Same gender group in the Jewish Community Council of Victoria

I am implacably against anyone hurling vitriol or discriminating against someone because of sexual proclivity/preference, but my take on such a council as the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) is that groups with sub-philosophies within Judaism are members representing a given approach within a broader philosophic cum cultural definition of Judaism. For example, Bund, Orthodox, Sephardim, Conservative, Reform, Secular Zionist etc

I don’t know how sexual preference defines a sub culture or philosophy of Jews or Judaism per se given it crosses all groups anyway.

They should be afforded full support by the JCCV and indeed the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria (COSV) in the face of issues which they face, and pastoral/other assistance but their membership extends across the existing sub groups, I would have thought. Services to assist I fully understand and support, but I don’t understand a grouping that defines itself by its sexual preference.

For this reason I don’t understand why they need or want a formal membership separate from existing groups.

As far as Orthodox Shules are concerned, I’ve personally not encountered anyone being called out or excluded or insulted because of a sexual preference. Of course, I stand to be corrected if that has occurred especially in the last ten years.

It comes therefore as a surprise to me that apparently  Caulfield, Brighton, Blake Street, North Eastern, East Melbourne and Kew Shules will all be voting in favor. I imagine the others will either not be present or abstain or go on ‘walk about’. The COSV is pretty much a toothless tiger, and on a matter such as this, they should consult the Rabbinic Council of Victoria as well.

For an Orthodox group(s) I would express disdain for acts which highlight someone’s sexuality and/or take action verbally or otherwise against such people. I think that’s a given in our society. Is it not?

That being said same gender KIDDUSHIN cannot and will not ever be supported by Orthodoxy. That also needs to be made clear, and certainly by Sam Tatarka, Danny Lamm and other orthodox members of the JCCV. There can be no hiding or diplomatic sweeping under the carpet of this axiom  by simply not mentioning it.

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

16 thoughts on “Same gender group in the Jewish Community Council of Victoria”

  1. whilst I recognise that 2 people of same sex could have loving relationship and I agree with you that such people deserve our respect, I cannot see how any group who identifies with something not according to Judaism can be afforded membership I the JCCV or any other organisation supposed to represent Jewish community.
    By same token majority of Jews do not observe Shabbat or eat Kosher-so if a group representing Shabbat breakers was to apply to JCCV they should not be accepted even though we should respect them etc.

    The sad fact that LGBT people feel discriminated against should not in of itself be a reason to get accepted as part of JCCV, despite their plight.

    Of course there are those who would say that same sex relationships are ok and accepted within Judaism – obviously non Orthodox “Rabbis” etc
    so like so many times before, we need to define what we mean by “Jewish” values

    The answer can only be what is contained in Shulchan Aruch / Mishneh Torah etc Anything else is simply not Judaism but thinking and writings and “modern” values expressed by Jews, some well meaning some simply feeling the need to emulate the non Jewish world.

    I share you bewilderment re those “Orthodox” shules who indicated they would vote in favour of the motion – you omitted St Kilda shule under Rabbi Glasman

    I do not understand the change in values of these groups.

    Perhaps it would be instructive to recall the words of Rabbis Lubofsky and Chaim Gutnick who addressed this same issue when the Alef Society made similar application some years back. I fail to see what has changed other than growing support in secular non Jewish world for same sex marriage.

    We are supposed to be light unto the nations – not a mirror

    Let us lend real support to anyone wishing to avail themselves of such regardless of their level of observance of Jewish law, but at the same time not lend recognition to any grouping of Jews subscribing to values that are antithetical to genuine Judaism.


    1. Rabbi Glassman’s comments were typically partially quoted by the orthodox hating sensationalist Jewish news.
      I’m surprised that you seem to not realise that the JCCV doesn’t have Orthodox (real) Judaism as the Mantra defining its membership.

      There are a number of orthodox populist politicians on the JCCV. Or affiliated groups who surprise me with their reform stance on this issue. They are intelligent enough to argue cogently and strongly against this obvious folly.


  2. How do you address the high rate of suicide amongst same-sex attracted and gender diverse youth if you keep pushing them to the margins?

    Keshet Australia, as with Aleph Melbourne, has in its ideals to provide education to the community and to offer safe spaces to family, friends and those in need who feel isolated from the mainstream.

    On this basis they are seeking membership of the JCCV. In fact the JCCV is actively promoting inclusion and visibility of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people already, so I’m unsure on what basis you feel offering membership to Keshet would be doing anything different to what they are already engaged in.


