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Jewish stars shine brightly at Covid-friendly Mardi Gras

Michael Visontay
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Published: 11 March 2021

Last updated: 4 March 2024

Despite being limited to 40 participants at the Sydney Cricket Ground parade, Dayenu’s contingent rose to the challenge. See PHOTO GALLERY

WHILE SOME WERE HESITANT about the need to move this year’s Mardi Gras Parade to the SCG, their fears were soon dissipated as Sydney’s queer community put on a memorable show.

“What an awesome spectacle it was to take over the Sydney Cricket Ground and perform our dance routine to the crowd - our once-a-year day to celebrate and thrive,” said Kim Gotlieb, Vice President of Dayenu, Sydney’s Jewish LGBTIQ+ group.

“Jewish Stars Shining Bright” was the theme of this year’s Dayenu float, featuring a two-metre Magen Daved as the centrepiece. The 40 participants included Rabbi George Mordechai from Emanuel Synagogue and his wife, Michal, who were “overjoyed” with their first experience of Mardi Gras.

“It was an honour to represent the Emanuel clergy team at the parade.” said Rabbi Mordechai. There were also people from Netzer, Moishe House and a range of LGBTIQ+ Jews, as well as friends and supporters.

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Benjamin Newman led a choreographed routine working with Rainbow stars and flags, which provided a glorious high energy ruach, especially when Dayenu took their “feature spot” in the centre of the stadium, to the tune of Hava Nagila.

Jonathan David, President of Dayenu, said “It was great to return to a fabulous Mardi Gras shabbat dinner and Parade after a year of online events.

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“We are so grateful that Emanuel synagogue was able to host us once again. Progressive Judaism remains one of the few faith communities to publicly support and embrace LGBT+. It’s so important to uphold this example for other faith communities, who might support LGBT+ people in a private manner, but not yet publicly.”

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Last Friday night saw the regular Mardi Gras Shabbat service at Emanuel, where Rabbi Jacki Ninio spoke to the complex rainbow strands of the LGBTIQ+ acronym as well as the theme of this year’s Mardi Gras, Rise.

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“We rise when we have difficult or uncomfortable conversations, when we are open to hearing perspectives which are different from our own and we find the courage and humility to listen and understand,” Rabbi Ninio explained.

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Kim Gotlieb: “There is such a strong energy of strength and vitality at this time of the year, and we hope that it will sustain our community until we start planning next year’s Mardi Gras - hopefully back to our usual Oxford St parade, free of Covid restrictions.”

Photos: All photos of Dayenu's contingent by Toby Evans

About the author

Michael Visontay

Michael Visontay is the Commissioning Editor of TJI. He has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 30 years. Michael is the author of several books, including Who Gave You Permission?, co-authored with child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks, and Welcome to Wanderland: Western Sydney Wanderers and the Pride of the West.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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