for being Jewish, or something different to the mainstream? Who stood up for you?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Akiva – I dont understand your fury about this article. At the very least readers (including me) have now seen that it may not be all goodness and light on the part of the JCCV, and people can make an effort to look into it further and make up their own minds on whether or not its a move in the right direction.

    I applaud what David said – we have to find pragmatic ways of tackling difficult stuff. And while talking is obviously not enough, forums like this one at least provide an opportunity to have some of the right discussions and what might need to be done to address the deficiencies in the way that for example the reference group has been set up.

  • Akiva says:

    Frosh – what ARE you on about? I never said anything about censorship. Or that I have been censored. You are either paranoid or deliberately stupid.

    I merely pointed out that disagreeing with many of the articles you allow on this site doesn’t make me any less Jewish. Nor is the inevitable result of my finding opinions such as this one that I should join the ‘camp’ of those who feel much more extremely than I do.

    And I think it’s time for a reality check. Articles such as the one Shoshanna was allowed to post a link to are, outside of a religious framework, considered an incitement to vilification and discrimination. I do not think they should be publicised on this site. especially not in an article which puports to be asking for an open debate on the issue.

    And, furthermore, if you allow these sort of things to be posted, I think you have a moral duty to actively seek out an unequivocal (which this article is not) opposing view from legitimate groups such as Daiyenu or Aleph. Otherwise you are tacitly encouraging the vilification.

  • Akiva says:

    Mandi – I wasn’t furious until it became apparent that no-one was asking a GLBT person what they thought of the scheme. and until I realised the insidious problems with it that were not made immediately apparent in the article. And judging from the reactions to Michael, as soon as GLBT people get involved, the conversation quickly gets derailed into hatefulness and questions of identity and authority.

    I still understand that the article is well-intentioned, although the comments are really, really not.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    I find it odd that we are discussing the issue of inclusiveness and yet there is a total denial of the views of people who may believe sincerely and strongly to the to contrary of the writer of the article.
    In such a situation as this, public debate on an issue is open slather. To be fair it was never my intention to degenerate to ad hominem attacks on individuals who voice different opinions to mine on a variety of topics. However this is where it heads, fine. I might add I can sling mud and vitriol better than anyone here, but I choose to hold back in the interests of compassion and respect for my fellow human beings. I have been the subject of quite a few blog posts that have been admittedly very defamatory and erroneous. The person making such attacks is impoverished and knows that I probably do not have the means to seek redress. I choose to ignore the attention seeking behaviour and advise that person to seek radical counselling therapy and soon.
    Shoshanna makes statements which are quite benign yet comes under vitriolic attack for voicing her opinion. It leaves me wondering if some people are so precious and ego driven they can not stand a bit of robust debate.
    Are we to tip toe around and go ‘Shh shhhh shsshhh,’ must not hurt fragile little gay activist who ever’s feelings??? LOOK if they really believe in the way they are living, a bit of robust debate on issues that affect both gay and (I will use straight rather than normal for peace’s sake) straight people in society should be a chance for them to re evaluate and defend their lifestyle and to justify it.
    Why should I have to apologise for being straight and no agreeing with the author Malki Rose. I do not and I will not betray my intrinsic beliefs that there is not a place for this sort of expression in society although I do believe very strongly that gay people should be helped and not vilified.

  • Michael B,

    “A person’s nationality or religion are flexible, as in they are something that they either choose or are indoctrinated with. A person’s sexuality, much like their handedness, is something they have no control over.” That’s your perspective. Others might feel less flexible about, say, religion, and more flexible about sexuality. People have choices about most anything.

    “If you really think I want to be involved with anything to do with the JCCV under it’s current regime you are sorely mistaken.” So which one is it? You’re upset that they didn’t call you and ask you to be involved? or you’d never want to be involved with the evil JCCV anyway? Sounds more like a Groucho Marx-ism!

    “What did you base this piece of wisdom on? Have you ever been persecuted for being Jewish, or something different to the mainstream? Who stood up for you?” What has that got to do with my point? I have observed your behaviour on these pages and in public communication, and formed a view regarding the contribution you may or may not be able to make to the JCCV forum on GLBT. Your previous comment almost proves my point.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Mandi, wasn’t sure if in all this you managed to see my earlier question to you regarding the schools support mechanisms?

  • frosh says:

    Akiva,

    You might be surprised to know that we don’t click on every link that commenters post on this site. That goes for Ms Silcove, and that goes for Mr Barnett.

    Commenters posting links on this site does not equate to publishing articles on this site. If we had to publish an article to offer a contrary view every time the likes of Ms Silcove or Mr Barnett merely posted a link, then we’d be publishing articles all day.

    As for our comments policy, we are able to distinguish between what we consider optimal, and what we consider permissible, and there is a wide gulf between them.

    It is optimal that when someone like yourself comes on this site and criticises people who have the courage to use their real name, that the commenter also use their real name. Likewise, we don’t have to agree with a comment (or an article, and certainly not a link) to allow it to be published.

    It is evident now that you do not understand this distinction. Since you are clearly so unsatisfied with how we run this website, my suggestion is that you go away and start your own. Check in with us in 12 months time and we’ll see how you are doing. My guess is that AntonyLoewenstein.com already has that market saturated.

  • Akiva says:

    what a sorry abdication of responsibility for an editor to make.

    and really, get your attitude to anonymous posting sorted out. either it is ok, and allowed, or it isn’t. Or it is allowed, but the editors reserve the right to attack you about it if they either don’t like what you say. Please, be consistent.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    hi Malki. I dont really know. Im not aware of any formal programs in the middle years which countenance that kids might be experiencing same sex attraction. I intend to find out. I understood from your article that that is something the JCCV wants to focus on and I think that’s a great intitiative.

  • frosh says:

    Akiva,

    If you still can’t understand the difference between behaviour that is suboptimal vs behaviour that is prohibited, then you are even thicker than I first thought.

    You are not a victim here, so quit acting like one. You don’t have to engage in commenting on this site. If you do, then any other commenter including me has the right to take issue with what you say and how you say it. End of story!

  • Akiva says:

    If you define ‘suboptimal’ as ‘fair game for personal attacks on this issue to the exclusion of all other relevant arguments’, you need to make it clear. Or better still, remove the option so we can be spared the obfuscation you regularly introduce when you don’t like the way that the conversation is going.

  • David W:

    That’s your perspective. Others might feel less flexible about, say, religion, and more flexible about sexuality. People have choices about most anything.

    You’re a funny man. Really you are. If you think sexuality is something that people are so flexible about, how about you try not being so heterosexual for a week. Resist all your heterosexual urges and do your best to deny that part of yourself.

    I’d be surprised if you even took my suggestion seriously. You’d probably think I’m foolish for even suggesting it.

    So which one is it? You’re upset that they didn’t call you and ask you to be involved? or you’d never want to be involved with the evil JCCV anyway? Sounds more like a Groucho Marx-ism!

    Again, you make me laugh. Have you considered stand-up as a career change? ;)

    Unfortunately, you are missing the point. Think outside the square. There is a bigger picture that you seem to have overlooked.

    I wanted to engage in a dialogue with a range of parties, amongst which the JCCV was just one. The JCCV, in typical JCCV style, decided it would control the discussion and so made a unilateral decision to form this reference group. That happened because it came under pressure from the Victorian Multicultal Commission, it’s source of government funding, to prove it was actually doing something to work with GLBT Jews.

    This is not a process that I care to engage with the JCCV on their terms. I especially do not want to engage with a bunch of heterosexual men with old-fashioned ideas, constrained by their inflexible religious ideologies.

    Hence my opening remark in this discussion, dracula is running the Jewish blood bank.

    David, I ask you, do you care? Do you really care? Are you capable of putting your religious beliefs aside for this discussion, or are you as well so inflexible that they will hinder your ability to engage in this discussion as so many of the others have proven to be?

    Michael.

  • frosh says:

    Michael,

    You wrote that the JCCV “came under pressure from the Victorian Multicultal Commission, it’s source of government funding, to prove it was actually doing something to work with GLBT Jews.”

    If this was the case, then wouldn’t other such groups, such as the ICV (Islamic Council of Victoria) have come under similar pressure?
    Can anyone comment about this in an educated fashion?

  • frosh says:

    Akiva,

    Since you seem incapable of understanding why your anonymous comments are problematic in these circumstances, allow me to spell it out for you with an example that will be close to home for you.

    Imagine that a commenter comes on this thread and makes a statement that non-GLBT people have no right to express an opinion on this matter (on what basis this anonymous commenter determines everyone else’s undisclosed sexuality is another mystery altogether). The anonymous commenter, for example, uses an obviously male pseudonym and declares that they identify as GLBT.

    However, imagine if this anonymous commenter actually was a woman in a long-term relationship with a straight man! Well, I think everyone here would agree that such behaviour would be downright unethical, and needless to say, dishonest.

    Get my drift? I think you do.

  • Akiva says:

    why don’t you ask Queer Muslims In Australia? The website it http://groups.yahoo.com/group/queermuslims/ and you want to be asking Aly – at mohummadally@yahoo.com.

  • Akiva says:

    I think that you would have to be very sure that you knew everything about the sexual and romantic history of the person before you made such a staggeringly shallow judgement. Or presume to speak for them.

  • Frosh,

    You wrote that the JCCV “came under pressure from the Victorian Multicultal Commission, it’s source of government funding, to prove it was actually doing something to work with GLBT Jews.”

    If this was the case, then wouldn’t other such groups, such as the ICV (Islamic Council of Victoria) have come under similar pressure?
    Can anyone comment about this in an educated fashion?

    I documented the chain of events in my blog “Some inside goss into why the JCCV set up the GLBT reference group”.

    I don’t know what the situation with the ICV is but I’m sure the VMC wouldn’t treat them any differently.

    Michael.

  • Akiva says:

    and I think you’ve just summed up why it’s best that you should stay away from any conversations involving other people’s sexuality.

  • yiddishefaygeleh says:

    akiva and michael you should both be ashamed of your revolting display of judgement. there are individuals in that reference group that have given just as much of themselves to this cause as you have and to feel that you have a superior right to decide what people can and cannot do to support the glbt community is selfish and starts to demonstrate why nobody in the jccv wants to have anything to do with u.
    michael you keep telling everyone how to be gay and u have no respect for your judaism at all. i am gay but first i am a human who believes in decency. then i am a jew . how dare u assume that all gay people are exactly like u. u make us look like self absorbed bigots, the very thing u claim to be fighting against. not a single gay jew i know wants anything to do with your bitter hatred and bullying or with aleph. everyone is scared to have anything to do with u. you are like that self hating gay from little britain who is only happy when he is a victim.

  • Oops. Someone is a whisker unhappy.

    michael you keep telling everyone how to be gay

    Did I? When? What did I say?

    What do you have to offer then?

    Michael.

  • Akiva says:

    I’m truly sorry that you feel like that, and I certainly don’t think that anyone can tell anyone else how to, or what it means to be gay. And all genuine support of the GLBT community is of course welcome. And while I don’t – and can’t, I have no idea who they are – judge anyone for their involvement in this committee, I don’t think the sincere efforts of those involved have anything to do with stopping it from being a cover-all for entrenched homophobia. And although I don’t doubt that you have invested as much as supported the community throughout your life in the way of your choosing, I think your fear of Aleph says much more about the Jewish community’s general attitude to homosexuality than it does about Michael, or about Aleph itself. It’s such a shame. To choose to stay away from it is one thing – but to be scared? Such a shame.

  • Mark Symons says:

    I think it is important to acknowledge what seems to me the simple fact, for better or for worse, that Shoshana and Ilana – and many other orthodox Jews for that matter – for whatever reasons – though presumably the way they have internalised their belief in and understanding of orthodox Judaism is a major factor – have come to virtually instinctively – and extremely strongly – feel/believe that homosexual behavior/attitude is morally and spiritually reprehensible and destructive to the individual, to the family and to society. No wonder they comment as they do. How could they do otherwise? Wouldn’t most of us would do the same?

  • Mark,

    homosexual behavior/attitude is morally and spiritually reprehensible and destructive to the individual, to the family and to society. No wonder they comment as they do. How could they do otherwise? Wouldn’t most of us would do the same?

    Is that your way is saying “me too”?

    Further evidence of the hate and poison that necessitates programs to empower vulnerable young people and prevent them from self-harm and suicide.

    Michael.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    yiddishefaygeleh
    Thank you. A rose of real commonsense and balance amidst the thorny issues raised here.
    I would like to further comment on what Mark Symons has said. I am in no way intending to be destructive of the individual, but I am saying that I do not agree with his or her behaviour. I am totally supportive of gay people coming to terms with their issues of gender in a positive way, HOWEVER, I think no gay person or heterosexual person has the right to play around with the emotions and psychological state of young people. I do think that there are gay activists and heterosexuals too, who do take advantage of the innocence and confusion of some young people and corrupt them either.
    The norm is the heterosexual way of being. It is normal to want to find a partner of the opposite sex, to marry, to procreate having children and develop a healthy balanced relationship with your spouse over the years as you raise healthy children who will in turn raise your grandchildren etc etc etc. I will not apologise for being a heterosexual. And furthermore, to tell me I am conducting a war against homosexuality because I do not advocate that way of life, well that is absurd. I have no time for wars. I believe that homosexuals should be helped and definitely not vilified nor abused. However I would expect that some members of the ‘gay’ community would be so good as to not conduct their own little propaganda war against heterosexuals who don’t agree with their stance and get on with it – their life in other words. In other words, what is their agenda? I think that is an obvious question????

  • Mark Symons says:

    Michael – Me too what?

    Let me attempt to clarify what I thought would have been clear from my posting:

    1. I definitely DO NOT share what I speculated about and described as that “visceral, irrational belief/feeling about homosexual behavior/attitude as being “morally and spiritually reprehensible and destructive to the individual, to the family and to society”.

    2. But yes, I think that IF I DID feel that way, I admit would probably be inclined to comment in a similar highly critical (though hopefully not hatefully – at least not towards the people, even if towards the behavior/attitude)way.

    3. And I FULLY AGREE WITH YOU that programs are needed to empower vulnerable young people and prevent them from self-harm and suicide.

  • Mark Symons, most people think that “homosexual behavior/attitude is morally and spiritually reprehensible and destructive to the individual, to the family and to society.” And many of us believe that G-d thinks so too. There is a world of people outside of the the realm of the limousine lefties, Hollyweird, egghead academics, the libertine and decadent who actually have different a point of view. Imagine that! My, you have been sheltered, haven’t you?

  • And most people agree with Ilana and myself but are cowered into silence by gay activists and are afraid of being called ‘homophobic’, but that never worried me.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    I think Mark Symons’s comment about preventing vulnerable young people or others from self harm or suicide is probably the most worthwhile aim that should be supported by all of us.
    Often young people who have been abused deal with the aftermath of the abuse by blocking it out through the use of drugs, deviant sexual behaviour or self abuse or suicide. I am not just talking about sexual abuse but all sorts of abuse from parental neglect, emotional neglect, verbal abuse, physical abuse and the list could go on….

