This time last year, Jewish psychotherapist and Bar Mitzvah teacher Kim Gotlieb was preparing to strut down Oxford Street in a pair of towering heels.

“I’m the president of Dayenu, which is the Jewish LGBT group in Sydney, and we’ve had [a Mardi Gras float] every year since 2000,” he says.

“It caused a bit of a fuss with the Jewish community in 2000, but increasingly it’s very much a celebration — it gives people an opportunity to come out, or to bring that conversation into their family.”

The term ‘dayenu’ comes from the Jewish Passover service, and roughly translates to ‘it was enough’.

“We have reinvented it as in, ‘it’s enough’ that we move beyond prejudice, and enough of people feeling like they can marginalise us, and enough of us feeling negative about our identities — let’s celebrate,” smiles Mr Gotlieb.

This year, Dayenu’s float will focus on Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand and Fran Drescher from The Nanny — three icons for the Jewish gay community — and Mr Gotlieb is most definitely dressing in drag.

“They say that gay people liked seeing Bette Davis because she was so good at sending back a serve to those who were perhaps putting her down,” he says.

Coming out across the Tasman

Mr Gotlieb wasn’t always so open — or flippant — about his sexuality.

Growing up in New Zealand, his paternal grandfather was on the board of Wellington’s Jewish congregation, and his maternal grandfather was the rabbi.

“We had that basic religious lineage and heritage, but it was a fairly cultural — it’s all about the food, and going to Shul for weddings, Bar Mitzvah and festivals,” he recalls.

While Mr Gotlieb’s upbringing was more culturally Jewish than devout, he was unsure of how family members would react to his being gay.

And so, he moved to Australia in his early 20s before officially “coming out”.

“There was such a gay world here, and the world in Wellington was very small … I imagine the anonymity was also helpful,” he says.


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