Ivri Lider: I'll be happy to perform in Elkana

Gay singer replies to those opposing his performance in Elkana.

Miriam Alster ,

Ivri Lider
Ivri Lider
Miriam Alster/FLASH90

Openly gay singer Ivri Lider responded Monday to the storm in Elkana, a predominantly religious town in Samaria, after a couple there termed him a “known deviant” and expressed their opposition to his show being held in their town next month.

“I, too, read on Walla! that I am a 'known deviant.' I want to say that this offends me, and this is not okay. It is still dumbfounding and strange to hear from people who think and speak that way, who are burned up by everyone who isn’t the same as they.”

Lider emphasized that he will perform as planned.

“I am sure that most of the residents of Elkana are tolerant and love music, and are waiting for the performance no less than I am. For them, I will happily come.”

Ads for the performance were vandalized with the words “Desecration of [G-d’s] Name” scrawled on them, presumably by those opposed to the performance.

According to the report on the website Walla!, a couple who live in the town sent an email to the entire community, describing Lider as “a known deviant."

In their message, they wrote: “How could a religious community like Elkana invite a known deviant (according to our holy Torah) to perform in our community? We don’t want to be trailblazers and to become the first religious community to invite someone who is a deviant, according to the Bible, to perform in our community... This is not the way to educate our children, and certainly we cannot close our eyes to such a performance [taking place] in our community.”

According to them, the event should be canceled, even though Lider has already been invited.

“It is not too late to acknowledge a tremendous error like this, and to fix it,” they said.

The head of Elkana’s council, Advocate Assaf Mintzer, stated that, “The 'Face to Face' festival held in Elkana is in its third year, and it was named appropriately. The festival provides interesting, quality, encounters with musicians from a variety of different backgrounds. It is held in the spirit of the Sukkot holiday, and in the festival’s tradition of featuring guests who shed light on every individual and work to unite Israel.”

Mintzer added that, “Music is a wondrous way to connect people; it is a common language. Any criticism on the basis of politics or personal preferences, whether in our case or any other, is fundamentally illegitimate. This is exactly the same as our disapproval of certain communities’ refusal to host Ariel Zilber. The only [difference] was that he is religious and has a different political bent.”

In Mintzer's words, “Artisans at the level of Ivri Lider and Hanan Ben-Ari honor us with their presence. The residents of Elkana and the surrounding towns will respect each other when they arrive en masse to the performance, as the ticket sales are demonstrating."

Homosexual relations are termed an "abomination" (toeva) in the Torah and absolutely forbidden to both Jews and non-Jews. The word "soteh" used by those against Lider can be translated in modern Hebrew as a "deviant' or as a "pervert" depending on context. The Torah does not command putting a person who is attracted to the same sex outside the pale, but it does not give any leeway to condone acting on that attraction, certainly not for openly conducting an alternative lifestyle. The issue of how to deal with people leading such lifestyles openly is an ongong controvesy between the mainstream Modern Orthodox world and the Open Orthodox, often called Neo-Conservative world - as opposed to the lifestyle itself, which is unequivocally prohibited