  • Thank you for that clarification. I felt that was the direction you were heading in but wasn’t sure, as your initial message lacked any clear words of support.

  • I think it’s really pathetic that this discussion has spiralled down into a question of who possesses more of a right to comment on the GLBT “community”: a regression for which I blame Akiva entirely. With the exception of a couple of predictably decorous comments from Shoshanna Silcove and Ilana Leeds, the conversation was progressing in a civil tone until Akiva showed up and started throwing punches. Not that I’m surprised. The assertion, oft-repeated, that only homosexuals are allowed to comment on homosexual issues is as obnoxious as it is incorrect.

    Any form of vilification in our community affects all of us. The fact that I am not gay does not change the fact that slurs against gay people affect me too. Can I possibly speak for the sexual identities of my unborn children? Or of my grandchildren so many years away? If you think that you are safe from homophobia just because you are not a homosexual, you are an idiot.

    And Akiva, your righteous indignation at having somebody accuse you of being straight is as obnoxious to me as having listened to you bandy that word around yourself, in reference to people whom you do not know, as a slur against their right to comment on this thread. If I may quote you, the fact that you don’t “know everything about the sexual and romantic history of the person before you made such a staggeringly shallow judgement”, means that it might be time for you to “stay away from any conversations involving other people’s sexuality”.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    [Eds: Comment removed. This is not a forum for some commenters to give lifestyle or sexuality advice to other individual commenters. In this case, if you wish to do this, please contact Mr Barnett privately via his own website]

  • My previous comment was a response to Mark Symons.

  • Nifty says:

    Firstly I have to apologise for not reading through ALL 100+ comments…

    As a heterosexual Orthodox Jewish male I obviously do not understand the feeling of discrimination by some in the GLBT community. But what always gets my goat is that the Orthodox community is blamed for precipitating most of the supposed anti-gay feelings in the Jewish community.

    In many years of belonging to Charedi communities both here and overseas I have not seen any overt (or even covert) discrimination in Orthodox shuls. I was a member of a small shul in New York where the president was a gay man. I know of a number of gay men in Melbourne who are active members of different shuls and communities. None of my white, Orthodox, middle-aged friends disparage gays in casual conversation and indeed it is really a non-issue.

    It appears to me that the non-religious/secular Jewish community has more issues with GLBT people than the Orthodox community (barring some vociferous commenters here). Maybe Malki, Michael et al should take a real look at who is uncomfortable with our gay co-religionists and not take the easy way out and blame Orthodoxy.

  • Nifty,

    Orthodox Jewish dogma teaches that homosexuality is unacceptable.

    Michael.

  • Sam says:

    Michael

    And the sun is hot, particularly from close range.

    What is the point, is that notwithstanding “Jewish dogma” (your words), most orthodox observant Jews have a more modern sympathetic view on gay persons, and if you stop playing victim for a few minutes and look around you, it will be clear that this is indeed the case.

  • I think that Nifty and Sam raise a very good point, but I will qualify it by saying that I have heard a great deal of nastiness on this score from religious Jews – albeit not in Australia. I think, however, that it needs to be noted (as Nifty and Sam pointed out) that this problem is not restricted to the religious community. Indeed, there is stupidity everywhere. I have not personally encountered orthodox revulsion of homosexuality in this country, but I have heard homophobic statements many times from the non-religious in my midst. It is, indeed, too easy to blame negative attitudes on the halakha, when the halakha is merely a symptom of the same negative phenomenon. That there are many today who decry such attitudes is a very positive development.

    Rabbi Shmuley Boteach recently wrote an interesting article for the Huffington Post. It’s well worth a read, even if it doesn’t say what you might have wanted it to say.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Nifty,
    I did not say that anywhere. Nor do I believe that. PLEASE do not lump mine and Michael’s views into one shared view. They are very different.
    I have also been very clear that this needs to not be a religious or rabbinic issue but a social justice one predicated on inclusion.
    This is why the reference group is comprised of a mix of individuals, gay, straight, orthodox and progressive. This issue is a community one and therefore involves everyone.
    It is not about blame, but , to use a gillard-ism, moving forward.
    The idea of the reference group is to decipher where the cracks are, who is falling through them and how this can be remedied.
    Thus far the group has found that working with schools to establish the right avenues of support would be a helpful place to start.

  • Oy Vey says:

    WOW..why so many posts..and so much hocus pokus (or is it poke-us) on the subject of homosexuality?..Ashkenazi just love to talk talk talk, everyone talks a lot but nobody actuay SAYS anything.

    Is it an Ashkenazi “thing” to just give “lip service” on the subject?

  • Malki Rose says:

    and Sam, you are correct, there is much in the way of empathy/sympathy from the modern orthodox and perhaps even the not so modern. Rav Eliashuv has made many statements in regards to treating GLBT jews with greater respect and inclusion, there is some wonderfully helpful stuff even in the gemara, which I will be discussing at Limmud Fest next month, which suggest it is not religion or the religious who have a problem with homosexuality but rather certain individuals. It is unfortunate with so much good in the orthodox world that some have only managed to encounter the mean-spirited few.

  • Nifty says:

    Malki,

    I do apologise for not making a distinction between your and Michael’s views which, on closer reading, are quite different in tone.

    I admit that in these sort of discussions the word “Orthodox” tends to jump out at me. You did say:

    “In speaking with Mr Searle, I suggested that some of the discrimination and exclusionary behaviour may also be too subtle to measure and also far more prevalent in the Orthodox community where the Halachic concerns play a stronger role in the community’s treatment or subtle exclusion of GLBT Jews.”

    My argument is that I do not believe that “discrimination and exclusionary behaviour” is in fact “far more prevalent in the Orthodox community”. My point is that, in my experience, the Orthodox community is in many ways more tolerant of a person’s sexual orientation.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Nifty,
    I take your point and do agree to a significant extent. Perhaps saying “FAR more prevalent” was not entirely fair or accurate.
    What I do strongly maintain is that the discrimination can be a lot more subtle and difficult to discern in the orthodox community (rather than more frequent in occurence, necessarily).
    In any community where individuals are expected to live a particular path there is often exclusion for those who do not or who are in any way different.
    While this certainly happens in the orthodox community it is certainly not unique to it.
    I think it is ‘exclusion’ as a behaviour which is a far more subtle form of discrimination.
    For example for a board member of a Jewish ‘community’ radio station to remark in private that they are not interested in any Gay or Lesbian content or individuals at ‘their’ station and then making decisions on content and the treatment of individuals on this basis is difficult to combat when others haven’t heard the remark and believe ‘it didnt happen’.
    In a similar way, a Jew who has not experienced anti-semitism first hand may not believe it to exist in any problematic way but perhaps think it something which only happens in ‘other’ communities.
    This is about being aware that our community is no different and experiencesthe same often hidden problems as any other.

  • Nifty says:

    I agree 100% with your last sentence.

    Knowing some of the people involved with the radio station I am not surprised that some of them would make those comments…

    Unfortunately, with all we as Jews have been through as a people the battle for respect for all of G-d’s creations is still an uphill one.

  • Shira Wenig says:

    I don’t have much to add to this discussion over and above what David Werdiger has already said, and what Rabbi Shamir Caplan wrote on this site in response to Michael Barnett’s article a year ago (Confronting the last Taboo – Orthodox Judaism and Homosexuality).

    I just want to point out that from the perspective of Orthodox Judaism, there is very little room for change in our attitude to the permissibility of homosexual sex. In this sense it is no different to any other act classified by the Torah as a sin.
    There IS room for change in our attitude to homosexual relationships which do not include sex (ie. if the people involved choose not to act on their feelings in this way); and, more importantly, in our attitude towards homosexual individuals as people and the efforts we make to help them feel welcome and supported in the Jewish community.

    I say this because the comments on this article seem to be heading in two separate directions. Some rail against the Torah’s prohibition and seem to want this disregarded as a matter of policy, while others address the more practical issues of community tolerance and support, particularly in the area of mental health.

    The first type of argument is pointless, as Orthodox Jews will not simply disregard a clear verse in the Torah no matter how difficult they may find it. In this vein, Atoz’s sarcastic comment above “And I do enjoy listening to those who tell me love the person hate the sin” is not helpful. I don’t want to underestimate the hurt this sentiment might cause to a gay person, but really it’s the best that Orthodox Judaism can do in this regard.

    The second type of argument is what we should be focusing on here – the practical side of what can be done in terms of community tolerance and support – which is what Malki’s article is about in the first place. The quote she attributes to John Searle is really the crux of the matter – “While we are not in a position to argue or change where Jewish Law stands on these issues, we are most certainly in a position as a community structure to decipher…what sort of discrimination and vilification GLBT Jews are being subjected to by the rest of the Jewish Community, and figure out ways to combat this.”

  • Sam says:

    Shira, you said:

    “Some rail against the Torah’s prohibition and seem to want this disregarded as a matter of policy,”

    “The first type of argument is pointless, as Orthodox Jews will not simply disregard a clear verse in the Torah no matter how difficult they may find it.”

    To generalise in the above statement you make to be inclusive of all orthodox Jews is patently absurd. Some Orthodox Jews drive on Shabbos, some eat non kosher food, and much more and the heavens do not cave in on them.
    Believe it or not, people of our faith find a level of observance that they are comfortable with, and if this includes holding out the hand of genuine friendship to gays, then they are no lesser Jews than anyone else, even the most frum!

  • As has been demonstrated in this post again and again, this is an issue that easily changes tack. While it is not my intention to overtly shift the discussion into the realm of halakha, what you have just said, Shira, is untrue. The problem is not the inclusion of two verses in Leviticus, but the treatment that those verses are given in the rabbinic literature. I need hardly tell you that there are explicit pronouncements made in the Torah that the rabbis did counteract through recontextualisation, such that their observation ceased to be a practical possibility. It would have been very possible and very easy for them to have done the same thing here. You can look to sociohistorical reasons to explain their reticence on that score, as you can look to sociological reasons in the present day to explain the continued justification of this particular halakha.

    Incidentally, you say that homosexuality is no different to any other “sin” mentioned in the Torah. If that were the case, why are there orthodox rabbis who preside over the marriages of kohanim and divorcees? I think you’ll find that if the majority of people had a problem with this particular prohibition, ways around it could be found most expediently. But they don’t, and so they won’t. The issue here is how these attitudes then filter down, and whether or not gay people are suffering exclusion and abuse. I linked to Rabbi Boteach’s article because he happens to be (like yourself) a very forward-thinking individual, working within the confines of the halakha. I am not demanding that the halakha change, but that we recognise it for what it is and, in so doing, appreciate what it does not say.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Simon, regarding your last line – that is the precise essence of what the halachic discussion SHOULD be.
    But as we’ve all asserted we should, in this particular thread, stick to the issue of inclusiveness and combatting villification as is the aim of the JCCV’s reference group. The halachic point is a major one certainly fitting for another article.

  • Daniel says:

    Malki,

    Like Akiva I recognise the good intentions that motivated this article. They are the same as the good intentions that motivate many a bleeding-heart effort to ‘save’ the poor, helpless, needy [insert minority group here]. The problem is precisely because the reference group intends to deal with (as you have said) ‘mental health issues’ that it completely fails to come to terms in any meaningful way with the reality of LGBTIQ Jews. By casting this problem as one of ‘mental health’, queer Jews can be maligned as sick while their integrity as a vital sub-cultural force is totally negated. The reference group (assuming it really exists) is likely to sit around some big table at Beth Weizman talking about the ‘gay problem’ in a way that is completely removed from the reality of everyday queer experience in Jewish Melbourne. At the end of a one-hour chat, the members can pat themselves on the back, and Mr Searle can release some self-congratulatory press release in the Jewish News (and no doubt Ilana Leeds can continue spouting her disgusting hatespeech on blogs like this), but nothing at all will have changed in the lives of queer Jews, who will remain as maligned from the mainstream community as ever. Malki, your article, and your faith in the reference group, unintentionally furthers and supports the ‘reference group’s own claims to legitimacy, which work only to cover up both its irrelevance and its arrogance. I appreciate your interest and (misguided) commitment to GLBTIQ rights, but can’t help seeing this essay as an expression of liberal guilt that might soothe your conscience but does nothing to promote meaningful engagement between, and not just ‘tolerance’ of, queer and non-queer Jews.

  • Akiva says:

    Daniel,

    I so utterly, utterly agree with everything that you have written.

    and it’s over and out from me.

  • [Eds: Some foul language removed. Michael, please refrain from using gratuitous foul language on this site. Thank you].
    Get your head out of the sand. No amount of ‘tolerance’ and self-righteous pity will ever save young people from harming themselves while you precious heteros choose to tolerate us in our abstinent relationships. You are ignorami.

    Daniel and Akiva know what the problem and the solution is. Ignore me if you wish, but do it at your kids risk.

    The JCCV will never release a statement condoning homosexuality and the Orthodox Rabbinate will be stuck in their intolerant shtetls of hate for the foreseeable future.

    Michael.

  • Shira Wenig says:

    Sam – we obviously disagree about the definition of “Orthodox”, but not about the point I was raising. I consider as Orthodox those Jews who make every reasonable effort to keep every mitzvah in the Torah – I would class those who drive on Shabbat or eat non-kosher food as traditional, so my generalisation is not absurd. As you say, it’s up to each individual to “find a level of observance that they are comfortable with”, but that doesn’t mean they are automatically Orthodox.

    Simon – if the rabbis had counteracted those pesukim through recontextualisation, or any other method, then it would be a different matter. The fact that they did not do this tells me that they considered those pesukim to be binding, not that they skipped over that bit for some reason. But I respect your prerogative to view this silence differently, and I am perfectly happy to be corrected if a respected posek takes the same view as you. (I don’t mean any offense to you by the way, I just assume from your previous posts that you are not qualified to give a psak.)
    I am not aware of Orthodox rabbis who do preside over marriages of other forbidden relationships; I was under the impression that if such a marriage does take place (I mean the kind that is recognised b’dieved), it is done with no rabbi present, who would be condoning the union l’chatchila. If there are rabbis who preside over marriages which are forbidden, even b’dieved, then “in hachi nami” – this is equally problematic and I doubt they are in the religious mainstream.

