The leader of a Jewish group in South Africa on Wednesday rejected claims women came close to being excluded from singing at a Jewish event on religious grounds.

Avrom Krengel, the head of the South African Zionist  Federation, which organized the Israeli Independence Day ceremony in Johannesburg last week, said his organization came under no pressure from haredi (ultra- Orthodox) Jews to bar women from singing on stage.

“We received no opposition to woman singing at Yom Ha’atzmaut whatsoever,” Krengel wrote in response to an inquiry.

Last Monday, The Jerusalem Post ran a story in which a Jewish group in South Africa said women were almost excluded from the ceremony because haredi Jews object to women singing in public. Rabbi Robert Jacobs of the South African Center for Religious Equality and Diversity (SACRED), a group affiliated with progressive Judaism, said women sang at the event in a mixed-gender choir as part of a last-minute compromise. The SAZF did not respond on time for its comment to be included in the article.

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