A PANEL of guest speakers, including both Orthodox and Progressive rabbis, will come together on Sunday, May 1 for the first time to openly discuss issues, barriers and opportunities for greater inclusion of Jewish members of the LGBTI community.
Titled “What Place is there for Gays and Lesbians in the Jewish Community?” and moderated by NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff, the forum’s line-up includes The Great Synagogue’s chief minister Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton, Emanuel Synagogue’s Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio and LGBTI activists Brando Srot, Dawn Cohen and Justin Koonin.
Forum organiser Nadene Alhadeff, who co-chairs the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (NCJWA) NSW division’s social justice and status of women committee, described the event as “an exciting opportunity for the community to explore and discuss the personal, political and religious challenges facing the LGBTI members of our community in an open and supportive manner”.
She said it was pleasing that “all the people on the panel came on board so easily”.
“I approached Rabbi Elton about being a panel member after hearing of a recent sermon he delivered (at The Great Synagogue) about inclusiveness, and he immediately agreed to participate – there was no hesitation,” Alhadeff said.
“The second half of the forum will present opportunities for people in the audience to ask questions, which they are invited to send to us (NCJWA NSW).”
Rabbi Elton welcomed the forum and said, “The LGBTI community is very much present and growing, and I think it is very important we start to have an open conversation about how we deal with this new reality.
“It’s important to have members of the LGBTI and non-LGBTI Jewish community involved and present in these conversations, together with rabbis from the Progressive and Conservative streams in a mutual atmosphere of respect,” he said.
“We are not going to agree on everything, but I also believe that people in the audience will see agreements on things they may not have expected.
“NCJWA NSW has my great admiration for presenting this forum and taking the lead.”
Panellist Brando Srot, young adult director of the Shalom Institute and a volunteer at the AIDS Council of NSW, will speak about key health and welfare issues in his capacity as a trained psychotherapist.
Srot praised NCJWA NSW for hosting this event “because it is pioneering”.
“I think it is a big step and I hope it is just the start of putting this issue on the communal map,” he said.
The forum will be held from 6pm to 7:30pm on May 1 at NCJWA NSW Council House. To RSVP, phone (02) 9363 0257 or email email@example.com.