Does Keshet have the numbers?
By Bracha Rafael:
It is unclear if Keshet will be successful in its bid to join the Jewish Community Council of Victoria. Keshet is the second Jewish LGBTIQ advocacy group to attempt to join the JCCV. Aleph Melbourne’s bid back in 1999 was unsuccessful. The JCCV will vote on Keshet’s proposal this Monday.
In previous years, groups seeking to gain entry to the JCCV required a two-thirds majority to succeed.
The leaders of most affiliate bodies surveyed by Galus Australis felt that Keshet’s success was a fait accompli. This assumption is understandable given the JCCV’s efforts in recent years to prioritise social inclusion. But the numbers that are emerging indicate that Keshet’s success is far from certain.
Of the 52 affiliate bodies listed on the JCCV’s website, 15 are orthodox institutions with religious services as their core business. These are, for the most part, the established suburban synagogues. This number includes the Council of Orthodox Synagogues Victoria. Interestingly, the COSV did not rule out a vote in favour of Keshet’s inclusion. Yossi Aron, COSV Executive Director, said that the COSV’s vote depends on the Rabbinical Council of Victoria’s ruling on the matter, which was still in discussion at the time of writing.
The presidents of many orthodox synagogues have indicated personal support for the move, but have deferred making public comment on the matter until their respective boards have reached a decision. Bucking the trend, Victor Rosenberger, president of the Kew Hebrew Congregation, declined to share a personal opinion but stated that the KHC would vote in favour of whatever the JCCV leadership recommends.
The first—and so far, only—group to report that they will not be supporting Keshet’s bid for affiliation is the Australian Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry.
There are, however, many organisations who have been vocal in their support for Keshet.
Sam Meyerson, President of AUJS Victoria, confirmed that AUJS will be voting in favour of the motion. “We are a pluralistic organisation and we firmly believe in inclusivity,” she said.
Sam Tatarka, President of the Zionist Council of Victoria, was also avidly pro-affiliation. In a written statement, he said: “All organisations that meet JCCV’s constitutional requirements ought be admitted to the roof body of our community. Gender or sexuality should play no role.” The ZCV represents 52 Zionist organisations based in Victoria.
Sean Meltzer, an associate of the Jewish Community Arts & Media group, expressed surprise that the question was even put to him. He confirmed that JCAM will support Keshet’s bid.
Louisa Gibson, an associate of Access Inc, a group active in the disability sector, could not confirm how Access will vote, but said that she saw obvious commonalities in the missions of Access and Keshet. “Access advocates for our community to accept people in all the variety that makes up humanity,” she said.
Many JCCV affiliate groups, like Access, promote socially progressive causes and boast policies of social inclusion.
At the time of writing, 34 JCCV affiliate bodies had not yet responded to Galus Australis’ requests for comment.
Galus will be updating this story as more information comes to light.
Watch this space.