  • Thank you Simon. Thank you.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    I am surprised that Michael Barnett is allowed to be offensive and abusive in his posts. If I have to be under moderation and have my comments approved before posting, than this ‘gentleman’ (NOT) should have his comments moderated before posting as well so he does not generate into foul language. He needs a good counselor to sort his knotted little mind out.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    @ Daniel I have not in any shape or form incited any sort of violent behaviour or speech against gay or homosexual people. I would not. My issue is with their lifestyle choice and not with the person. The only hatred is pouring from your poison pen. Thank you.
    Suggest you stick to topic and stop personal attacks. Moderators it would be appropriate to stop the constant harping references of these people. If they can’t attack the issues and debate it reasonably they go in for the personal attacks. Impoverished mentality and poor debating skills. I am available for lessons in debating. Because of the material I have to work with and their level of skill, I would go so far as to suggest that we can start at $100 USD an academic hour and if they get abusive, that is another $50 on top.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    @ Simon, you will find that no Orthodox rabbi who is fully kosher in outlook and practice would preside over a marriage of a Cohen – person descended from the priestly caste or tribe of Yehudah – to any of the following
    1. A divorcee
    2. A convert to Judaism
    3. A non Jew
    4. A woman of dubious reputation or a woman who has lived publically with a non-Jew

    Of course, in this day and age, we have gotten a bit slack and certain things are overlooked but there are something on which there is no negotiation.
    In the old times, the priests were not allowed to serve in the holy temple if they had tattoos, piercings and definitely, there were no homosexual priests. I could go on but this is not the venue for forbidden relationships exploration. Suffice to say that there is no need of a rabbi for a couple to be deemed married. There needs only to be a gift of some small value exchanged in front of kosher witnesses. Any marriage by a Cohen to one of the above is not really a marriage but probably has similar status to a de facto relationship, and therefore not legitimate in halacha as it is expressly forbidden. It is on the same level as homosexual unions and bestiality. A Cohen has to keep himself holy to G-D in order to serve in the Beit Hamikdash.

  • Shira Wenig says:

    Simon, my statement that the rabbis did not reinterpret the Torah’s words because they considered them binding hardly makes your point that the rabbis themselves are the source of the prohibition. That would lead to the absurd conclusion that the authority of every word in the Torah is subject to ratification by the rabbis.

    I too understand why the “love the person, disapprove of the sin” attitude makes someone angry and hurt – hence my acknowledgement of this in my initial post. It is not a concept I am entirely comfortable with either, though of course not to the same degree as those whose lifestyle is being referred to. It is also not the Torah’s only statement which does not sit well with me (but this is well beyond the scope of this topic); nevertheless, I feel bound by its precepts.

    But please recognise that disapproval of someone else’s lifestyle goes both ways, and no one has a monopoly on condescension. Abiding by the values of tolerance and respect does not require us to approve of everything that other people do – that just leads to permissiveness and equivalence. It requires us to respect people regardless of actions of theirs that we might disapprove of, and to view them as equal human beings. If Michael Barnett wants to view my attitude as condescending, even though it is not meant that way at all, that’s his prerogative; but his disapproval of my lifestyle (ie. teaching my children about Judaism, which he characterises as child abuse) is certainly no less condescending.

    Simon, I have developed a lot of respect for your opinions from multiple discussions on this site, but your final statements in your response to me are just plain offensive. (“Homosexuality is not a disease, and it is not a choice. And it doesn’t only affect other people’s families.”) I happen to wholeheartedly agree with those two sentences of yours. I also did not mention these issues at all in my earlier posts, and I have no idea why you found it necessary to include them, implying that I disagree.

  • Daniel says:

    Ilana Leeds,

    I think it’s barely worth my time to write this to you, so I’ll do it once and not again. First, I want to say clearly that what you write is vilification. Vilify means ‘to write about in a disparaging manner’. You write above (inter alia) that homosexuality is an ‘oddball and perverse lifestyle’ – a clear example of disparaging and offensive language. I know you’ll object with pleas of ‘sympathy for the sick’ and the need to ‘care’ for the ill, but these platitudes fool no one, and I doubt whether even you believe that your concern is to ‘cure’ rather than to ‘vilify’ queer Jews.
    All of which is said as an aside. What I want to say is simply this: I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. No doubt we disagree on many issues. I respect diversity of opinion, even when I vigorously oppose the content of those opinions. But your writings, here and elsewhere, go far beyond what can reasonably bend accepted as ‘free speech’. They are vitriolic, oozing with hate, condescension, and judgment. It makes me very, very sad – for you, as well as for me, because I wonder what drives a person to such bitterness, such lack of empathy, such disregard for the dignity of every person. You, Ilana Leeds, have forgotten (or chosen to ignore) the precept Derech Eretz Kadma LeTorah. And what disappoints me most is that even in the aftermath of the Shoah, when our community, a remnant only of what was lost, huddles together and tries to create community from the ashes in our little galus australis, people like you insist on creating divisions, driving people apart from each other, using Judaism against itself, and deploying hate to negate the possibility of a modern, open, accepting and generative Jewish community that provides home and solace to all those who proudly call themselves Jewish. As you know no doubt know, the Torah commands the Jew not to separate from the community. But you, Ilana Leeds, threaten to drive away all those whom the community needs most, and who need community most: the youth, the outsider, the loner, the queer. He-ger ha-gar betocham. Perhaps you pride yourself on the technical accuracy of your Halachik worlview. But what you have abandoned is also what is most precious in Judaism – that prophetic vision of a new world of equality, freedom, dignity, and self-realisation for all people. Your words work against the coming of that vision, and, for that reason, really could’t be less Jewish.

  • Shira,

    If Michael Barnett wants to view my attitude as condescending, even though it is not meant that way at all, that’s his prerogative; but his disapproval of my lifestyle (ie. teaching my children about Judaism, which he characterises as child abuse) is certainly no less condescending.

    I did not bring this (inaccuate) comment to this discussion. Anthony Frosh disrespectfully and unprofessionally diverted the conversation by stating this. I do not wish to discuss my personal perspective on religion in this discussion. It is neither relevant nor important here.

    I ask you to ignore this distraction as I did not say this here.

    As to your attitude to homosexuality, it would pay you to count the number of teen suicides in the USA over the past few weeks that occured due to religious intolerance of homosexuality, in one way or another. Start by watching the It Gets Better Project site. I assume you’d prefer to make sure this didn’t happen to your kids.

    Regards,
    Michael.

  • Shira, I sincerely apologise. I was worked up about the topic and had not meant to write that so confrontationally. Rather than condemning you, I was actually meaning to join you in the condemnation of those whom you were condemning yourself. Obviously there are different approaches to Torah, and I also didn’t mean to predicate my conclusions on the approach that I would take. While we might disagree on our interpretations of it, I am aware that orthodox Judaism is too complex a phenomenon to simply dismiss, or to suggest that it needs “to change”. Any change that happens is going to happen from within, and if any change is to happen it needs to be treated with both sensitivity and respect.

    Like you, I decry individuals who agitate for hatred. I am sorry if I appeared to be one.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    Daniel this is your subjective opinion and only your opinion. I reject it out of hand as you do not know me and you are making some gross assumptions as you try to bully me into your way of thinking. I am not fooled as few others are.

    ” But your writings, here and elsewhere, go far beyond what can reasonably bend accepted as ‘free speech’. They are vitriolic, oozing with hate, condescension, and judgment. It makes me very, very sad – for you, as well as for me, because I wonder what drives a person to such bitterness, such lack of empathy, such disregard for the dignity of every person. You, Ilana Leeds, have forgotten (or chosen to ignore) the precept Derech Eretz Kadma LeTorah. And what disappoints me most is that even in the aftermath of the Shoah, when our community, a remnant only of what was lost, huddles together and tries to create community from the ashes in our little galus australis, people like you insist on creating divisions, driving people apart from each other, using Judaism against itself, and deploying hate to negate the possibility of a modern, open, accepting and generative Jewish community that provides home and solace to all those who proudly call themselves Jewish. ”

    If anyone oozes hatred and vilification it is you. I do not seek to harm others and nor do I judge others. I leave that to one true judge. You however are full of hatred and do judge me and my lifestyle. You will not bully me into acceptance of a lifestyle I do not agree with. I attack the lifestyle and not the person. You are very clever in that you are trying to say that I am full of hatred, yet time and time again no one of you had deigned to attack my argument, but have turned it into a personal attack on me. Well, if that is the best you can do I am bitterly disappointed. Judaism has always been about robust debate on many issues. Just because I disagree with you does not mean I hate you. I think you are totally confused. No where in my posts have I advocated harm to others for any reason what so ever. I am not likely to do so, although to read some of these posts baying for my blood, you would think David Duke and I were Klan mates from way back. Darn, gotta find that white sheet with the funny cone head cap somewhere and dust it off.
    You don’t know me and frankly from the offensive and aggressive tone of your posts I am really glad I do not know you better.
    I stand by my beliefs and I expect others to do the same. I take a humanistic approach to life and I value life, but I will not say that certain things are ‘ok’ if I sincerely believe them not to be. It is called honesty. Nite.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    @ Daniel
    Please reread your own words and think about them in essence please.

    “But you, Ilana Leeds, threaten to drive away all those whom the community needs most, and who need community most: the youth, the outsider, the loner, the queer. He-ger ha-gar betocham. Perhaps you pride yourself on the technical accuracy of your Halachik worlview. But what you have abandoned is also what is most precious in Judaism – that prophetic vision of a new world of equality, freedom, dignity, and self-realisation for all people. Your words work against the coming of that vision, and, for that reason, really could’t be less Jewish.”

    I have no answer for you and while you may not agree with my personal viewpoint and decry it as not Jewish, I could very much say the same of yours. Your type of Judaism is foreign to the Judaism that I know and love. What you obviously have not worked out yet Daniel that it is ok to disagree with people and still get on with them on other issues.
    I am kinda concerned that you think you hold the blueprint to Jewish thinking and lifestyle. You don’t. Judaism has always been about robust debate. You are the one driving people away with your rants. I voice my opinion but am quite open to other opinions and can even respect the fact that you do not respect my opinion and would like to see me hang drawn and quartered. Metaphorically of course. :-) One thing I do have that you do not, is a sense of humour. Please develop one. It will help you get through your life.

  • In referring to the It Gets Better Project I would just like to convey some of the (USA) statistics on the project’s About page:

    Statistics

    * 9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school.
    * LGBT teens are bullied 2 to 3 times as much as straight teens.
    * More than 1/3 of LGBT kids have attempted to commit suicide.
    * LGBT kids are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide then our straight peers.
    * LGBT youth with “highly rejecting” families are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accept them.

    These figures will differ in Australia but I can assure you that the issues are similar, especially with the last statement.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Thank you Michael,

    Those statistics are exactly the sort of thing that the reference group are seeking to deal with in an Jewish Community context. As you’ve said although the figures would presumably be very different in Australia, they would more than likely still exist.

    Certainly the last statistic involving “rejecting families” rings as relevant in a community such as ours.

  • Malki,

    Why your sudden interest in this cause and why are you so keen to push the JCCV’s approach to this issue given their questionable motives and sordid history?

    One correction. I said the figures would differ, but I did not say they would be very different.

    Michael.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Yes you said differ rather than very different. No need to pick it apart.
    I believe the figures will prove very different and you only think they will differ.
    I saw that as us having a point of agreement to a certain extent, feel free to view that as another disagreement.
    In my opinion, and feel free to disagree again,
    Australia is a very different place to the USA, not a little bit different.
    The Jewish world is very different to the rest of the world, not a little bit different.

    Each have different cultural, environmental, educational and socio-economic factors to consider.

    Therefore, it stands to reason that the statistics in Australia and/or in the Jewish community would be far more concerning in some areas and less concerning in others.

    There is nothing sudden about it.

    I spoke with the JCCV and others about this many years ago. My interest is not sudden, it is the fact that they have initiated something recently which has heightened the timeliness of this discussion.

    The other item which makes this pertinent currently is the Lion FM board’s unofficial stance on GLBT Jews and disinterest in discussion on any relevant topics. It tells us that the issue of exclusion and ‘ostrich-ism’, is well and truly alive in our community.

  • Malki Rose says:

    oh and and in answer to your question of why am I so keen to push for support for their initiative.
    Because it is a positive step forward, and I believe that positive steps need to be encouraged, promoted and given positive energy, not met with negativity.

  • Akiva says:

    Yet, Malki, you show no understanding of the problems with the reference group that glbt Jews such as Michael and daniel are pleading with you to hear. Why not? If it is because of their anger, then other members such as Yiddishefaygele display intense anger too (no disrespect intended).

    while positivity and a sense of possibility is indeed an asset, you appear to approach this issue completely uncritically. Your article is homo-ignorant, if not homophobic; it fails to talk about the view of people you might have spoken to yourself, fails to discuss what constitutes ‘vilification’ and whether it is the correct issue to treat – you places the issue of homosexuality within the community together with youth alcohol abuse and domestic violence as a ‘problem’ to be fixed, rather than a personal or social issue.

    And you completely fail to explain why – or persuade those who are hostile, which you absolutely must do, if you want to achieve what you’re trying to do – this initiative is worth believing it. Those of who do not trust it have good cause. If you’re going to write about it – let alone give it as a session at Oz-Fest to young people, some of whom may be dealing with these issues – it really is your duty to do this, and you just don;t seem to understand the issues. If you don’t, what you do may be dangerous.

    this is not a matter of politics. this is a matter of people’s mental and emotional health, and their right to be treated equally in ALL ways, with respect.

  • frosh says:

    “Akiva,”

    I cannot believe you are persisting in maintaining this persona.

    Give it up, and apologise to the readers for grossly misleading them.

  • rachsd says:

    First, I should say that at Galus Australis we have a policy of not disclosing any identities that are supplied to us by commenters through the backend. I’m not about to break that policy. None of the details that I am about to reveal were supplied to me in my position as co-editor of Galus. Rather I discovered Akiva’s identity through her own Facebook activity.

    Yes Akiva is a woman. Her name is Jenny Green. She is in a long-term relationship with a man.

    I think the reason that information needs to be disclosed will be obvious to everyone who has read Jenny’s numerous comments on this thread, but for those who have forgotten you can see previous comments by myself and Frosh where we pointed out the reasons why her false persona as a GLBT male was unethical in the current circumstances. Given that Jenny did not take the opportunities provided by these previous comments to desist with her hypocrisy, I decided to take this step and reveal her identity for her.

    If this does not stop her from commenting, perhaps it will at least lessen the pain for those people that she has used her anonymous and false persona to attack.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Yes Akiva,

    I, of course, agree with your final sentiment, we all have the right to be treated with respect and equality. I am not sure why you are unable to see that we want the same thing.
    Sadly, your misrepresentation of what I have written and sweeping assumptions about me, say very little of your ability to consider another’s position in any discussion.

    In the same way that you feel that you have valid views on GLBT causes, so too do many others; gay, straight, orthodox and non-orthodox. Not all are as untrusting or as unhopeful as you.

    Your inability to see this initiative in ANY positive light is extremely saddening, mostly because it does nothing to aid the GLBT cause but rather acts as an obstacle for rational discussion.

