20 years of Mardi Gras for Dayenu

March 2, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Celebrating 20 years since the first Dayenu float and the 80 participating made a huge impact on the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Dayenu: Jewish Sydney LGBTIQ+ Mardi Gras float 2020   Photo:  Toby Evans

It was strongly significant within the Jewish community 20 years ago when Australian Jewish News featured the parade on the front page subsequently called before the Beth Din, where they successfully argued for the relevance of addressing Jewish LGBT issues in the context of the AJN. What followed was a strong reaction from more conservative quarters. However, what is most remembered was the resounding letters of support which came in support of our presence.

The theme of Mardi Gras this year is “What matters” and so twenty years later, Dayenu is well aware that there is still work to be done – particularly in addressing conservative Orthodox voices within the spectrum of Jewish observance, and the harm that is caused to individuals who can move towards social isolation, depression & anxiety, or suicide as a response to this.

Dayenu’s theme this year was “Jewish, Queer & Fabulous” with T-shirts emblazoned with this message in rainbow colours, together with the mandatory Magen David. The reverse side featured the dayenu facebook hashtag, reflecting the changing face of community engagement.

Jarod Rhine-Davis ( guest speaker from Melb. at the Mardi Gras Shabbat dinner, Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio from Emanuel Synagogue, and President of Dayenu, Jonathan David.   Photo:  Toby Evans

Emanuel synagogue’s Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio joined the parade for the second time. On Friday night Emanuel also hosted its annual Mardi Gras Shabbat service, in which Rabbi Ninio spoke about  “creating communities where it is safe for LGBTQI+ Jews to be who they are and to express their own selves (as well as)… celebrating the achievements of the last 20 years of Dayenu: a strong Jewish voice and presence, advocating, counselling, providing opportunities for connection.”

This year Dayenu had the most diverse range of participants including Moishe House, Netzer, Habonim Dror, AUJS (Australian Union of Jewish Students), and Mandelbaum House as well as more familiar faces of Dayenu members, their supporters, families and allies.

The float featured the legendary “Fifi” our resident Jewish Drag Personality, who wowed the crowd in her electrifying pink dress and that familiar “winning smile”.

Jayd Tucker Led some fancy dance steps for the parade route.

Representatives from a diverse range of Jewish organisations as well as Dayenu members celebrated this year’s theme, “Queer Jewish & Fabulous”.   Photo:  Toby Evans

Ex-President of Dayenu, Kim Gotlieb said: “We were extremely well-received by the crowds. Many shouting out “Shalom” or “Hava Nagila” along the way. Some even wanted to buy the T-shirt! Being part of Dayenu over the years, it has been very gratifying to experience the ever-increasing the support that is so evident from organisations like Emanuel Synagogue, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Shalom College, the youth and broader communities. This helps us forge forward with renewed energy and initiatives to catapult us into the next twenty years. Watch this space.”

The current president of Dayenu Jonathan David told J-Wire: “I really loved how our marchers represented many parts of the Jewish and LGBTQIA+ communities. We had a mix of Jewish gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans and gender diverse individuals join us on the float, as well as our straight friends, family and allies. Some were younger and some were older, yet we all came together and danced fabulously down Oxford Street.

I was really happy that so many people and organizations from the Jewish community showed their support by marching with us in the parade. Rabbi Ninio from Emanuel Synagogue proudly marched in the parade with us for the second time, and our Dayenu float also had contingents from Moishe House, Netzer, Habo, AUJS, and Mandelbaum House. When we marched down Oxford street, we also saw so many people from the Jewish community who came down to cheer us on, and we also were cheered on by our non-Jewish allies too.”

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