Some inside goss into why the JCCV set up the GLBT reference group

To help you get some clarity into why the JCCV suddenly and mysteriously decided to start talking to the GLBT Jews, it might help to understand some background.

This email arrived out of the blue:

From: Geoffrey Zygier <geoffrey.zygier @>
Date: 9 November 2009 13:06
Subject: proposed meeting
To: Michael Barnett <>


John Searle would like to meet with you and the members of Aleph as soon as feasible.  When could this be arranged please?


Geoffrey Zygier I  Executive Director  I  Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV)
306 Hawthorn Road Caulfield South 3162 Australia
03 9272 5579  I  0413 731 545

Coincidentally this email arrived shortly after I’d been corresponding with people in the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) about the JCCV’s lack of response to the intolerance of homosexuality in the Victorian Jewish community, especially in light of the Tel Aviv gay massacre and the vile AJN Watch‘s assault on homosexual people.  I had heard first hand from a VMC Commissioner that the VMC had cautioned the JCCV they would stop future funding to the JCCV if they were not seen to be inclusive of GLBT Jews.

The VMC threaten to pull future JCCV funding one day and the next day the JCCV sets up a GLBT Reference Group.  How cosy.

The JCCV’s motto is “The Voice of Victorian Jewry”.  At the head of this “voice” is a very loud mouth.  Don’t believe for a moment you are getting the full story when you read what the loud mouth has to say.  He needs to keep good with the orthodox bloc that represents the power base of his organisation.  If he says one teensy weensy widdle bad word about their (and his) intolerant fundamental dogmatic beliefs, he loses any remaining shred of credibility he may have and would be as welcome as roast pork at a barmitzvah.

So there you have it.  The JCCV are using homosexuals to secure future government funding.  They have done this by setting up a reference group as a token gesture to look into why we are so suicidal and miserable, but aren’t prepared to shake the tree and take on the real issue of orthodox Jewish hate and intolerance.

You will know the JCCV and it’s president are being genuine when they admit publicly there is a problem with the orthodox Jewish attitude to homosexuality.  Until such time, they will remain the laughing stock of the Jewish community and a deep embarrassment to humanity.

JCCV – Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s premier act

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has proven itself to be the premier act in the 2010 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  JCCV President John Searle, the funny-man heading up the three-ring circus of hilarity, has some very funny things to say that will have you in hysterics.

In what might seem to be a well-intentioned initiative, funny-man Searle has established a reference group to see just how badly the lives of Jewish gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are in the Victorian Jewish community.  How caring.  How sweet.  How nice.  How disingenuous.

The JCCV has a track-record of being the most vocal anti-gay organisation in the Victorian Jewish community.  At the May 10 1999 plenum meeting it rejected a membership application from Aleph Melbourne, a social and support group for (at the time just) gay and bisexual men.  Not only did it reject the application, but the hate and intolerance expressed at this infamous meeting by “respected” members of the Jewish community such as the late Rabbi Emeritus Ronald Lubosfsky and Rabbi Chaim Gutnik (the then President of the Rabbinic Council of Victoria) toward the Aleph Melbourne and gay people generally paralleled the animosity aimed at Jews in a Nuremberg Rally in WWII.  Read the minutes of this meeting.  They are captivating and deeply embarrasing to the JCCV.  A sorry would be a start.

John Searle states (AJN 16/04/10, p5):

Research suggests that issues of depression, mental health disease and suicide are higher among people in the GLBT community.

Oh really Johnny boy?  And why might this be the case?  Are homosexuals defective?  Are we unique?  Perhaps we just don’t cope so well?  No.  Sit up and listen, Searle.  Orthodox Judaism is the problem, Searle.  People who promote intolerance of homosexuality are the problem, Searle.  People who reject the notion that homosexuality is acceptable are the problem, Searle.  People who hide this intolerance are the problem, Searle.  You are the problem, Searle.

The JCCV may be well-intentioned (or at least want to seem to be so) in setting up a reference group to research the problems affecting GLBT Jews, but while there are people like John Searle buffooning and big-noting themselves around the place and not addressing the real problem of religious intolerance of homosexuality, they may as well just sit back and do nothing.  No, nothing probably would be better than what they are currently doing, because by deflecting the issue and not pointing the blame at Orthodox Judaism, they are actually exacerbating the problem.