    There are many, many GLBT Jews who are very excited about the JCCV’s initiative (three of whom said to me that they wished the initiative had begun when they were in school feeling isolated). And since this article went live, I have received countless emails from them articulating their support not just for the JCCV’s reference group as a positive step, but also for what I have written about it.

    Most are happy that the group contains a mix of gay and non-gay, and orthodox and non-orthodox. It certainly will allow for a far more balanced, pluralistic and inclusive approach to tackling how ALL the Jewish communities, treat GLBT Jews.

    I have described the issue as an extremely important social one, and it is a shame that you have, for your own cause, continued to misread it as my ‘lumping’ it with ‘diseases’, when I, in several posts have already clarified, more than sufficiently, that this is NOT the case, for those of you who don’t read English very well at all. I have stated that it is ANOTHER one of many concerns in the Jewish Community. These issues are wide and varied, and although they are all on a ‘to do’ list of sorts, they are all very different and are all being combated separately to one another. Your insistence that I, or even the JCCV for that matter, have stated otherwise is unfair and entirely unfounded.

    You seem intent on placing GLBT Jews firmly in the sphere of ‘victims’ and any attempt to move forward on this issue is being constantly thwarted.

    Furthermore, you seem extremely keen to paint as enemies those who champion this cause differently to you, rather than seeking to pinpoint and tackle those who do in fact exclude and discriminate against GLBT individuals.

    Just because SOME are not happy about this initiative does not mean that there are not OTHER GLBT Jews who aren’t absolutely thrilled.

    You would do well to consider their feelings too, since you are so very pro ALL GLBT’s, in this matter, not just your own, because they are not necessarily the views of other GLBT Jews.

    It would be great if GLBT Jews were treated with total inclusiveness in the Jewish community, and if some of the items which Ittay referred to in the first post on this thread were incorporated into community life, but there is a long way to go until then and baby steps such as these should be encouraged so that we can get to that point, not treated with derision, distrust or contempt.

    I absolutely will NOT engage with this line of negativity any further.

    One cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.
    To successfully remedy challenges in our community, our palms need to be open.

  • Sibella Batya Stern. Google me if you'd like. says:

    Frosh and RSD

    Don’t you guys know?

    On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

    http://www.labnol.org/tech/internet-dog-cartoon/17469/

    I don’t think we really have a right to comment on the identities behind the computer screen.

  • frosh says:

    Hi Sibella,

    We tend to agree with you.

    However, this was an exceptional circumstance, where one individual was using a false identity in continually order to attack and silence others. Some of her attacks were very hurtful for some of our readers.

    At some point, continually causing people pain ought to have consequences.

    Having said all that, we would still never use back end information to reveal someone’s identity. Jenny Green was openly bragging about her exploits on Facebook.

  • Marky says:

    …..and at least Rchsd used her real identity. She could have (legitimately) posted this under a different name, thereby avoiding any personal criticism

  • Eli says:

    Running a public forum places onus and responsibility on editors, as I am sure they are well aware

    It has taken some time for Galus to implement an active moderation policy, which was quite benign until recently. That policy, which is found on the editorial page is still, in my opinion, insubstantial.

    The site also has no stated privacy policy.

    So the comment that “at Galus Australis we have a policy of not disclosing any identities that are supplied to us by commenters through the backend” is no policy at all except in the minds of the editors.

    This is no longer acceptable in an environment where people’s reputations and personal lives might be in jeopardy.

    If Galus wishes to maintain its policy of allowing anonymous posting, then it must make its privacy policy clear and emphatic. Regardless of how information is obtained about posters on this site, while there is no policy in effect the editors must refrain from posting their names. If they wish to make a point then ban the poster under the moderation policy.

    The disclosure of one of its contributor’s name and her status in my opinion does not de-legitimize, in this case, her opinions or her identifying with the GLBT community.

    Tom Robinson, a well known gay rights activist in England during the mid 70’s is now married with 2 children. That, as Robinson himself implies, does not disenfranchise his commitment to the GBLT community. That is, however, the implication of disclosing Ms Green’s name and status.

    More important is the lack of a disclosed privacy and more detailed moderation policy that may prevent others from actively participating and voicing their opinions with the fear of similar treatment.

    The rules must now be clear and public and not implemented by the vagaries and perceived transgressions, implied or otherwise, by the editors.

  • frosh says:

    Hi Eli,

    First, it’s not about identifying or not as GLBT – in this case, Jenny/Akiva made a big issue out of who can speak on any GLBT-related issues and criticised others, whose sexual preferences she cannot really know, on the basis that she said they were “straight.”

    Second, as already explained, this is not related to privacy of information collected, whether this policy is stated or unstated. Jenny never provided us with any identifying information via Galus. She did, however, make her identity known on Facebook. We simply transferred information already available on one public forum to another public forum. And this, only after several implicit warnings.

    Finally, where people put their email addresses to leave a comment, it does say, “[email address] will not be published.” This privacy rule has not and will not be broken.

  • Anonymous says:

    Frosh and Rachel: As someone very aware of Jenny’s activities, the moniker “Akiva” was not there to pretend to be a man. Yes, it acted as mask of anonymity, enabling the expression of all sorts of hypothetical and real standpoints, all aiding the lively debate Galus Australis intends to engender.

    Though Akiva’s early comments here were clearly written in haste (to which their incoherence attests), she certainly identifies as part of the GLBT community, has participated in many Mardi Gras parades, etc, etc. She identifies with the culture of the GLBT community, to the extent that it exists. And her comments are consistent – though not always clear – regarding that.

    And this precisely is the problem with the article. One of the primary issues of homosexuality in the Jewish community is that the two become key parts of identity, culture and nation. They compete for that position. Both are strong identities partially because they have been and are seen to some extent as outsiders to the majority culture. Certainly, it leaves many very religious (in the sense of a desire for traditional spirituality) homosexuals as outsiders to the Jewish community. This means much of the Jewish community are insufficiently aware of homosexuals (as opposed to homosexuality), and from my experience in the Sydney community, there is certainly an overwhelming homo-ignorance, and much latent homophobia. This is homophobia not in the sense of violence – or even declaring homosexual practice immoral in the manner of some of this comment thread – so much as wariness of homosexual people and culture, childish fear and presumption about femininity in men, and tabooing of homosexual issues at school and at home.

    And despite her clear personal concern with the issue, Malki’s article says very little to give any sense of real awareness of the homosexual experience. And as such, she says very little altogether.

    It is extremely ironic that a commenter was “outed” on this thread. And I concur with Akiva in that if you allow anonymous commenters, you must allow them to maintain that mask, and carry whatever persona they wish, to be moderated like any person speaking under any name. Akiva would be just as anonymous or otherwise if she had chosen a surname for her persona, only you would not as readily identify the mask. Your approach to this defies your role as editors/moderators (surely you could have left Facebook stalking to others) and only continues to damage the name and sake of this web site, which has long forsaken the liberalness it initially sought.

  • Rachel,

    Yes Akiva is a woman. Her name is Jenny Green. She is in a long-term relationship with a man.

    What exactly is the relevance of this revelation?

    I do not believe Akiva has made any misrepresenations in this discussion.

    Please point me to them so I can understand your exact concerns.

    I find this apparent witch-hunt immature and offensive.

    Michael.

  • Akiva says:

    My facebook wall is private, and since neither of you are my facebook friends, you cannot have gleaned this information in that way. It doesn’t really matter to me how you did get it, though. I believe that your actions speak loudly for themselves.

  • Rachel says:

    ok, so clearly I am entering into this discussion late… but isn’t the whole point of this article about the JCCV moving forward in terms of trying to represent the community it is supposed to represent? And if that includes taking steps towards promoting a more tolerant and inclusive ‘community’ (irrespective of individual beliefs/values – other than wanting to identify as part of a Jewish community), then shouldn’t this be a good thing? I agree with some of the comments above that identifying one’s self as part of the GLBT community should not be considered an ‘illness’ – but I think we can establish here that anything which creates a feeling of ‘difference’ – whether that be sexuality, disability, fashion, musical taste or whatever – should be acknowledged as relevant to all who are part of the Jewish community just as much as it is to anyone else in the wider community.
    I believe that sexuality is just one of the many things that the Jewish community will never have a united opinion on – but nor does it need to to be able to acknowledge the issue with respect and tolerance, and assist people to belong to a Jewish community as well as any other community they identify with (be that GLBT or other)

  • Further to the most recent comment from Anonymous, it is evident that the Galus Australis editors don’t understand a great deal about the GLBT community.

    Having “outed” a person on this discussion so blatantly and insensitively, it might pay for them to take a moment to consider the ramifications of having done this.

    I do not know Akiva or anything about their personal relationship/s. However, it may come as a surprise that if a woman is in a relationship with a man it doesn’t mean that either or both of them are heterosexual. Bisexual people enter opposite-sex relationships as well.

    Further, a person can be heterosexual and part of the GLBT community. I have a personal friend who is female, married to a man, identifies as heterosexual but considers herself entrenched in the GLBT community on many levels.

    Outing a person in the way that was done here shows an extreme lack of judgment and commonsense. I don’t know why it was relevant to do this. No one else appears to have been exposed to the same level of scrutiny as Akiva.

    No doubt the editors will find bone to pick with my argument here, or ignore it, as they do when they don’t have a come-back.

    Michael.

  • Daniel says:

    rachsd,

    I didn’t intend to comment further on this post, but I feel I must respond to your ‘revalation’, which i find repugnant and totally anathema to the ethos of a site like galus. Not only does it show an astonishing disregard for the privacy of a contributor (whether or not it breaches formal policy), but it also detrimentally refocuses the debate to questions of identity rather than content. Akiva’s gender and ‘real’ name (whatever those concepts really mean – and I would suggest they don’t mean much) have nothing whatsoever to do with the validity of his points, which is what should be at issue in a forum like this. Moreover, the tone of your post, which suggests that your expose somehow delegitimates everything Akiva has written, demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of ‘queer’, which has nothing to do with who one sleeps with and everything to with politics and identification (‘solidarity’ might be a better word, given queer theory’s distruct of identity). I don’t know Akiva personally, but insofar as he identifies as queer I’m glad to have him onboard – indeed, cynical attempts like yours to negate the power of reason through smear tactics only demonstrate that its not who you sleep with but what you say and how you act that determines one’s belonging under the multuicoloured umbrella (we might say coat) that is queer.

  • frosh says:

    Daniel and Michael,

    I might participate in a walk in support of Indigenous land rights, but that would not have made it moral for me to have claimed Abstudy.

    I strongly empathize with Indigenous Australians. That doesn’t give me the right to pretend I am one and then tell others that they have no right to express an opinion on the matter, because they are not Indigenous.

    You should also be asking what made Jenny assume she knew who was straight and who was gay, when she was telling people to shut up.

  • Daniel Baker says:

    Frosh,

    Your analogy is offensive, because it simplifies membership of both the GLBTQ and the Indigenous Australian communities. Both, to differing degrees, regard self-identification as crucial. For example, many Acts of Parliament addressed to Indigenous Australians requires not only descent, but also self-identification as Indigenous as well as recognition by the relevant Indigenous community. Queer is different, because, unlike race, it can be hidden, and moreover it is not (I would argue) biological in the sense that ‘race’ is (no ‘sexuality’ is, though I don’t regard this as in any way lessening the imperative of full civil rights for queers – in fact I find the whole ‘born gay = equal treatment’ argument unhelpful, insofar as it denies the possibility that a person could actually choose to be gay, and that such a choice could be acceptable or valid). Moreover, queer is all about breaking down exclusionary notions of ‘being’ (gay, straight, Indigenous, etc) and all about doing – not just doing queer in the sense of having same-sex sex, but also in the sense of doing queer politics, queer culture, and queer kinship (all those wonderful things Ilana Leeds hates…) It’s about screwing around with and pointing out the instabilities and absurdities of strict identity categories that never fully capture the incommensurate diversity and changeability of the subject and her world, and that exclude the unreadable, the confusing, the transgressive, and the odd (the ‘queer’) for the sake of the illusory epistemological certainty that you attempt to deploy by insisting that Akiva is not ‘gay’ (a term that, by the way, does not = ‘homosexual’, but denotes one only of the many sub-cultures that have emerged around the phenomenon of same-sex desire). I want to clarify that my point is not to defend everything Akiva has said – in truth, the huge number of posts on this page means I have only skimmed most of them. Rather, my point is that the ‘outing’ of Akiva as a ‘woman’ ‘named’ Jenny Green (again, concepts which queer rejects are artificial, oppressive, and exclusionary, deployed by culture to exercise control over the ‘population’)in no way negates or discredits his claim to be part of the GLBTQ community. Again, I don’t know Akiva – he may very well have entered this debate as some kind of elaborate and deadly serious joke (a very queer thing to do). But if he identifies as queer, who am I – and who are you – to tell him he is not? This highly exclusionary, judgmental, and simplistic approach to who is and isn’t queer, and what it means to be (rather to ‘do’) queer, is precisely the problem with the way this debate has proceeded, and with the very idea of a ‘gay reference group’ at the JCCV.

  • rachsd says:

    Michael, “Akiva”, “Anonymous,” and Daniel,

    First, if you are using the word, ‘outed’, to refer to outing someone as GLBT, then no one has been outed on this site.

    “Akiva” wrote repeatedly against “straight” people discussing this issue. For example, “Why are straight people speaking on behalf of GLBT people anyway?” And, to a participant in this forum, “You simply cannot speak for them. Ever.” She continually made assumptions that other members of the community and participants on this forum were “straight,” degrading their input as, for example, “homo-ignorant.”

    The only ‘outing’ that has occurred is the disclosure of someone’s identity who was using a false persona in order to figuratively shout-down and literally degrade the opinions of other people who she assumes are “straight.” I think that in this case, and given how disrespectful and hurtful this could be for the people that she attacked, I think that this disclosure using publicly available information was appropriate.

    Michael and Daniel, I’m not sure why you were not concerned earlier about “Akiva’s” continual questioning of the sexual identities of others, and her repeated use of their sexuality (or her assumptions about their sexualities) in order to put down other people’s arguments. I am left having to assume that this bothers you only when it is applied to someone who agrees with you.

    “Akiva”, your Facebook page was not private. It was – at least until recently – visible to “Friends of Friends,” meaning that the things that you wrote about commenting in this forum, and about this forum and its editors were visible to thousands of people.

    Finally, whilst identity and sexuality are complex and the fact that someone is a woman in a long-term relationship with a man doesn’t mean that they can’t identify as GLBT, I think that it does mean that they should not cast aspersions on the rights of other people to voice a contrary opinion based on an assumption about those people’s sexuality / sexual identity. This is the case for someone like “Akiva” more than it would be for a man who is in a relationship with a man and who may be excluded in some segments of the Jewish community from, for example, being invited with his partner to simchas (or having his own marriage or commitment ceremony); or for a same-sex attracted woman who might, again, in some segments of the community, have people continually trying to set her up on dates with men or might be made to feel that if she does not marry a Jewish man that she will not be of value etc etc.

