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Rav Metzger on Female Singing: Enter Late or Exit Early

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi weighs in on issue, says where religious soldiers are a majority, women need not sing.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 9/26/2011, 2:22 PM

Chief Rabbi Metzger
Chief Rabbi Metzger
Flash 90

The Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel, Rav Yonah Metzger, has weighed in on the controversy surrounding female singing in IDF ceremonies, and the insistence of some soldiers not to view such entertainment because it violates their religious standards of modesty.

"The right of religious soldiers to avoid hearing female singing must be respected, whether she is singing alone, or in a group of women, or even a man and a woman together," Rav Metzger opined. "It certainly is neither just nor proper to take away their status and rights because of their insistence on carrying out the Torah and Halakha.

"In order to prevent future tensions, my proposal is to ensure that in such events, where many of the soldiers are observant, only men will sing. Alternatively, if this cannot be determined as a rule, at least it should be done when many of the soldiers are religiously strict on the subject of avoiding female singing."

In those places where religious soldiers are a minority, the rabbi goes on, "and the commander decides to invite a female singer or a group in which women perform, to entertain the soldiers – the commander should inform the religious soldiers of this in advance, consult the unit's rabbi and allow them to enter the event late or leave it ahead of time…"

This should be done in a way that does not disturb the event, says the Rabbi. For instance, religious soldiers can sit near the exit in advance, and leave the hall one by one, not in a group.