Bringing Jews back to the Community

January 17, 2016 by Toni Susskind
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The third annual ‘Pride Shabbat” service has been held at Melbourne’s Temple Beth Israel (TBI) in Victoria, as part of the 2016 Midsumma Festival, an annual event held to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) art and culture.

Rabbi Kim Ettlinger and Jonathan Barnett Photo: Joshua Susskind

Rabbi Kim Ettlinger and Jonathan Barnett
Photo: Joshua Susskind

Jonathan Barnett, president of Keshet Australia, an organisation committed to overcoming prejudices, said: “The Pride Shabbat It’s all about bringing back LGBTI Jews into the community.” He believes that there is a growing belief that people cannot live as practicing Jews and members of the LGBTI community at the same time even though they want to celebrate their Jewish heritage.

Cantor Michael Laloum, visiting cantor from America Tammy Cohen and Rabbi Kim Ettingler Photo: Joshua Susskind

Cantor Michael Laloum, visiting cantor  Zoe Jacobs from Finchley, London and Rabbi Kim Ettinger Photo: Joshua Susskind

Barnett, the instigator of the original Pride Shabbat, believes this is why events such as this are so important. He said: “Services that welcome LGBTI people and their families into the religion, show the world that the two lifestyles can coexist peacefully.”

Rabbi Kim Ettlinger of TBI concurred with the concept of acceptance saying “We are all equal.”

To highlight this open-mindedness prayers such as “A Queer Amida,” were read from the San Francisco LGBTI Siddur by different members of the congregation.

Margot Fink a transgender woman and State Finalist Young Australian of the Year spoke about her journey, being incorrectly assigned male at birth, yet identifying as female. She discussed her coming out and unconditional acceptance of her sexuality by her family and the Jewish community. This support allowed her to be a proud transgender Jewish woman and events such as the Pride service is in an “olive branch,” making Judaism available to everyone regardless of their gender.

Over 200 people attended the service, including David Southwick, State Member of Parliament for Caulfield and Victorian State Minister for Equality Martin Foley.


Dates of Jewish Midsumma Events:

January 30th:

Keshet will host a text study on gay issues

February 6th:

Keshet will  host a pride Shabbat picnic.

For more details and events please contact:

Keshet Australia on the numbers listed below:

President: Jonathan Barnett 0467 508 868


4 Responses to “Bringing Jews back to the Community”
  1. Debbie Scholem says:

    Oh Dear Eleonora, didn’t Jesus teach you to love all in God’s world. If you are into labels and you like being in the Messianic Jews ‘tribe’. For Gods sake be more like how Jesus asked us to be. Go Jesus ! Go Temple Beth Israel!

  2. Eleonora Mostert says:

    Wow what happened to God’s word??? It’s an abomination in the eyes of God. Seems that even we Jews are now Tampering with His words. Thank God I’m a Messianic Jew. Oops before you all start yelling at me… I believe all scripture Old and New are God’s word. Let’s leave it in God’s hands who is or isn’t one of His people. You can imagine my surprise when I put a drop of my blood under a microscope… it wasn’t round like normal corpuscles but shaped like the Star of David. Either I’m Jewish or I’m a very very sick old lady. PS No matter what you believe, God gave us all the freedom of choice. If you’re Hebrew you are still and always will be my family.

  3. Rita Schaffer says:

    That cannot be pleasing to God.

  4. Fiona Sweet Formiatti says:

    The people in the second photo are Cantor Michel Laloum and visitor,Cantor Zöe Jacobs, from Finchbury Reform Synagogue (North London). Correction, please.

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