  • Ben Wajsbort says:

    ‘Further, a person can be heterosexual and part of the GLBT community. I have a personal friend who is female, married to a man, identifies as heterosexual but considers herself entrenched in the GLBT community on many levels.’

    So Michael, this person is not gay, not lesbian, not bisexual and not a transgender.

    Correct me if I’m thought thats what GLBT stood for and therefore is what it encompasses.
    How can this person then be part of this group?

    Can a Muslim be ‘entrenched’ in the Jewish Community ‘on many levels’? (I’m not drawing comparison just analogising)

    Am i missing something?

    Michael, not for the first time you make extremely little sense. This time it’s just very obvious.

  • Daniel Baker says:

    rachsd,

    I certainly agree that making assumptions about the sexuality/sexual identity of any contributor to galus is unacceptable. However, most of Akiva’s comments were rather more abstracted, decrying generally the arrogant assumption of straight people that they have the right to speak for queers. Again, by straight I don’t mean heterosexual. One can be in an opposite-sex relationship and be queer, and I think conversely that one can be in a same-sex relationship and be straight (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer_theory for a more detailed overview of what I’m getting at). But insofar as Akiva’s point was that those who do not identify as queer have condescendingly assumed the right to speak about and for queers – and the JCCV working group is a prime example of this – it marks a step backwards, rather than forward, for queer enfranchisement in the community.

    At any rate, even conceding that some of Akiva’s remarks may have been ad hominem (again, I haven’t read all of them in sufficient detail to say for certain), I completely fail to see how exposing his ‘true’ name and gender is in any way ‘appropriate’. Ilana Leeds makes many grossly offensive ad hominem attacks; why not expose her telephone number and address, if these are publicly available in the white pages? According to your ‘logic’ (which I wholly fail to follow), this would be ‘appropriate’ (revenge?) Condemn Akiva’s comment if you wish – but your expose is nothing more than smear – pointless, irrelevant, and sensational.

  • Ben,

    Am i missing something?

    Yes. You demonstrate a lack of understanding of what the ‘GLBT’ community is.

    A more useful analogy would be to try to describe the Jewish community. Essentially it is a collection of people who share a common yet different experience. No need to go into the details of what that is with the Jewish community. I’m sure there would be n people and n+1 opinions on what that exactly is and no doubt they’ll be more than happy to share that.

    The GLBT community (or GLBTI, GLBTIQ, GLBTIQQ etc) is not defined by or limited to the ‘alphabet’ of acronyms, sexual orientations, gender identities, etc that have been used here. It is more complex than that. A useful place to start to try to better understand this concept is here on Wikipedia.

    If you are genuinely interested I would be happy to have a discussion with you offline about this. I hope you genuinely care, but if not, then it would pay you not to show your ignorance in trying to belittle me on this topic.

    Michael.

  • frosh says:

    Daniel,

    If you’d actually spent a little less time writing, and a little more time reading, you wouldn’t keep using the pronoun “he” for “Akiva.”

    Illana Leeds, for all her offensive comments, writes them under her own name (and thus is at least in some way accountable for them). She also doesn’t use a fake persona to try to silence people. You comment about publishing her contact details is completely stupid.

    You are right about one thing though: You wholly fail to follow any kind of logic.

  • Rachel,

    First, if you are using the word, ‘outed’, to refer to outing someone as GLBT, then no one has been outed on this site.

    Wrong. You indeed outed the person who was writing as Akiva. Akiva did not volunteer a real identity. Akiva claimed to be part of the GLBT community. You revealed a real name, gender and relationship status of Akiva. I have been advised by the person who writes as Akiva of some personal information that has not come to light in this discussion that makes your actions look even more foolish. However as I respect Akiva I will not be making this information public.

    Akiva may not have wanted the Jewish community to know their real identity and may have had professional and/or personal reasons for remaining incognito.

    Akiva has been deprived of anonymity by you.

    This is a perfect opportunity to discuss Tyler Clementi.

    Only recently Tyler Clementi was surreptitiously filmed, twice, by a college roommate and had a streaming (live) video of him kissing and/or having sex with another man broadcast on the Internet.

    Tyler Clementi’s privacy and anonymity was deprived. He may not have wanted the world to know he was having a relationship or sex with another man. He was very publicly outed and he was not given the opportunity to maintain his privacy, which clearly was a big issue to him, because as a result of being outed he jumped off the George Washington Bridge and killed himself.

    The parallel here is that you outed Akiva and did not consider the consequences, which could potentially be as dire as that of Tyler Clementi.

    You will no doubt continue to justify your actions, but honestly, you aren’t going to convince me, Akiva or anyone else who understands the notion of respecting a person’s privacy.

    Michael.

  • Marky says:

    Jenny Green probably thought that “Akiva” is a girls name.

  • Marky,

    What did you think?

    It may surprise you to know that in fact Akiva is also a girls name. You can read here, here and here.

    Why are you so judgemental of Akiva and what does it matter what name Akiva chose to use?

    Michael.

  • Michael B says:

    I’m straight, and I agreed with everything Akiva wrote. And I’m appalled at the editor’s of Galus Australis response to her disagreeing with them.

  • Michael B says:

    Haha damnit, I thought I’d distinguish myself from Barnett by saying Mike B. Ok I’m the other one.

  • Marky says:

    Michael Barnett, first of all, you just proved that what I wrote is a possibility.
    2. To some-although obviously not to you- on this forum, it does matter.
    And, thirdly, it is you who is being judgemental of me.

  • Marky,

    If only life was always as easy as 1, 2, 3. :)

    Mikey B.

  • Daniel Baker says:

    Wow Frosh,

    Aggressive much?

    My continued use of ‘he’ was deliberate – a protest against your despicable outing of Akiva. Insofar as Akiva remains Akiva on this site, that is the name I will use, and I will continue also to use the pronoun ‘he’. At any rate, your comment, and the almost hysterical concern you have shown with whether Akiva is a man or a woman, straight or gay, illustrate simply (and again) that you fail completely to understand the concept of ‘queer’, probably have not read or at any rate certainly have not understood any of my posts on this topic, and frankly I consider you, by virtue of your refusal to engage in any meaningful way with ‘queer’ – and not for any reason of who you sleep with – to be wholly unqualified to discuss this topic. I reiterate that I fail to understand the logic of your outing only because it is wholly illogical. You have yet to provide a compelling justification for your actions, and simply repeating that Akiva offended people is insufficient to explain them. Of course my comment about Leeds was (in your kind words) “stupid” – my point precisely is that your own publication of Akiva’s details is in no way more principles, more thought-out, or more justifiable. The bottom line is that you and Rachsd (neither disclosing your own full names) have shown yourselves to be common bullies, have really committed a gross violation of the informal and unspoken (if not formal) etiquette of a site like this, and your actions should cause all reading to think very seriously before posting their opinions on this site. I wonder, Frosh, whether there isn’t something of a pattern here – vitriol directed at me, Michael Barnett, and Akiva (all identifying as queer), but an odd silence on the gross bogotry of Ilana Leeds & co (other than a sly remark about her misappropriation of Holocaust memory, and even that comment was combined with a slight against Michael Barnett).

  • Ben Wajsbort says:

    Daniel Baker writes:

    ‘I wonder, Frosh, whether there isn’t something of a pattern here – vitriol directed at me, Michael Barnett, and Akiva (all identifying as queer), but an odd silence on the gross bogotry of Ilana Leeds & co (other than a sly remark about her misappropriation of Holocaust memory, and even that comment was combined with a slight against Michael Barnett).’

    Daniel,

    Be careful of the accusations you make. They are both unfair and baseless (let’s be honest at least half of the posters writing comments here are actually gay). No need to paint yourselves as victims, nobody buys into it quite frankly. How is this any less a form of ‘gross bogotry’ on your part albeit cloaked in subtlety and passivity. Frosh would never target people on that basis and you are only baiting Frosh in this instance. Many a time I have seen Frosh publicly denounce comments by both Ilana Leeds and Shoshana Silcove in particular whether here or in the comments section of other articles to the extent of warning them repeatedly with editor’s comments.

    Furthermore, Frosh and Rachsd are open about their roles as editors on this site. What more of a disclosure could you possibly ask for?

    Regards,
    Ben

  • Ben,

    let’s be honest at least half of the posters writing comments here are actually gay

    At least half?

    Aside from myself, Daniel, yiddishefaygele, Atoz and maybe Akiva (who I don’t believe hasn’t actually stated a sexual orientation), who else commenting here is actually gay?

    Let’s be honest.

    Michael.

  • Atoz says:

    I have for some time restrained myself from responding to this discussion. This discussion has in my opinion veered off track However I wish to make it quite clear that:

    1. I am a male
    2. I am gay
    3. I am Jewish

    I do not claim to speak for the men of this world, the GLBT Community or the Jewish Community so these comments reflect my views only on this discussion.

    I am somewhat disappointed that the Frosh had chosen to reveal the true identity of Akiva. On the positive and negative side, it showed by analogy, some of the consequences of being outed can have on those in the GLBT community who wish to remain private. Frosh could have chosen to moderate Aviva’s postings.

    I think all of the gay correspondents have been male. I know that there is a sizeable Jewish Lesbian community in Melbourne. But we have not heard from them. Furthermore many people who are “straight” do and can identify with the GLBT for whatever reasons. Just like there those who identify with the Jewish community who are not Jewish. Akiva’s sexuality was and is not relevant.

    I recognise that I am writing under a pseudonym and that may be considered to be hypocritical on my part. Nothing in cyber space is truly private. So if you are looking to find me on facebook or other social networking sites good luck. Hard to do so when you are not a member. But for those who really want to talk to me try atoz3161@rocketmail,com. Before you jump down on me Frosh yes this is an email address I have specifically created and will be deleted within a few weeks.

    It was quite regrettable that the JCCV caved into the demands of the Orthodox Jewish community led by the late Rabbi Chaim Gutnick. Many of the constituent members of JCCV would fail the “Jewish Orthodox” test as they are not Shabbat observant or even keep Kosher. Sadly some of these groups followed and voted against Aleph’s application. I believe that the overwhelming majority of Jewish community in Melbourne is “orthodox” (read traditional or cultural) rather than practising Orthodox Jews.

    Michael Barnett’s attacks have been aimed at times against the Orthodox Jewish communities who use that passage in the Bible to deny us any form of legitimacy or recognition. Halacha is Halacha is Halacha and nothing will and can change. But one should also point out that many in the “orthodox “ community also do the same.

    Judaism has changed and will continue to change and is able to change. There are many branches of Judaism some of which are more open to seeking to bring Gay Jews back into the fold.

    I realise that to correspondents like Shoshanna Silcove and Ilana Leeds being gay is an abomination to them and we should be pitied. Yes Shira Wenig I was being quite sarcastic when I made the comment about “love the man hate the sin”. The truth it is hard not to get angry when I hear that comment being made. I am not asking that the Jewish community accept or even tolerate me I ask simply for respect. And that respect has not been forthcoming. It is the same respect I ask for myself that I give to those who are practising and observant Orthodox Jews.

    So where to? Whilst I believe that Malki Rose is a very nice Jewish Orthodox woman I think (note my opinion only) who is seeking to prove her “liberalness” and is seeking to promote some agenda either hers or the JCCV’s. I will apologise in advance if I am wrong.

    Given JCCV’s original cowardice in rejecting Aleph’s application is this reference group a positive step. Yes it is. Time will only tell how positive it is or whether it was a desperate attempt by JCCV to show its relevance. The only flaw (in my opinion) is the lack of transparency of its membership. I understand that some may not wish to be named. Its damn interesting that a noted psychologist doesn’t wanted to be named. Perhaps she is frightened to be thought of as being gay. I don’t know. Or does she think gay is wrong. The majority of the members are ostensibly straight. So what is the loss to their reputation and standing in the community? One of the GLBT members I believe is a well known Jewish transgendered person who as far as I am aware not frightened to be out there and would be marching if she felt her rights were being affected.

    Atoz

  • Mandi Katz says:

    I think you guys might be giving Jenny/Akiva more credit than is due. I reckon she/he was having a bit of sport at our expense.Blogging is a bit of a mug’s game and she/he played us. If Jenny had real and serious reasons for not wanting people to know that she had an alter identity, she wouldn’t have broadcast it on her wall – you’d have to be pretty naive to think your FB friends will keep things you say on facebook a secret….

    I quite liked Akiva. He is/was a grouch but life gives us stuff to be grumpy about. And I think he said interesting things about Jewish identify and about Israel, even though I didn’t always agree with him. I did feel concern for him sometimes though. I wondered what in an adult’s world can make it so difficult to be honest about who you are, and what you feel and think, that you need to take on a pseudonym to express yourself (because it was always clear that this wasn’t a real name).At one point I actually wanted to contact Akiva because I felt for him at having all these strong feelings on Jewish issues and being so constrained by his environment that he couldn’t express himself! Now I think Jenny/Akiva was taking the piss.

    Akiva also didn’t refrain from the occasional personal insult. He told someone to ‘grow a pair’ in response to an article which he thought didn’t go far enough. The sexism and aggression inherent in that comment took me back at the time. Particularly because the person to whom it was addressed is a compassionate, brave and honest person who has never hidden behind a pseudonym and I think has emboldened other people to express themselves more openly on a range of issues.

    There’s a lot of discussion about identity politics in recent posts. It may all be relevant but a lot of it seems like a stretch to me. To me a very old fashioned phrase comes to mind about Jenny’s /Akiva’s behaviour.

    Not nice

  • Mandi,

    Akiva is a real person, albeit using a pseudonym. I have had a brief exchange with Akiva offline and I fail to see why you feel the need to question or mock what Akiva has written.

    As for your concerns about what Akiva wrote on Facebook, I don’t know how anyone could identify Akiva from those comments. There was no connection from what I saw.

    Have you made up the ‘grow a pair’ comment? I cannot find it.

    I read most if not all of what Akiva has written in this discussion and it ranks as amongst the most sensible, sensitive and relevant discussion here, along with what Daniel and Atoz have contributed.

    Mandi, why the cynicism and doubt? I believe Akiva.

    In the Jewish community you are not marginalised, discriminated against or considered by many as abnormal, unworthy or inferior because of your sexual orientation. The least you can do is show Akiva some empathy and compassion.

    Michael.

  • Akiva says:

    Actually, I find the suggestion that I’ve been playing a game more offensive than anything thrown at me so far. I meant every damn thing I said, every single time I posted. Pseudonym or no pseudonym. Why this should be doubted because I wrote – and will continue to write – under Akiva instead of Jenny, I really don’t know. I find it astonishing, given the nature and content of this thread, that the need for some people to contribute anonymously is questioned. surely this is obvious now! at least about this issue!

