Women singers not kosher at memorial

21 April 2016 - 02:42 By Karen Gwee

It will be progressives versus the orthodox in the Cape Town Equality Court in a row over Jewish women singing at an annual Holocaust memorial service.Two Jews and a progressive Jewish organisation are taking the Cape Council of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies to court in an attempt to overturn the decade-old ban."In a secular ceremony commemorating the victims of the Holocaust - the victims of discrimination - it's repugnant to pander to people who believe that women are an unequal or lesser species," plaintiff Gilad Stern told The Times yesterday.The Board of Deputies is said to have begun excluding female singers from the Holocaust ceremony and other communal events in 2005 when an Orthodox chief rabbi walked off a stage in protest at a schoolgirl performing a memorial song."They favour rabbis who find women's voices obscene," said Stern, referring to Orthodox Jews who follow the Talmudic dictum kol isha, which means "a woman's voice is lewdness".Stern, his sister-in-law Sarah Goldstein, and the SA Centre for Religious Equality and Diversity applied to the Equality Court on April 1 for an order that would prohibit the Board of Deputies from barring women singers."It's about basic human rights . the basic value of women - they are equal," said Stern's sister-in-law and fellow plaintiff, Sarah Goldstein, whose mother Daisy, 90, fled Europe before the Holocaust. They hope the case will be heard ahead of the Holocaust ceremony at Pinelands Cemetery on May 5.The Board of Deputies will defend the action, it said yesterday."We are faced with difficulty in upholding gender equity and also providing a forum where the needs of the Orthodox are met," Cape board executive director Daniel Levitt said.The Board of Deputies said it planned to hold a colloquium to "air diverse points of view that will guide the board in terms of future ceremonies".

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