    1. There has been no suggestion in my article suggesting or minimising the issues that same gender preference or union may or do precipitate. You asked about how these are addressed? I would answer in the same way that the Adam Goodes issue is being addressed. There are indigenous people in the crowd AND in each separate team. We don’t have a team of indigenous only. That being said, eyes should not be closed and the JCCV if it doesn’t have one, should have a person whose responsibility it is to stop hate amongst all the sub cultures within Judaism. I repeat, sexual preference is not a sub culture.


        1. Absolutely, but it’s not that I advocate they shouldn’t have support. I think the JCCV should augment the non Jewish communities efforts in this regard across the issues you raise. To me, they cut across across all the Jewish sub-cultures/religious nuances and as such they should be a matter of concern for the JCCV which should provide resources to assist State resources and provide any specialist assistance. I believe they are doing this for child sexual abuse. I would similarly be against a group joining under the umbrella of “Victims of Pedophilia” etc. BUT, I would expect the JCCV to assist in support services as per need and immediacy.


          1. Isaac, if the JCCV disaffiliated those organisations that provide crucial support services to the community they’d be cutting out a whole swathe of organisations such as:

            Access Inc
            Australian Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry
            Australian Jewish Psychologists Inc
            Emmy Monash Aged Care Inc
            Jewish Care Victoria
            Jewish Taskforce Against Family Violence
            Kosher Meals on Wheels Association of Victoria
            Magen David Adom
            March of the Living Australia
            National Council of Jewish Women of Australia – Victoria
            Stand Up (formerly Jewish Aid Australia)
            Victorian Assoc of Jewish Ex & Servicemen & Women Australia Inc
            Wings of Care (Kanfei Chesed) Inc

            Are you advocating care for marginalised and vulnerable LGBTIQ people is not as worthy as any of these services?

            Are you suggesting that these services are not worthy of representation on the JCCV?


            1. I obviously have a view of a roof body which is different to the current mess, and to be frank, whilst causes like Magen David Adom are critical I don’t see them having a vote on communal issues


    2. Michael – I fully support all forms of assistance by organisations such as Jewish Care, Anti Defamation AUJS to assist any Jew regardless of sexual preference – that is to my mind a Jewish imperative – I would even support giving donation to Keshet for the express purpose of providing mental health support which you make mention of
      The issue here re membership of JCCV is possibly best identified by clause 8A(a) of JCCV constitution:
      “8A – An organisation seeking to become a Constituent of the Council, other than a Roof
      Body Constituent, shall be required to satisfy the following criteria:
      (a) The organisation is organised for the advancement of some specifically Jewish
      ideal or ideals;…”

      The basis of identification of a group of Jews being their sexual orientation goes against everything Jewish – as you well know, Judaism strongly condemns same sex relationships – so how can Keshet purport to advance a specifically Jewish ideal on the basis of your collective identity and raison d’etre?

      If you say you are a group who have special needs, then we have to examine whether there are existing Jewish organisations who provide for these needs or who could make provision for such needs within their operation – eg Jewish Care

      If Keshet is about educating the community regarding same sex relationships, then I propose that is done where necessary in the context of social services by Jewish Care to lend support to GLBT people and their families.

      But to promote the values of GLBT cannot be in the interests of the Jewish community, and can not possibly advance any specifically Jewish ideal.


  3. The JCCV is primarily there to represent Jews to the broader Jewish community. If for some reason a representative of the Jewish community is needed, the JCCV can supply one. If a statement is to be made on behalf of the Victorian Jewish community, it can be signed by the JCCV. This is its value, and it only exists as long as the JCCV can convincingly argue that it represents the whole Jewishcommunity.

    It doesn’t really matter whether you or I think that a gay community organisation is superfluous. I think it’s fair to say that a gay Jewish organisation isn’t like a Jewish woodworking association or whatever, and in any event: that is certainly the position that the non-Jewish community would take. If the JCCV excludes gay organisations then the JCCV itself will be diminished and it will potentially lose its valuable access to the government and to other communal representatives.


  4. Isaac, its a bit of wishful thinking to expect the JCCV to consult the Rabbinical Council on this matter or on anything. Most of their leadership these days are so secular oriented that it would not even occur to them. For the record, many of the orthodox Shuler as well as the COSV looked to the Rabbinical council for some guidance and chizuk in all this but it was a case of “oznayim velo yishmauh”.


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