    And – after the inevitable angry reaction to what I’m about to write, I think that this thread should end, unless people have constructive things to say. I don’t think arguing about my identity / past contributions / camp rating is either fruitful, constructive or interesting.

    I do, however, want to say this. since my ‘outing’, I’ve been contacted by many (not an exaggeration) silent readers of Galus who say that they are gay. This is not something that I sought, I’m deeply uncomfortable with it because I feel that it makes me responsible, and I think that there are better and more useful places for them to turn, places trained to help much more than I can. I wish that Galus had not put either me or them in this position. It would not have happened if Galus had not published my name, instead of just my personal circumstances.

    These private comments have had 2 common features. They have all asked me not to reply, to keep their correspondence private, and they have all explained how hurtful, and incrementally painful they find reading Shoshanna and Ilana’s repeatedly hateful comments and articles on top of the frankly abusive comments routinely addressed to Michael Barnett. I know that there are also glbt people who do not feel this way – Yiddishefaygele on this thread, for example – so I don’t say that all glbt readers are a united block – but those who do feel like this seem to be a substantial number, and their reactions should be considered.

    And this is my final, and main point, about this issue. It is all very well and good to insist that those such as Shoshanna and Ilana have been moderated as heavily as me – which I think is nonsense, of course – but this argument is actually irrelevant. I may have offended people who have commented on this thread, and misunderstood them, but as I think the editors have made abundantly clear, if you dare to comment, you’re fair game. What about the silent readership, who may be vulnerable in this matter? who go looking for things online to read, to help? Shoshanna and Ilana’s opinions on homosexuality and Judaism appear on numerous sites, and come up quickly in a search. However, there are actually very few online places for glbt Jews to observe these public conversations anonymously, without having to commit themselves. And each time these people see that the editors have allowed the comments which say that homosexuality is ‘morally and spiritually reprehensible and destructive to the individual, to the family and to society’ and that G-d thinks this also, it makes it that little bit harder and more painful, creates that little bit more despair. I will never understand why a site like this sees fit to do this, what possible advantage or integrity there can be in such a decision. for the record, as my facebook page attests, it was the editor’s inclusion of Shoshanna’s AJN article which really made me angry and which I singled out for special attention.

    and I chose Rabbi Akiva’s name because he’s a cranky man, and I really like him. Plus, I’m also learning classical hebrew as an adult, and the thought that someone else did it as an old person gives me hope. :)

  • Marky says:

    Rabbi Akiva a cranky man?
    Do you have a source for that, or you just made it up?

  • Akiva says:

    would you rather I described him as ‘strongly opinionated and outspoken’? he was a zealot! that’s all I mean.

  • In today’s On Line Opinion is a piece entitled It’s time to confront the deadliest demon of them all. The author writes about suicide in children.

    This is relevant to the discussion because the way homosexuality is dealt with by many in the Jewish community directly affects the mental health of young people and contributes to suicidal though or behaviour.

    I have been accused of “trivialising” genocide by comparing aspects of it to the way homosexuality is not tolerated in sections of the Jewish community and then “research” is needed to find out how this affects us (GLBT people) and how then to deal with any problems that arise, or ways to prevent it.

    Any systematic behaviour, some may call it abuse, that causes people to feel threatened, in harm, degraded, depressed, worthless, contemplative of self-harm or suicide is only by degrees comparable to genocide. Misery and death are the outcomes, caused directly or indirectly by the attitudes that these people are forced to abide by.

    I don’t make this up. It’s all out there, as I have shown before.

    I maintain my previous stance on this issue, unapologetic.

    Michael.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Michael – I understand that sexual identity is a lot more complex than gender and who you sleep with. Sexuality is part of life and its different for each of us. End of story. I don’t believe I have shown a lack of empathy for anyone because of their sexual orientation, feelings, practice whatever. I don’t feel disrespect for anyone on the basis of their sexuality. I don’t get why anyone does. So you can can the indignation. My response to Akiva was to an elaborate assumed identity which became known to me in conversations we had over the last few months which had nothing to do with his sexuality.

    Akiva – I hear you and while I dont understand your motivation, I accept that it is not for me to assess the merit or otherwise of your reasons for assuming this persona. So I’m sorry that I offended you by saying you’re game playing if you’re not. But you might also keep in mind that you didn’t make your comments in a vacuum. In assuming this persona in these discussions, you invited and accepted disclosures from people in a false capacity, whatever your reasons for that. There are other people here in Galus land. We also have feelings and mine now include a sense of having been duped into responding to you when you were not entirely honest in the way you expressed the views you did, on a range of issues, even if the views themselves were sincere.

    Maybe that how it works in blogland. But you can can the moral outrage. I mean everything I say too. And my and other people’s disclosures were at least as real and deeply held as yours. So I cant help feeling like I’ve been played, but you do seem sincere in your insistence that your views were genuine. Strangely I quite like you and find you interesting (Akiva that is, I don’t know Jenny) – crankiness and all – so I’m willing to accept what you and Jenny both seem to be saying, that game playing wasn’t your intention.

    Michael – I most certainly did not make up that Akiva made a comment to someone to ‘grow a pair’. I try to be honest and sometimes make a dill of myself in the process. It was a comment Akiva made in response to another article. He knows what I’m talking about.

    and Akiva – good luck with the Hebrew. It may be difficult but its worth it.

  • Mandy,

    With reference to:

    My response to Akiva was to an elaborate assumed identity which became known to me in conversations we had over the last few months which had nothing to do with his sexuality.

    and:

    It was a comment Akiva made in response to another article. He knows what I’m talking about.

    Thank you for revealing this. It was not apparent, to me at least, that you had been in prior contact with Akiva. Until this topic I was not aware of Akiva and any associated history.

    Michael.

  • frosh says:

    Daniel Baker,

    Ben Wajsbort (whom I don’t believe I know) has adequately and accurately dealt with your disgusting accusations against me.

    However, I would like to add that you don’t know me from a bar of soap. I have been in contact with several gay friends who are in full support of our actions, and they are offended by “Akiva’s” misappropriation of a GLBT identity in order to silence and attack people.

    Furthermore, as a publisher, I’ve been responsible for publishing a number of articles with the aim of stimulating people to rethink their attitudes and prejudices against gay people.

    Prior to this recent incident, I have known nothing about you Daniel, except that a few months ago you were too rude or arrogant to reply to our emails, even after we facilitated you to save at least a couple of hundred dollars from your Limmud Oz entry ticket.

    I can forgive your general lack of manners, but you do owe me an apology for your repulsive accusations.

  • frosh says:

    A Tale of Gross Hypocrisy:

    Quite recently, on a different thread, an anonymous commenter on this website revealed some personal information about Shoshanna Silcove’s past.

    Whether Ms Silcove deserved this treatment or not, and we call agree (with the obvious exception of Ms Leeds) that she has written some horrible things on this site over the course of time and is worthy of our contempt, is almost immaterial. It should also be noted that the information leaked was unrelated to Ms Silcove’s own rantings, and without context to that thread.

    I don’t know how the anonymous commenter came about the information – I was not able to find any replication of the information via Google.

    What was most memorable was that Michael Barnett was very enthused about this leaking of information, and subsequently even augmented this information for our readers. “Akiva” was also an active commenter, and no condemnation was heard from her on the matter. I don’t recall any condemnation from Daniel Baker either, although in fairness to him, he writes comments more that he actually reads and comprehends, so …

    The point is that our main protestors here lack the consistent principles they claim to be upholding. If they are so concerned about privacy (and let’s recall that “Akiva’s” information came from her own bragging on what was then her own OPEN Facebook wall), then they would have been condemning the anonymous commenter who leaked very private information about the contemptible Ms Silcove.

  • Daniel,

    You’re not alone if you feel there’s a bias against gay contributors on this site who actively challenge discrimination in the community.

    Michael.

  • Anthony,

    I used information that your site published to make an observation using material freely available on the Internet. I was not privy to any secret communications.

    Does you think this exposé excuses your behaviour?

    Michael.

  • frosh says:

    Michael,

    You’d find bias in a trigonometry text book.

  • Anonymous says:

    Frosh, I won’t comment further on this post, except to say that I most certainly replied to your emails post-Galus, and as you should remember (as editor of this blog) I submitted an article which was published on this site as required. It was about Sholem Aleichem, and you can find it here: http://galusaustralis.com/category/author/daniel-ari-baker/
    I appreciated the discounted ticket to Limmud, and complied fully and promptly with the terms of the offer. I’m puzzled as to why you would bring this up, or how it relates at all to the subject matter of this post.

    Finally, I will say for the last time that your posts betray an arrogance and a gross ignorance of queer, both in your insistence that Akiva ‘misappropriated’ the term, and in the way you describe your effort to publish ‘a number of articles’ about GLBT themes. Your condescending paternalism gets no thanks from me – and certainly no apology, either.

  • Akiva says:

    what the? There’s no prior history between me and Mandi (not that there’d be anything wrong with that!). I think she’s referring to another article on this site on which I commented. I’d forgotten about it, but I did indeed tell someone to grow a pair.

  • Min Bmino Batel Brov says:

    Every time this topic is raised, even by well meaning, left leaning, pseudo enlightned types that run this site, it ends in tears why?

  • Akiva says:

    And it is really, really low to try to humiliate Daniel into silence by talking about his private financial arrangements in a public forum. Is is completely irrelevant here. Stop being a bully.

  • Anonymous says:

    Frosh, you’re being a politician. And an angry one. And a blackmailing one. Stop it. It’s not nice, or meaningful. Or constructive.

    The commenters here are not responsible for the content of the site, and it’s silly to claim so or ask them why they were negligent. You are. Do it properly.

    And I think “bragging” is enormous overstatement of what Akiva/Jenny said on Facebook. She shared her upset, which she is surely allowed to do on her wall, which was OPEN only to friends of friends. Hence, it seems, you abused your friendship as well as Jenny’s confidence through this site.

  • frosh says:

    Jenny/Akiva,

    This has nothing to do with his financial arrangements. As usual, you are commenting on something you don’t know the context of. I was referring to his poor manners (although not as bad as yours), but mostly his disgusting unwarranted accusations of homophobia. I have even broken state and/or federal laws in the past in order to show solidarity for same-sex couples, and thus his (and Michael’s and your) accusations are really nauseating.

    And no, I’m not going to elaborate any further, as I’m sure you would report my ‘crime’ to the authorities, as you clearly lack any principles.

    You’ve exhausted and abused our hospitality. No one is forcing you to read or comment on Galus. Why don’t you, Daniel, and Michael Barnett go and hang out on that little hate site Michael runs. I’m sure it still gets about 3 or 4 page views a day, some of them possibly not even by Michael.

    Oh, and “Anonymous” – why would anyone assume you are anyone else other than Jenny?

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    If reading these comments were not so sad, they would be funny. Let’s find something deeper and more meaningful.Here are my wedding albums
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlWSbopbfTo&feature=BF&list=QL&index=4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7YzSPF5kNc&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DviwDmsoG8A&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVidEGKYGC4&feature=related

    and yes there are friends of mine who keep tabs on Michael Barnett’s hate blogs about me and inform me. I have a good laugh with them, because luckily for me, unlike him, I have a good sense of humour and I am secure in the knowledge that I am not the homophobic person and the nasty what was it he called me, ‘Bitch from Hell’ that he has described me as, oh yeah, that’s right and I am of course the abusive bully. Right!! :-D Keep it up Michael. You will run out of vile bile soon and become a more balanced person when you realise that I have not once been abusive of you or others on this site. I debate the issues, that’s is what it is about right?

  • Anonymous is obviously Daniel. I suspect the name field was blank but he claims to be Daniel by virtue of his link to the blog on this site. I actually realise Anonymous has been Daniel all the way through, although I suspect he has not been intentionally trying to hide his name, it just happened that way.

    Frosh, your claims to be supportive of gay people are really heart-warming, but I have not seen you write a single word that demonstrates this support. You constantly attack those who stand up againt the discrimination and when you are challenged on this you deflect the topic and bring in some ludicrous and immature red herring.

    I fail to comprehend why you pen such unpleasant diatribes, especially for someone who maintains a site that could potentially have a stellar reputation. With the flock of trolls and haters who regularly contribute, along with those who are more moderate but still struggle with the 21st century we live in, the merit of the discussions on this site is often reduced to almost zero.

    I don’t know what world you live in, but in the world I live in, most of the views expressed on this site against gay people are considered primitive, unacceptable, anti-social and outright unacceptable. There is no amount of explanation that can justify the intolerance. Try apologising to the parents of a dead child for the bullying and hate they sustained that ultimately led them to take their life.

    You may well care, but you don’t show it very well.

    Michael.

  • Correction. My reference to ‘Anonymous’ excludes the most recent one. That appears to be a different person.

    My blog averages about 40 views/day. I’d rather quality over quantity.

    Michael.

  • Akiva says:

    you obviously have no ear for writing styles. Anonymous isn’t me.

  • Akiva says:

    - but feel free to disbelieve me. because I certainly don’t believe a word you say about your legendary support for queer culture.

  • Anonymous says:

    Why would anyone assume I’m Jenny?

  • Anonymous says:

    Though I am certainly offended at how you are writing to her and others on this thread whom you do not know, and about whose character you have no reasonable measure. And with such blatant arrogance regarding your position on this Site, instead of responsibility.

  • Maybe I was wrong in my last comment. It could have been Daniel as well. Not that it matters.

    Apparently now I’ve overstepped the mark in most of my contributions on this site. I’ve just (offline) been accused of all sorts of things that I fail to comprehend and cautioned to clean up my act. I thought the censorship discussion was on another blog on this site.

    Michael.

  • Atoz says:

    The discussion has no generated into a lot of name calling aided and assisted by Frosh/Rachsd who is/are the moderators and others. This has cheapened the total discussion and degenerated into the type of bullying which many young gay people suffer.

    To Frosh/Rachsd (I received two emails with the same content so I am not sure as to identity of either writer) you carry your martyrdom well and I am sure there is an Order of Australia award waiting for you soon for your bravery.

    I cannot imagine what Federal/State laws you could have broken when showing your solidarity (if you actually did and wearing a pink shirt doesn’t constitute support.) for the GLBT community which would lead you to be reported to the authorities and face prosecution. I could think of one or two laws actually but you claim to be straight.

    I have no idea who you are or even in which state you are in etc and nor am I interested. I guess you should seek immediate legal advice on the current laws, but then again that would affect your martyrdom.

    Atoz

  • Daniel Baker says:

    Only my last comment was ‘Anonymous’ – a mistaken click of ‘submit’ before filling out the relevant field. All other comments have been written under my own name.

