JCCV makes historic apology to Aleph Melbourne

April 2, 2019 by David Marlow
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At its Plenum meeting on Monday evening, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) overwhelmingly voted to apologise to Aleph Melbourne for the “hateful” debate and failure to support Aleph in its quest for affiliation at the JCCV Plenum in 1999.

Anton Hermann, Doron Abramovici, Jennifer Huppert, Michael Barnett, Shaun Miller and Colin Krycer at the JCCV Plenum vote with a copy of the apology

At the time, the JCCV Executive supported the affiliation of Jewish LGBTI group Aleph but was defeated in the vote by affiliate members 39 to 46, after a fiery debate that included homophobic comments that left lasting harm on many community members in attendance.  Fast forward twenty years and no affiliate voted against the apology.

The apology motion was jointly drafted by JCCV and Aleph and was moved by JCCV Vice President Anton Hermann.  Sivan Barak seconded the motion on behalf of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS), which had been advocating for an apology to Aleph.

Michael Barnett and Shaun Miller, on behalf of Aleph Melbourne, said, “We welcome the apology and thank the JCCV Executive and those members of their council who turned up to vote in favour of the motion.”

“Whilst the JCCV Executive has always been supportive of Aleph Melbourne, the words of the apology and their actions have demonstrated they are committed to supporting the full and unconditional inclusion and acceptance of all same-sex attracted, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people in the Jewish community.”

“It was significant that this apology was issued alongside a discussion on antisemitism and racism.  The JCCV has further demonstrated their integrity by acknowledging that hate from within the Jewish community is as unacceptable as hate directed toward it.”

“Aleph Melbourne acknowledges the involvement of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society in the formulation and passage of this Apology and is grateful for their long-standing and ongoing support.”

Aleph said that this was a historic apology, saying, “Aleph Melbourne believes this is the first apology ever from any Jewish community in relation to the mistreatment of LGBTIQ people.”

Ms Barak said, “As the AJDS delegate I had the honour of presenting the motion on behalf of Aleph Melbourne. The process was handled with kindness and a genuinely inclusive touch.  The outcome was a palpable sense of relief, healing and acknowledgment and on a personal note it was an opportunity for me to represent the voice of my beloved baby brother who can now feel a sense of belonging.”

JCCV President Jennifer Huppert welcomed the decision, and said, “This motion is one step in healing the fractures which have affected our community in the past, and is an expression of the JCCV’s genuine commitment to diversity and including, and ensuring that LGBTIQ+ Jews and their families feel that they are respected and valued members of the Jewish community in Victoria”.

The JCCV apology can be found below.

A photograph of the formal presentation of a framed copy of the apology is available below and online here: http://bit.ly/jccv-aleph-apology-photo; L to R: (JCCV reps) Anton Hermann, Doron Abramovici, Jennifer Huppert; (Aleph Melbourne reps) Michael Barnett, Shaun Miller, Colin Krycer.  (Photo credit: Gregory Storer)

Apology – April 2019

To acknowledge the 20-year anniversary of Aleph Melbourne being denied membership of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria

On the occasion of 20 years since the failed attempt by Aleph Melbourne to join the JCCV, this plenum places on record that:

  • Aleph Melbourne submitted a valid application for membership of the JCCV in January 1999
  • The Executive of the JCCV supported admission of Aleph Melbourne as a member
  • On 10 May 1999 the JCCV Plenum debated the motion and voted (39 votes in favour and 46 votes against) to deny the application for membership
  • In the course of the debate, homophobic views were expressed by some delegates which caused long-term harm to members of our LGBTIQ+ community

Accordingly, this Plenum now apologises unconditionally to all members of our community who were impacted by the rejection of the membership application and for the unacceptable homophobic views expressed during the debate.

We apologise for the deep offence and humiliation caused by the hateful words spoken in the course of the debate.

We apologise for the subsequent distress, further marginalisation and stigmatisation caused by the rejection of Aleph Melbourne’s membership application.

We now recommit ourselves to welcoming and embracing LGBTIQ+ Jews in all our work, as part of our broader commitment to social inclusion for all members of the Jewish community of Victoria.

Through our genuine commitment to equality and diversity we seek to ensure that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.


3 Responses to “JCCV makes historic apology to Aleph Melbourne”
  1. Naomi BARNETT says:

    Our wonderful son is NOT swill. Since when has the JCCV represented the Torah?

  2. Boris Carshino says:

    Another stab in the back to the Torah by irrelevant unrepresentative swill

  3. Michael Barnett says:

    A positive outcome for the Jewish community and for LGBTIQ people.

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