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June 11, 1993 - Image 58

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-06-11

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Jewish Gay Congress
Hits Israel Policy


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London (JTA) — The World
Congress of Jewish Gay and
Lesbian Organizations has
launched a worldwide cam-
paign against the Israeli ban
on immigration by people
with HIV, the virus that
causes AIDS.
The congress' board of di-
rectors voted unanimously
to oppose the ban at the 13th
international conference of
gay and lesbian Jews held
here last month.
The group aims to per-
suade the Israeli govern-
ment to abandon the policy
by lobbying ministers,
Knesset members and
Zionist groups around the
The congress has the sup-
port of the British Medical
Association. Hilary Curtis,
executive director of the
association's Foundation for
AIDS, said: "There is no
public health rationale for
the exclusion of people who
are HIV positive from entry
or immigration to any coun-
The launch of this cam-
paign was among the vast
number of events at the four-
day conference, which was
attended by about 450 peo-
ple from countries around
the world, including Israel,
Germany, Russia, Eastern
Europe, South Africa, the
United States, Australia and
Reform Rabbi Elizabeth
Sarah, one of four British
rabbis to attend, gave the
Shabbat sermon. She argued
for a fresh approach to "one
of the most problematic
verses in the Torah — a
reappraisal which both re-
jects the prohibition concer-
ning sexual acts between
men and also embraces a
commitment to ensure that
our intimate relationships
are not marred by abuse and
Gay and Lesbian Helpline
trustee and conference
spokesperson Jack Gilbert
ran a workshop on working
with the straight community
where delegates from
Canada, the United States,
the Netherlands and Israel
compared experiences.
Erwin Brugman, an offi-
cial with the congress, re-
ported that French Jewish
homosexuals still face
hostility from French Jewry.
However, the global situa-
tion was rosier, with "a
tremendous increase in
understanding," between

Jewish gay and heterosexual
Liora Moriel — chairper-
son of the Society for the
Protection of Personal
Rights — said that the gay
and lesbian community in
Israel had achieved a high
level of social acceptance.
But she added, "In re-
ligious matters we do ab-
solutely nothing. Our policy
is disengagement because
there is no common ground."
Since the Knesset had
hosted its first official con-
ference on homosexuality
earlier this year, the gay
community in Israel had
received international
media coverage.
One foreign newspaper
had made contact with her
through the Israeli govern-
ment press office, Ms. Moriel
said. "They were so happy it
wasn't something on the Pa-
lestinian uprising they were
more than happy to help
Marc Blumenthal, rabbi at
the Los Angeles Beth
Chayim Chadashim syn-
agogue — the world's first
and oldest homosexual Jew-
ish congregation — led a
discussion on the Jewish
ethical politics of AIDS and

Former volunteer
counselor Michael Zimmer-
man hosted a workshop on
the effects of "coming out"
as gay.
"Some sort of gulf is cre-
ated between us and the
people we've grown up
with," he said. "Many peo-
ple felt that coming out
meant a loss of Jewish iden-
Mr. Zimmerman refuted
this assumption and en-
couraged people to reclaim
what they had discarded.
Afterwards, Mr. Gilbert
said: "As Jews we are often
very quick to disunite. One
of the important points
about the conference was
unity and tolerance. It's an
important lesson for the
Jewish community.
"It also taught the Jewish
lesbian and gay community
what can be achieved
through combined effort."

Israel has 15 Hebrew daily
newspapers, five in Arabic,
one in English (The
Jerusalem Post), and eight in
other languages. Over 650
weekly, monthly and
quarterly periodicals are
also published each year.

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