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Keshet update: strong support as Jerusalem reels

August 2, 2015 – 11:48 pm2 Comments

By Bracha Rafael:


Sebastian Scheiner/AP Photo

The upcoming Keshet vote at this Monday’s Jewish Community Council of Victoria plenum has taken on a new significance following the stabbing attacks in Jerusalem last Thursday. Six participants in Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade were stabbed by Yishai Schlissel. Schlissel is the same man who carried out the knife attack at the 2005 Gay Pride Parade. He had recently completed a ten-year jail sentence for those crimes.

In a public letter, Bialik College principal Jeremy Stowe-Lindner laments Schlissel’s act of “baseless hatred” and urges the community to embrace the opportunity to “make a positive stand for inclusion.” Keshet’s affiliation with the JCCV “should not be a matter of debate, but simply a matter of fact,” he said.

Mr Stowe-Lindner is far from alone in his support for Keshet’s bid. Indeed, most JCCV affiliate organisations seemed surprised when Galus asked which way they would be voting on Monday. That Keshet, an organisation devoted to the preservation of Jewish lives, might not be accepted struck them as absurd.

Brian Samuel, President of Progressive Judaism Victoria, said that the PJV had been early proponents of Keshet’s bid for inclusion.

In an earlier statement to Galus, Mr Stowe-Lindner indicated that Bialik would be voting yes, adding that “Bialik is a proud member of the Safe Schools Coalition which supports LGBTI students and education in schools.”

Bill Appleby, CEO of Jewish Care, indicated that Jewish Care would be voting yes and directed Galus to the organisation’s position statement on LGBTIQ inclusion.

Gary Samowitz, CEO of Stand Up (formerly Jewish Aid), said that the Stand Up team “see this as a no brainer.” He added: “It would be a real travesty if they are rejected from our peak communal body.”

As published in the Australian Jewish News, St Kilda Hebrew Congregation intends to vote yes.

As a Masorti rabbi who has penned a teshuvah in favour of marriage equality, it is hardly surprising that Rabbi Adam Stein of Kehilat Nitzan will be voting yes on Monday. Rabbi Stein added that the Kehilat Nitzan board voted to support Keshet when they first arrived in Australia in 2011.

Dr Nicky Jacobs, President of Australian Jewish Psychologists, indicated that the AJP will be voting yes, as did Maccabi President Joe Dorfman.

There have been no confirmed votes against Keshet’s bid other than the Australian Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry, as reported by Galus last week.

However, the North Eastern Jewish Centre has declined to comment, citing board policy not to “declare its stance.” And the National Council of Jewish Women, which hold two votes at the plenum, will determine their position on Monday, just prior to the JCCV meeting.

At the time of writing, B’nai B’rith had not responded to Galus’ requests for comment. B’nai B’rith is the only JCCV affiliate with eight votes—the maximum possible number—not to make its position public.

Progressive Judaism Victorian and the Zionist Council of Victoria are the other affiliate groups with eight votes. AUJS Victoria has seven. All three organisations have publicly indicated their intentions to vote yes.

Update: Minutes after this article was posted, Haaretz reported that Shira Banki, a 16-year-old victim of the Jerusalem knife attack, has died from her wounds.

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  • Sol Salbe says:

    I think that if you wish to express an opinion on the Israeli Justice system you should do it explicitly. But in Australia we do have the presumption of innocence, EVEN under the kind of circumstances where photographic evidence of the crime is available. So it should be the ALLEGED assailants. Otherwise it’s the thin edge of the wedge.

  • letters in the age says:

    It’s a tragedy and my heart bleeds for the poor 16 year old girl who died expressing her Freedom to be herself. ..!!

    Israel has a problem that the diaspora should be very concerned about and adress constructively in a thoughtful manner

    I hope the next generation of Jewish politicians like Josh Frydenberg et al become more inclusive and open to diversity by passing same sex marriage laws

    I’m very optimistic for the future nevertheless.

    Those crusty old conservatives in Jewish Inc need to move on and adapt to change

    Hardline views aren’t attractive to a younger demographic

    Moderate politicians will survive and are much stronger in a Modern Day Australia

    Mr Obama’s legacy is a case in point.

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