A celebration of identity

Dayenu members and supporters practise their parade choreography in front of the Dayenu float. Photo: Toby Evans (Toby Centre Photography).

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) president Jeremy Spinak joined over 70 members of Sydney’s Jewish community who took part in this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras as part of Dayenu’s float last weekend.

Dayenu is a Sydney-based group run by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) Jews and has a float each year at Mardi Gras.

“Many LGBTIQ people turn away from the synagogue and their traditions when they perceive that being queer and Jewish don’t mix,” Dayenu’s David Rosenberg told The AJN.

“Religion is occasionally misused by families and community leaders to ostracise those who ‘go against the grain’.”

This year, Dayenu’s float included a large Star of David and a menorah-inspired light display, and participants took part in a choreographed dance routine while walking with the float along the parade route.

“Our float was nestled between the Catholics and the Muslim floats, and it is clear that every religious LGBTIQ group is there to assist those who grapple with the very real struggles between their faith and sexuality,” Rosenberg said.

Spinak, who visited the Dayenu contingent as they prepared for the Mardi Gras, told The AJN that he was “proud to be there to demonstrate support”.

“We must stand up against discrimination directed at LGBTIQ [people] in the wider community, but also within our community,” he added.

“We need Jewish LGBTIQ members to feel that they belong in our communal institutions and that they have a voice in our community.”

The parade float was not Dayenu’s only celebration for Mardi Gras.

Alongside a stall at the Mardi Gras Fair Day in Newtown, Dayenu teamed up with Emanuel Synagogue in Woollahra to host 90 guests for the Annual Mardi Gras Shabbat dinner last Friday evening.

Guests attended Emanuel’s Shabbat services led by Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio and Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, before enjoying a three course meal.

The evening also welcomed various guest speakers, including a message of support for Dayenu from the NSW JBOD delivered by its community relations manager Lynda Ben-Menashe.

“Both the Shabbat service and dinner, as well as the parade, were a massive success,” acting president of Dayenu Jonathan Solomon said.

“We are fortunate in having such supportive rabbis in Rabbi Ninio and Rabbi Kamins.”