The songs of 20-year-old Eliyahu Faizkov, a yeshiva student from Netanya, were recently banned by haredi pirate radio stations because his voice is uncannily feminine.
"At first my songs were received positively by the haredi radio stations," Faizkov told the Ynet Web site. "But I suddenly noticed that they stopped playing my songs. It was as if someone confiscated them all. I contacted the stations to find out what was going on and the answer I got was precisely what I had feared, 'Your voice is too feminine.'"
Apparently, listeners had called in to complain about Faizkov's voice.
According to many Orthodox rabbinic authorities, Jewish law forbids men to listen to a female singer's voice, even if it is taped and even if the listener does not know what the woman looks like. In Jewish law, listening to a singing woman's voice is compared to viewing parts of a woman's body that are normally kept covered.
Apparently, the audience of pirate haredi radio stations such as Radio 10, Kol Haneshema and Radio Beit Yisrael does not want anyone to receive the false impression that they are transgressing Jewish law.
Faizkov's mother told The Jerusalem Post that she was very proud of her son and did not even know about his professional singing career.
"He loves to sing and he does it well. But I had no idea radio stations were playing his songs," she said.
Menachem Toker, a popular haredi disc jockey and radio broadcaster, said that in theory, Faizkov could fill a vacuum on the haredi music scene.
"Usually in Hassidic music, little kids are used to simulate a woman's voice," said Toker. "A guy like Faizkov could perform that function."
Toker, who said he would play Faizkov's music on his own hassidic music show, which is broadcast on Radio Jerusalem, a legal station, predicted that the ban on Faizkov's music would probably destroy his budding career.
"Maybe if the haredi public is exposed to a picture of him with his kippa and his wholesome looks, they might change their mind," Toker said. "But since the haredi papers don't publish pictures of singers, that is unlikely."
Faizkov was at his yeshiva and could not be reached by the Post for comment.