A Melbourne gay Jewish support group has spoken out against advice that GLBT membership of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) would “fracture the Jewish community”.
The JCCV announced it had sought the counsel of Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Rapoport who claimed that while support should be given to improve the wellbeing of GLBT Jews, the GLBT community “must accept that they cannot become official members of the JCCV”.
Aleph convenor Michael Barnett told the Star Observer by accepting the advice, the JCCV is ignoring a broader interpretation of homosexuality in Jewish law.
“It continues to convey the message that the JCCV is focused on handling or using the … Orthodox approach to homosexuality, rather than a balanced approach that is accessible to all sectors of the Jewish community,” Barnett said.
In a statement JCCV president John Searle said he “cannot change where Jewish law stands” on homosexuality but the JCCV can “figure out” ways to include GLBT people.
“The JCCV will follow the approach of Rabbi Rapoport and not be involved in gay rights such as the public fight for recognition and solidarity in the GLBT community,” Searle said.
“The JCCV will only be involved in saving lives and seeking more acceptable solutions to issues such as mental wellbeing, family breakdown and religious expulsion.”
Barnett said by making it clear the JCCV will not include GLBT organisations as members it sends a message that GLBTs are not welcome.
“When they say they want to work out ways to include GLBT people and then go and print a line that says GLBT people can’t be members of their organisation, it makes you think they’re actually trying to exclude GLBT people rather than include them,” Barnett said.
At its biennial meeting in San Francisco the World Union of Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) passed a motion calling on all institutions associated with the WUPJ to treat gay and lesbian couples in the same way as married heterosexual couples and families.
Barnett said that interpretation is not being taken into account by the JCCV leadership.
“I find it quite distasteful that the JCCV would continue to portray the opinion of simply the Orthodox, without speaking on behalf of the rest of their membership, and taking this one-sided attitude towards any issues that may face them.”
Last year the JCCV revised its policy platform to include sexual orientation on its respect agenda and set up a GLBT Reference Group.
Aleph applied for JCCV membership in 1999 and was rejected.