Shlomo Artzi tribute to feature only male performers

Event is a benefit for an ultra-Orthodox-run charity; Guy Pines' 'Erev Tov' TV show contacted several of the artists, who said they had not realized that it would be an all-male performance.

Shlomo Artzi (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Shlomo Artzi
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Guy Pines reported on his television program Erev Tov on Tuesday night that a tribute concert celebrating the work of singing star Shlomo Artzi next month will be held without a single female performer participating, and that this was in response to a request from an ultra-Orthodox rabbi connected to the event.
Pines, who noted that many people had asked him not to report on this story, said that it was no accident that all of the 13 artists performing at the Artzi tribute next month will be male. This decision was made because the event will be a benefit for Ezra LeMarpeh, a non-profit medical charity run by Israel Prize-winning ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Avraham Elimelech Firer, who demanded that women not perform, although the event is not geared for an ultra-Orthodox audience in any other way.
The event, which will celebrate Artzi’s five decades as a leading musician and his upcoming 70th birthday, will be held in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin and with the participation of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at the Tel Aviv Cultural Hall on November 20. It will be hosted by Eretz Nehederet star Eyal Kitzis and journalist Orly Vilnai.
But all the artists scheduled to perform onstage, including such stars as Harel Skaat and Mosh Ben Ari, are male. The event is being promoted by the Zappa Club and sounds in every way like a mainstream secular evening – other than the fact that not a single female voice will be heard singing.
Erev Tov contacted several of the artists, including Mosh Ben Ari and Tzion Baruch, who said they didn't realized that it would be an all-male performance. Pines reported that Elai Botner and the Outside Kids (Yeldei ha Hutz) were told to perform only with the men in his band, not with female singer Adar Gold. Botner said that it was regrettable but that that this was the specific request they received. Gold said she had just learned that she was specifically asked not to appear.
Eli Yatzpan grew annoyed when asked by the Erev Tov team about his participation in the event. “I’m volunteering to perform at this to event to make money for a holy cause – what do I care who performs?”
Vilnai, when contacted by the show, said she also wasn't aware that there would be no female singers performing, and that she would discuss this with the organizers.
The artistic director of the event, Haim Shemesh, confirmed to Erev Tov that there would be no female singers performing in order to honor the wishes of the rabbi. He told The Jerusalem Post in a comment: “The value of life is a supreme value. Rabbi Firer and the association help save thousands of people a year regardless of religion, race or gender, and I am proud to be part of an event that will raise funds to enable the nonprofit to continue its sacred work. Period. Everything else is irrelevant.”
This controversy comes in the wake of several recent concerts and public events that were segregated by sex to accommodate the ultra Orthodox community, and as events sponsored by the military have also featured male-only choirs.
Pines said that many people connected to the event declined to comment. He emphasized that he respected and valued the work of the Ezra LeMarpeh charity, but added that he felt it was right for the issue to become a subject of public discussion, given that the event is being held in Tel Aviv in the presence of the president, and honors one of Israel’s most beloved entertainers.