  • Daniel Baker says:

    That is, my comment linking to my article on Galus was written under ‘Anonymous’ accidentally – but no other ‘Anonymous’ comment is mine. Frosh, again you reference my poor manners but fail to clarify exactly what you mean. I submitted my article promptly and as requested. It was a business deal which was complied with on all sides. I dealt through Ittay, and had nothing whatsoever to do with you concerning Limmud or my essay. Really can’t see what your problem is (other than a personal dislike of me).

  • Sam says:

    A suggestion for the editors to think about:

    Maybe not run any articles at all that pertain to gay/lesbian persons as the polarazation of commentors is sometimes “very ugly” to read and does nothing to enhance GALUS and the usual good standard that applies to postings in other less emotive topics.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Wonderful,
    I disappeared for a few days and the discussion, with my response to Akiva completey going unheeded, has lapsed into a totally off-topic debacle regarding anonymity and who said what to whom.

    While Akiva’s opinions on the matter count as much or as little as anyone else’s, the discussion is not ABOUT Akiva.

    I don’t fancy that a single one of you actually care a jot for this cause, else you would have focussed on the topic at hand (instead of yourselves) that of moving forward to make the needs of GLBT Jews a priority in the community.

    When you are all done bickering in typical Jewish fashion over who is more a part of which community and who has more of a right to speak and less of a right to speak, and who needs to sue who, please feel free to return to the topic at hand.

  • Akiva says:

    I agree that the conversation is not about me. and, regarding your last post, I didn’t find anything in it to answer, because I don’t think it said very much at all.

    Again, I can only re-iterate that you mean well, but are willingly or naively, I don’t know which, papering over a very large and ugly chasm that *must* be dealt with before you can begin praising ‘community’ initiatives which I, and others, believe are duplicitous and fraudulent. You simply cannot skip this step; it will not work. It is ridiculous to repeat that you don’t want no deal with ‘negativity’ – you decided to enter the fray, and the intense anger and emotional upheaval involved in this issue must be accommodated.

    actually, I’m wrong – there is something to say, and I’ve been meaning to say it for a while.

    I absolutely agree with you that Ittay’s list right back at the beginning was extremely useful. I’d like to hear more from the progressive readers about this (I’m MO, and this is one of Prog Judaism I believe we can learn a great deal from), on the mechanisms they have in place within their shuls, whether they are institutionalized or not, how they work. I think this would be a fruitful line of enquiry.

  • Atoz says:

    to Ilana

    I am sorry you have been bullied. I am sorry that you play the victim whenever you can. I am sorry you are paranoid. I am sorry for whatever

    Malki I agree we have gone so far off topic to the detriment of those who do care about these issues.

    Atoz

  • Akiva says:

    and Malki, it might be useful for you to know that Kim Gottleib (I’m sure you know who is he, but just in case – he’s associated with the Emanuel Synagogue in Sydney and is extensively involved with Dayenu) is participating in Limmud-Oz fest, and I understand that he will be asked to attend your session, and perhaps contribute. You might consider including him somehow, he certainly comes to this issue with a great deal of knowledge and experience.

  • Michael Barnett says:

    Could the moderators please stop these abusive postings directed at me. I have not engaged this commenter and I don’t see why any personal issues she has with me need to come up on this discussion board. For someone who is an anti-bullying campaigner she really doesn’t understand the issues.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Yes Akiva,

    But we’ve all heard you and Michael repeat ad nauseum that you believe the reference group et al to be fraudulent.

    I acknowledged several times that you are entitled to your view on this, but that it is also important to note that there are many many people who DO not agree with you or Michael on this point. (I also suggested in my post in which you found no valid content that instead of attacking those doing their best or whom by virtue of your paranoia you deem ‘suspect’, that you focus your rage on ACTUAL organisations and individuals in the Jewish Community who are ACTUALLY ACTIVELY excluding GLBT Jews… that is real. That is tangible.)

    I am not being naive, because that would suggest that I have no understanding or awareness of what is going on, when in fact I have a rather thorough understanding of most of the details.

    Have you spoken with the JCCV? Do you know or have you spoken with any of the members of the reference group? I have, in much detail and believe, due to being furnished with helpful and accurate information by people whom I know and trust, both people in the GLBT and non-GLBT community, that the preliminary work being done by the reference group is being done in earnest, and at great length. I have absolutely NO reason whatsoever to doubt this based on this information.

    Once again, you and Michael have stated many times that you dont trust the whole thing. I don’t quite see the need to keep stating it. Unless its just to hijack the thread so that others with other opinions are afraid to post differing opinions.

    You dont trust it. Fair enough, but I do. And so do many others, so stop poo-pooing them and all the rest of us, and those who are working hard to make this GLBT reference group happen.

    If the fighting and bickering has passed then there will finally be room here for others aside from yourself, Michael and Daniel to remark on this issue.

    I agree with you that it would be great to hear from members of the Progressive community about some of the mechanisms they have in place.

    But I also would love to hear from readers from the orthodox/modern-orthodox communities on some of their thoughts of creating a culture of inclusiveness.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I actually do not know Kim Gottleib, but certainly would welcome anyone with a wealth of experience being involved with my session. He is more than welcome to contact me. The more the merrier.

    It is important to note the discussion will not be a political one but is entitled ‘Rethinking Leviticus: Rabbinic approaches to Homosexuality”.

  • Daniel says:

    Oh Malki,

    ‘If the fighting and bickering has passed then there will finally be room here for others aside from yourself, Michael and Daniel to remark on this issue.’

    I think I’ve written maybe two posts on this issue – the rest have regarded the outing of Akiva – an issue not, as you rightly say, connected to your article, but an important one nevertheless. It’s really unfair to suggest that I have somehow hijacked the thread, or that anyone cannot post their own opinion re the reference group. you’ve said yours (repeatedly) I’ve said mine (also repeatedly), and many, many others have said theirs (Ilana Leeds, but also Yiddeshfeigele, Frosh, Atoz, Mandi Katz, and many others). Your comment is facetious, mean-spirited, and baiting.

  • Akiva says:

    Malki, why do you trust them? I understand that much of your conversations with them have been private, and fair enough – but I think the question the people you object to are asking is this – please explain to us why you trust them. I’m sure there are reasons, and I think you should share them. This point is why – I, at least – keep repeating the statement over again. I think, given that the organisation is socially conservative and religiously Orthodox in tenor, your assurances should be put a little on the board.

    I’ll find a way to put you in touch with Kim. and on a completely different tangent, I think a halakhic investigation is a very good place to begin.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I have told you that the reason I trust them is because I trust a) some of the individuals involved and b) because I have seen the work some of them are doing and feel it to be done in earnest.
    I dont think anything further that I might say on the matter would make you feel more trusting of it. I believe you have already made your decision on the GLBT reference group, and I dont fancy spending the time to try and make you believe what I believe.
    If you have further queries as to the nature or activities of the JCCV’s GLBT reference group I would suggest you email or phone them for more information and ask them how you could get involved or how you could get some information on what they are actually doing. The other thing you might want to do is perhaps speak with the GLBT Jews in Melbourne that you are involved with or perhaps some that you are not involved with and try and gauge for yourself what the general sentiment is on it.
    Because quite frankly aside from the 3 posters on this thread, everyone I speak to seems very positive about it. So I dont quite think the onus is on me to prove why I believe it. But perhaps on you to prove why you don’t.. except that I don’t really care that you don’t believe it. You are welcome to your opinion. Mine is quite different and I dont feel the need to justify it to you or anyone else.

    What I do feel is that you and I have a shared goal and a common desire to see some good done, and would love to see that become the focus of this conversation.

    Regarding the halachic concerns being a place to begin. Well i’d say it is not necessarily a place to begin as much as a place to GET to.
    The purpose of my presentations is to explore some of these halachic concerns on a textual level, not a forum for complaint or a place to generate political upheaval on these issues. That is for another forum.
    The Limmud presentation is essentially a shiur on some sections of Gemarra and Rambam, so it’s not exactly the correct forum to have a political debate.
    Although all contributions of a rabbinical and textual nature are more than welcome at the session.

    I must say I find it extremely interesting that I have mentioned twice already about the presence of an organisation in Jewish Melbourne which has actively sought to remove GLBT Jews and GLBT content and yet none of the three of you take issue with this.

    I say again that I agree with Mr Searle that the first and absolute priority should be creating a culture of inclusiveness in the Jewish Community. Something which both you and I and thousands of others surely agree on.

  • The Other Michael B says:

    You exclude me Malki. I am extremely of it. That’s four posters. But if you disregard the people who agree with you and the people involved in the organisation, then yes, everyone’s probably supportive.

  • Akiva says:

    I understand your separation of the two issues – the ‘scholarly/legal’ and the ‘social’ (I think) – as an ideal, but I don’t think that, in practice, it will work. Partly because I think it’s a bit too much to ask of those concerned to leave their emotions at the door (or at least to be sure that they’ll be able to) and partly because if you focus on the halakhic issues alone, you will (rightly) face complaints that this is an anodyne way of not dealing with the immense – and in many ways, more pressing – social concerns. while if you focus on the social issues exclusively you will (rightly) face complaints that you are fudging the cold hard facts, and creating a culture of lip-service to the god of PC, which is fundamentally unsustainable and untrue. Not saying that either of these plans of attack aren’t a good idea – but I think the two aspects are too muddled to easily separate. I have no solution, for this, except to get advice from people who have been negotiating this professionally. In your shoes, I would be scared of hurting people.

    Personally, I think that halakha is the place to start (I’m aware that this will expose me to some ridicule!), because without serious agitation on that level, the only way the wider orthodox community can behave reasonably about glbt issues is either to go against the stated principles, or to frame the issue as one of compassionate leeway – in which glbt issues are sort of seen as an unfortunate mishap, like drug abuse, depression, or debilitating old age which need the community to help people in their time of need. I don’t think that’s at all appropriate, given that sexual orientation isn’t a problem, nor does homosexuality need apologising for or excusing, and I think it might be better for glbt people to turn to organisations who frankly and outspokenly support them rather than community organisations who aren’t so clear-cut. This may change.

    If such a thing were possible, an official, open and tolerant school programme would work absolute f**cking wonders.

  • Akiva says:

    Oh – and in terms of the organisations that actively try to remove glbt content etc – this is the stuff I’ve come to expect from community organisations, and rather than bothering with these ones, I think it’s more effective to make damn sure that the ones who DO deal with glbt issues are doing it helpfully and honestly.

    I’m in Sydney. And just anecdotally, the only orthodox rabbi in town who is clear about happily including glbt congregants with no apparent wish to diminish their identification or ‘help’ them in some way is the Rabbi at Newtown Shul (he’s moving to Melbourne at the end of the year – our loss, your gain). and he’s a chabadnik, if an unconventional one. go figure. For various unrelated reasons, I’ve spoken to a number of MO Rabbis over the past year, and he’s the only such one I’ve come across. Only one other Rabbi was what i would call ‘sympathetic’, but there is no way he would speak about it publicly. Of the others here, pretty much all of them are on the record as ranging from the outrightedly hateful to the sorrowful (homosexuality is an illness and therapy will help you become straight) to the mildly uncomfortable and silent. NO idea where you start with that.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Akiva,
    I certainly see the way the two sides are muddled together, and it may be that some cannot separate the two, or in fact that they appear to be inseparable.

    I believe, and I am not alone, that the emotion DOES need to be left at the door, else very little rational discussion can be had on the matter.

    You have touched on something extremely important. The reason why most people feel that the halachic issue is inextricably muddled with the social one.

    You have said that the only two orthodox approaches to acceptance of GLBT are
    1. to go against the stated principles
    or
    2. to frame the issue as one of compassionate leeway.

    As we know the 1st option is unpleasant and halachically problematic, leaving many people, both GLBT and non-GBT at odds with the Torah.
    The 2nd option, although kind in its intention and very popular creates the problem of causing people to view GLBT as a kind of ‘mishap’, as you mentioned, and something to be pitied and viewed as a disease, like drug or alchohol abuse.

    Interestingly, that is the purpose of my Limmud session. To see that there is actually a 3rd unexplored option. And that is in entirely rethinking the alleged Torah perspective on homosexuality.
    It seems it is more those who interpreted it, than the Torah itself, who took issue with it.
    The fact that Jewish and Christian communities accept this stance without questioning it, sadly says more about their own need to justify their own homophobia than about their dedication to the Bible.
    (i.e. to say “Well the Torah is clear on this, so there’s just no room for discussion”, is all a rather convenient way of avoiding discussion.)

  • Whilst outside the Jewish context, this sad story paints a picture of the scenarios I describe:

    http://prideinutah.com/?p=5686

    I don’t see how this situation would be different in a Jewish context.

    Michael.

  • Akiva says:

    How will this ‘take’ be different from dealing with the halakha? I’m not sure that I understand the difference.

    The little I know about the halakhic issues suggests that this issue is not subject to the various possible rabbinic mitigations – are you intending to question the translation of specific words, as you have done in your piece about hair-covering? Or something else?

  • rachsd says:

    Given that the JCCV is supposed to be a roof body organisation that represents all segments of the Jewish community, it would be problematic for them to say anything about the specifics of Halacha. As Michael Barnett has pointed out in this thread, arguably the JCCV currently tends to represent Orthodox segments of the community better than Progressive, Conservative and secular, which is problematic. If the JCCV were to get involved with the specifics of Halacha, this would not only make them unpopular with the Orthodox community (because as an organisation of lay people, they have no authority to do so) but also with the Progressive and secular segments of the community for whom Halacha is not considered binding.

  • Thank you Rachel. I’m glad somewhat has taken notice of what I’ve been trying to say for the past year or more.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Hence the need to make it an issue of community inclusiveness rather than one of Halacha.

  • Doug Pollard says:

    A fascinating, if rather overheated, discussion. As a gay non-Jew may I add my two cents worth by observing that by far the most offensive and ignorant remark among many such from certain posters was “The norm is the heterosexual way of being.”

    It’s not. It is very common among mammals but it is not ‘normal’.

    The norm throughout is a broad range of sexual diversity and fluidity, as anyone who studies human and animal sexuality will tell you.

    Trying to impose heterosexuality on everyone while demonising everyone else, as some of the commenters here have done, is not only wrong and deliberately cruel, it flies in the face of the facts.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Thanks Doug,

    The individual was off topic, incorrect and attempting merely to be inflammatory. Aside from one or two deranged individuals I dont believe anyone, and certainly not the author of the article was trying to impose heterosexuality on anyone.

    You’ll notice by reading the article that the discussion is about creating a culture of inclusiveness in the Jewish community where everyones rights are equal.

  • Akiva says:

    But indicative, nonetheless, that that’s what he took away from the discussion. That is largely my point.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Yes, indicative of what was put into the discussion.
    It’s rather sad that thus far the discussion has neither reflected the purpose of the article, its clear contention nor any of the questions raised IN the article.

