Shul support for Keshet JCCV bid

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

KESHET Australia’s bid to join the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is set to receive support from St Kilda Hebrew Congregation and several other organisations, The AJN learnt this week.

JCCV members will vote on Monday night on whether to accept Keshet. If successful, it will become the first group representing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community accepted as an affiliate.

The organisation’s stated aim is to “challenge ongoing prejudice and discrimination within the Jewish community, including investigating the experiences of all Jews who may or may not feel able to come out”.

The stance of St Kilda Hebrew Congregation is significant, as when Aleph Melbourne, a social and support group for the GLBT community, asked to join in 1999, its bid failed after several Orthodox synagogues threatened to quit the JCCV.

“It is the view of St Kilda shul’s board and Rabbi [Yaakov] Glasman that abusive behaviour is unacceptable in all its forms and based on Keshet’s stated objectives, namely to prevent abusive behaviour towards gay and lesbian members of the Jewish community and to act for them as a support group, we believe it should be included as an affiliate of the JCCV,” St Kilda Hebrew Congregation president Anton Block said.

However, when approached by The AJN this week, the Council of Orthodox Synagogue of Victoria and several other shuls in Melbourne said they had not reached a formal conclusion and did not want to comment.

St Kilda shul will be among a number of organisations supporting the Keshet bid, including the Australasian Union of Jewish Students.

“We think it’s important that there is a group that promotes acceptance and inclusion for a significant minority in our community,” AUJS national president Dean Sherr said.

“It’s important that the JCCV, being an overall body that represents the Jewish community, has all of those different groups represented.”

Zionist Council of Victoria president Sam Tatarka said “Keshet ought to be admitted.

“There is no basis to exclude a community group from a communal organisation assuming they meet the JCCV criteria.”

Stand Up chief executive officer Gary Samowitz said the question is “a no-brainer”.

“We will definitely be voting to accept Keshet and I hope other organisations will be doing the same.”

The vote, which requires a two-third majority, will be held on Monday night at the JCCV plenum.