Female cantor billed at city-sponsored selichot

Director of Jerusalem municipality culture department adds a female cantor to selichot event after pressure from city council members.

Yoel Domb ,

selichot in Jerusalem
selichot in Jerusalem
צילום: חזקי ברוך

After repeated pressure from members of the Hitorerut faction in the Jerusalem City Council, the director of the culture department, Yoram Braverman, intervened in a city-sponsored event of selichot and liturgical prayers and added a female cantor to the list of artists who would be performing at the event in the Gilo neighborhood.

While the billing of a female cantor can be touted as equal participation for women in the event, it discriminates against men who do not listen to female singers for halakhic reasons, who are thus barred from attending.

Hitorerut members Ofer Berkowitz and Einav Bar Cohen had responded to complaints by a resident of the neighborhood who claimed that it was wrong to have such an event without any female artists being billed to perform.

The event, called "Opening the Gates of Prayer", took place on Wednesday evening. Unfortunately, by the time Braverman added the female cantor, masses of tickets had already been sold with a list of male liturgical singers. The result was that a large segment of the audience rose and left the event when, to their dismay and utter surprise, a female singer took the stage.

A week ago a similar event was cancelled in Tel Aviv after complaints from members of Knesset and communal activists that it had only billed male singers in accordance with the request of sponsor and funder Jeff Schottenstein - and, of course, the same halakhic limitations kept by those who paid but could not enjoy the event in Gilo because of the female singer.