John Searle owes it to every person in the Victorian Jewish community to stand up and say that any intolerance of homosexuality is unacceptable, that GLBT Jews are normal, worthy members of the Jewish (and wider) community and that same-sex relationships are healthy, valid and will benefit the community.

If the clown at the head of the three-ring circus calling itself the JCCV cannot do this, he must stand down from his sad performance and let a person with genuine concern for the lives of the most vulnerable, marginalised and disenfranchised people in the community do the job he claims to be doing.


The following story appears in the Australian Jewish News, April 16 2010 edition, p5.

JCCV group focuses on mental health

Peter Kohn

Jewish Care and the Australian Jewish Psychologists Group have become partners with the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) in promoting the wellbeing of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) members of the community.

In addition, Jewish GLBT advocates in Sydney are now calling for a similar subcommittee to be established across the border.

The JCCV GLBT reference group, which was formed late last year in response to community concerns about discrimination, met last week to forge strategies and plan partnerships with medical and social service providers.

JCCV President John Searle said Dr Nicky Jacobs, president of the psychologists’ group, will have direct input to the reference group.

“Research suggests that issues of depression, mental health disease and suicide are higher among people in the GLBT community,” he said.

“We need to come to grips with these matters, and ascertain the extent to which these are experienced within the Jewish GLBT community.  The critical work of the reference group will them address there issues as they exist in our community.”

The JCCV president also highlighted the importance of getting Jewish schools involved.

“Young people at school who are facing issues concerning their sexual orientation may be faced with issues of bullying or discrimination.  We need to better understand that and educate our community so that doesn’t occur.”

Sally Goldner, a member of the JCCV reference group and a spokesperson for TransGender Victoria, told The AJN the initiative “can reach across to people who, on the surface, might not understand these issues”.

“We’re able to put both the GLBT perspective and the Jewish perspective together and work out the best solution,” she said.

Roy Freeman of Sydney-based Jewish GLBT group Dayenu hailed the reference group’s work and said he hoped a similar group could be established within the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD).

“It’s good to see that finally the JCCV is acknowledging that there are issues,” he said.  “There’s been a lot of animosity between the JCCV and the [GLBT] community.

“It would be good to see [the JCCV] working with some other GLBT organisations as well, such as LGBT Health, which is an Australia-wide organisation,” he said.

Dayenu is currently in the process of applying for JBD membership and Freeman is urging the NSW roof body to formulate a policy on Sydney’s Jewish GLBT community.

He quoted statistics on suicide prevention that show that GLBT Australians are 12-14 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.

“Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any similar research within the Jewish community specifically, but there’s no reason to believe those statistics would be any better.   I believe those mental health issues are connected to the attitude toward homosexuality from certain parts of the Jewish community,” Freeman said.

JCCV’s John Searle – a man with questionable leadership ability


Dear John,

Why are you not prepared to accept that the orthodox Jewish intolerance of homosexuality is the prime contributing factor to the ongoing misery, mental health issues and suicide of same-sex attracted youth in the Jewish community?

You have set up a GLBT reference group to investigate issues that affect Jewish GLBT people yet you are not prepared to accept that the problem originates from religious intolerance and bigotry.

I suggest you are doing this for kudos, media coverage and to keep the issue under your control because if you were genuinely concerned, you would not ignore me and you would engage people with expertise from outside the Jewish community. Yet you continue to ignore me because I have asked questions that you are scared to answer. You will not admit publicly that there are diverging Jewish views on homosexuality and that there are significant sections of the Jewish community (eg Progressive) that actually acknowledge homosexuality as normal and acceptable. You state that the orthodox Jewish view on homosexuality is the only legitimate perspective. That is offensive, supremacist, and shameful.

Your arrogance is supreme and I am ashamed that you are the head of the organisation that claims to represent the Victorian Jewish community.

Personally I am disgusted by the JCCV’s wanton and reckless approach to the lives of the most vulnerable people in the Jewish community. Let’s just hope your children don’t end up dead as victims of this pathetic situation. Do you really care about their welfare?

Prove that you are a leader for a change.