    That is indicative of the commenters only.

  • Nathan says:

    Malki, at the end of your essay you say “More than 10% of teenagers find themselves facing sexual identity issues”. Many children start forming a sexual identity before they even hit their teens, perhaps as they start puberty. I know I started having sexual thoughts around the time I was ten.

    The attitudes that need to change are those that impact children when they are really young. At the moment I would think most parents and peers program little children to expect to have opposite-sex partners by default and that they should find a boyfriend if they’re female, or a girlfriend if they’re male.

    But the childen need to know that it’s ok to have a boyfriend if they’re male and a girlfriend if they’re female. This is going to require a major change in attitude if people are serious about it, and I would say that any for initiative to be truly successful, it cannot aim at just working with teenagers, who are most likely already facing a serious struggle with their sexual identity.

    What are your thoughts on that?

  • Malki Rose says:

    Thank you Nathan,
    I completely agree, like all young people, the formative years of sexual identity may be significantly, or a little earlier than necessarily adolescence, and as you say the formation of general notions of sexuality are heavily influenced by what is presented to them from a very early age.

    I once heard a 6 year old remark to his parent, after consistently observing two women in each others company since he was a toddler, “Mummy, when are they going to get married?”

    His innocent assumption was extremely telling. He had not been told, until that point, anything to make him think this was NOT a perfectly normal step for everyone he perceived as a ‘couple’. Sadly, he was immediately told by his parent that people of the same gender don’t get married.

    Imagine if the parent’s reply had been different. What a different view he would have today.

    And what’s more so, if, hypothetically, that boy was to struggle with his own sexual identity in coming years, how unfortunate that those words from his parent would ring out in his head, constantly reminding him his parents already (since he was 6 years old) disapprove and reject him.

    So in answer to your point, yes, there needs to be a way in which the automatic assumptions about sexuality and the narrative of love be framed in a way which does not exclude or isolate anyone’s very unique and individual journey.

    I suppose it’s returning social perception to the natural way we WOULD have all thought had no-one told us otherwise.

  • Nathan says:

    That’s a poignant story Malki. Thank you for sharing it.

    We seem to agree that children start forming stereotypes about romantic, intimate relationships, ie what is acceptable (eg: between two people of any gender) and what is not (eg: two siblings or close relatives – society does not permit such life-relationships) at an early age, based on cues they derive from role models and their environment. I would posit there is widespread understanding and acceptance of this notion.

    With that being the case, this raises a concern in my mind about the purpose of the reference group “to gauge the needs of GLBT Jews in Victoria” as you wrote in your essay.

    All children are impressionable and need to be nurtured from the outset in the safest way possible, as no parent can ever know in advance the sexual orientation of their children. Just take the case of the rugby player Ian Roberts. Who would ever have thought he would grow up to be gay?

    That being the case, I feel the above statement “needs of GLBT Jews” is an overly simplistic, perhaps even naive (at best), view of the challenge we face. It’s everyone’s children or grandchildren that we’re talking about here.

    Thank you for your previous response. I await your next.

  • Adam says:

    Malki,

    Do you believe that all sexual orientations should be destereotyped and accepted? For example incestuous relationships? Or are you merely stating that the relationship or sexual orientation does not necessarily need to be deemed acceptable but rather the people involved should still be treated with respect?

  • Malki Rose says:

    Nathan
    I agree that “to gauge the needs of GLBT Jews” is by far an over simplification of a multifaceted issue.
    This was a phrase which Mr Searle put to me as a (very) basic, general goal of the GLBT reference group. There are obviously a plethora of issues within issues, and a variety of grassroots sources they are looking at to address only what would no doubt be the proverbial ‘tip of iceberg’.

    I also mentioned in my article and several times since that it is important to remember we are talking about people’s children and families. As you have just done.

    What this conversation and others require are genuine thoughts on some solutions to addressing some of the issues and challenges that children, adolescence and adults are facing. The include, but are in NO WAY limited to school programs, mental health support, Jewish community support across all (not just the Progressive) communities, synagogue involvement, social support, family support and the list goes on.

  • Nathan says:

    Malki, yes, agreed. But this is starting to sound more like a case of putting a small bandage on a gaping wound, or in more poetic, clichéd style, rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic. If the problem is so endemic, as is becoming more and more apparent, is it really the place of the community roof body to try to attempt to patch the problem when, as yet, it can’t even define it?

  • Malki Rose says:

    I am not sure they are not seeking to define it as best they can.

    I think it would be presumptuous to believe that given the multi faceted nature and sheer magnitude of the issues involved that ‘definition’ would even be possible.

    What may very well be possible is to identify ASPECTS which they believe they can remedy, and focus on working with those aspects.

    The key aspect being to propagate a culture of inclusiveness in our community, with a zero tolerance policy towards exclusion.

    If the reference group, JCCV or any other organisation were to sit in boardrooms attempt to define the precise nature of every single aspect of this, they would no doubt be sitting around for many many years, much like politicians, breathing lots of hot air, being well intended and never getting anything done for its ‘constituents’.

    A definition can be a problematic thing for a group of people on any committee to agree on, anyone who has ever sat on one will know this.

    The best any committee can do, is come up with a definition agreed on by most, and hopefully starting doing the work they came together to do in the first place.

    I believe that a committee need only re-address the accuracy of that definition/goal if they find that it is proving unmanageable or unachievable.

    No doubt there will be aspects of their approach which while some will find pioneering, pragmatic and helpful, others may find insufficient.

    Assumably those ‘others’ would either be involving themselves with the initiative to try and make it better, or be off somewhere pursuing these goals in another way, rather than standing in the wings offering staunch criticisms and little else.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I also note that you say “is it really the job of the community roof body to try and attempt to patch the problem”….
    I note that until recently, the roof body was constantly being criticised for not doing so. (although I disagree with the assertion that they are merely ‘patching’.)

    And when they eventually do, they are still castigated.

    The poor buggers can’t seem to win.

  • Nathan says:

    Malki, from what I’ve been able to make of the situation, my understanding is that there was dissatisfaction expressed that the JCCV were refusing to make a public statement that there was actually a community-wide problem relating to sexual orientation. I haven’t read there were any concerns that they weren’t trying to fix any problems.

    The JCCV seem very vocal in making statements around community-wide issues such as alcohol consumption, sexual abuse, mental health issues and family violence, all of which you have made reference to in your essay.

    To date the most that the JCCV has said (I just found their media release from December 2009) is that the reference group would “address issues of vilification and discrimination against GLBT Jews as well as mental health issues occasioned by exclusion”.

    I guess I am confused because I don’t see how this statement fits in with what you are talking about and how the JCCV seem to be saying that it’s ok for some religious groups to maintain an halachic perspective on homosexuality.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I am not sure why you are confused, Nathan.

    As you’ll notice in my article, Mr Searle was really quite clear that JCCV are not a position to tackle this from a halachic stance… nor would they. To expect otherwise seems unfair.

    I have no problem with their statement.

    Of course there will always be people who find any statement, unsatisfactory.

    I am not sure why it is you do not find this statement be be a sign of them taking things in the right direction.

    When you first posted, you seemed genuine in your interest in this issue and looking to make constructive comments to perhaps add to and further what it is that the reference group has already begun. In fact, your remark about helping to change the message being given to very young people was one which I felt to be the most constructive and positive thus far and certainly something the GLBT reference group would be able to utilise in its grassroots approach, but you seem to be changing your tack and leaning back towards Mr Barnett’s approach of poo-pooing it all and finding no amount of effort from anyone to be nearly sufficient enough. This is a great shame.

    Perhaps I am misreading your comments, but if that is your position I am afraid I will be unable to continue responding to you, as I believe this would be, as it is with Mr Barnett, a totally fruitless line of discussion.

  • Nathan says:

    See Malki, that’s precisely what I am talking about. I have been following this conversation quite closely now and I feel I am getting some clarity on the issues.

    You really liked the discussion about changing the ideas and attitudes presented to very young people. That becomes the cornerstone of the discussion, yes?

    And yes, you concur that it is not the place of the JCCV to discuss halacha. Correct.

    The part that confuses me, which you seem to want to avoid, is that the loudest complaint about the JCCV on this topic is that they endorse (condone, support, call it what you want) or refuse to back away from the right for certain segments of the community to uphold practices that you and I have agreed upon here need to change.

    So I am confused because they are sending clearly mixed messages.

    However I find there is a lot of merit in what you are standing for and I hope you are able to continue to raise visibility of these issues through discussions such as this. It seems very few people in the community are as forthcoming as you to voice an opinion on this topic.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Nathan,
    You say that I am trying to avoid discussing the ‘fact’ that the ‘JCCV…endorse the right for certain segments of the community to uphold certain practices that you and I have agreed need to change’.

    Firstly, I don’t believe this is a fact.

    1. What ‘segments of the commmunity’ are you referring to?
    2. What ‘practices’ of theirs are you referring to? Are they policy? Or are they more subtle and/or insiduous than that? (such as the one I referred to being perpetrated by one of the board members of Lion FM (a practice not endorsed by either Lion’s constitution nor its other members.)
    3. Where and when have the JCCV issued a statement which says they endorse such ‘practices’?

  • Nathan says:

    Malki, I will answer your questions, although I am surprised you need answers given the previous conversations that others have been posted earlier in this discussion.

    1. The segments of the community are the Orthodox (etc), excluding the Reform/Progressive & Masorti/Conservative.
    2. The practices are halachic intolerance of homosexuality. This is by definition ‘policy’.
    3. I have not seen any such official statement saying the JCCV endorse this, however I have read blogs posted by “Mr Barnett” (as you wish to refer to him) and on numerous occasions he has states that John Searle has made such claims. One particular blog that makes this claim appears here: http://bit.ly/9hdQPC

    Now given that you have quoted John Searle and given that Michael Barnett has quoted John Searle, I would assume that both of you have had conversations with the man. I would also assume that both of you are accurately representing what you heard him say. I have no reason to doubt either of you.

    In my previous note I did say “endorse …” or “refuse to back away from”. The JCCV haven’t put in writing what Michael Barnett states, but they also haven’t distanced themselves from it.

    Whether you believe this as a ‘fact’ or not, it has been said, and it really does need to be challenged, because it raises genuine and legitimate issues. If it is true, and so far that is how many see it, then it is problematic.

  • Malki Rose says:

    “Nathan”,

    So in other words, the JCCV have NOT endorsed the practice of exclusion of GLBT Jews.

    A claim you made two posts early along with the accusation that I wish to avoid discussing this fact.

    I addressed your allegation (which you made using the ‘mikeybear blog’ as your gospel source for JCCV statements) and asked you to specify what precisely the practices are, which segments engage in them, if they are official policy or subtly engaged in by some individuals rather than the entire ‘segment’, and most importantly, considering the seriousness of your allegation, when and where the JCCV have endorsed these actions or practices.

    It is gravely, socially irresponsible to make such allegations.

    Especially when the JCCV after so many years of being asked, nay begged, to get involved with supporting the GLBT community, are doing there level best to research and put grassroots programs into action to support them.

    This is all a good thing. I believe it is you who wishes to avoid recognising certain facts.

    This is indeed unfortunate for the those who seek to move forward, both GLBT and non-GLBT.

    I now see where you are coming from on this and your agenda is clear.

    I would suggest to you and others who wish to consistently derail constructive conversation about how we as a community can SUPPORT this initiative, to instead contact the JCCV directly, perhaps via email so that it is in writing, and share some of your concerns with them privately. That is if those concerns are genuine.

    Further remarks on this thread which aims to derail the initiative, which aims to help people, will be viewed as destructive and necessarily vilifying.

    Thank you for your earlier wonderfully constructive comments which initially seemed to be ingenuous.

  • helen s. says:

    oy vey.

    malki.

    when someone makes a claim such as what we’re hearing it doesn’t bode well for your credibility when you say it plain isn’t the case.

    clearly you have a vested interest in keeping good with the jccv, so you aren’t going to question them. doing that would wreck your chances of glory, or whatever it is you are in this for.

    you have no impartiality on this matter. can’t you see that? you are in conflict.

    these questions that we’re hearing from nathan, who has made a clear and logical case, bother me. why don’t they bother you?

    helen.

  • Malki Rose says:

    Helen,

    “When someone makes a claim… it doesnt bode well for your credibility when you say it isn’t the case”

    His persistent insistence that it IS the case does not amount to a logical argument.

    Furthermore, if someone IS to “make a claim” as ‘he’ has, it behooves him to demonstrate and provide evidence for such a clearly falsifiable claim.

    I have engaged with him on his claim. I asked him where and how this is the case and he failed to support his allegation. He only insisted, like you do, that I find them valid… because ‘we’ve said so’.

    I have no vested interest in the JCCV except for my being part of the Jewish Community and wanting, assumably like everyone else here who claims to care, to see it flourish IF it indeed serves our needs.

    The JCCV are fully aware, and so are most who know me, that I take absolutely no issue at all with offering, what I hope is, CONSTRUCTIVE criticism where I see it prudent.

    As I have said many times, I, like many others, see this initiative as extremely positive is evidence which speaks for itself of something good, and I see no value in sending good energy after bad in trying to prove otherwise to three naysayers who will NEVER see any good in any Jewish community initiative, because their hurt, disgruntlement and vendetta runs too deep.

    Because Nathan initially seemed to be earnest in his involvement, I trustfully engaged with him.

    It is unfortunate for the Jewish GLBT community because this thread was a great opportunity for everyone to put in their constructive 5 cents on how to move forward on this issue, and sadly the naysayers have taken it repeatedly off topic to use it as a forum for attempting (and failing) to discredit the JCCV.

    Ordinarily on Galus Australis, when ‘hijackers’ take the thread off topic ad nauseum, the editors see no value in keeping a thread open and usually close it.

    Initially it seemed that Nathan was the guy to turn this ship around.
    Sadly not.

    hopefully in coming days others will be able to do so.

    This is an important forum for GLBT jews and it is darn right selfish of ‘you’ to use it to your own ends and take this opportunity away from those who need it.

  • Malki Rose says:

    I haven’t done anything.
    So I am not sure what on earth you are referring to.

    Since you appear to have been sleeping under a rock and unable to read the english text of the article or any subsequent remarks, I will make it clear.

    NEWSFLASH: The JCCV have set up a GLBT reference to gauge what might need to be done to support the needs of GLBT Jews and create a culture of inclusiveness in the Jewish Community.

    What you seem unable to understand is that I am expressing disappointment at several embittered individuals insistence on poo-pooing the JCCV (certainly not my) incentive) and ruining the conversation for everyone.

    That means the entire community.

    Embittered comments will not be answered in future.

  • Boy in Perth says:

    The Orthodox gays seem to face the greatest challenges.

    Trio shines light on being gay, Orthodox in Israel.

    Boy in Perth.

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