Haredi protestors at the Bar Ilan junction in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: NEWS 24)
A row has broken out after Bar-Ilan University earlier this week banned women from singing during its Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony on Wednesday night.
Female students were told they would be allowed to read passages of text for the ceremony and play musical instruments.
Rabbi Shlomo Shefer, Bar- Ilan’s campus rabbi who is responsible for the ceremony, told Channel 10, which first reported the story, the decision was made because women singing in ceremonies on campus was not the customary practice at the university. Jewish law, in general, prohibits men from listening to women sing in person, although some rabbinic authorities are more lenient on this issue.
The university faced criticism from several quarters, including the national-religious organization Ne’emanei Torah V’Avodah (NTA), which said that singing at national ceremonies is an Israeli custom and stringencies in Jewish law should not be imposed on the general, non-religious public.
“Even if within Jewish law there are different opinions regarding women singing at public events, there are enough opinions [in Jewish law] that do not prohibit this at public ceremonies, for religious ceremonies and other events,” the organization said.
“NTA holds that women can and should appear on stage at public events. Those who have a stricter approach are free not to attend these events, but they cannot impose their strictures on the general public.”
Separately, NTA also criticized the Israel Association of Students for inviting singer Eyal Golan to perform at its annual Student Day celebrations.
Golan was accused, in 2014, of having sexual relations with underage girls, although the police investigation against him was closed due to lack of evidence. During the investigation, the singer had told the police that there was a difference between sleeping with a girl of 17 compared to a girl of 16, saying the latter was a criminal act and the former was not.
“It is difficult to accept the indifference in which performers who are caught up in moral controversy are invited to such events,” said NTA.