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Aug 3, 2008

Women singing in the Knesset

Can anyone please explain something to me:

A short while ago there was a big deal made about the PM of England visiting Israel and speaking in the Knesset. He was going to be greeted by the Knesset choir singing Hatikvah. It was decided, and announced, that there would be no women singing in the group, out of sensitivity to the Haredi MKs - so as not to force them to walk out so as not to hear women singing (kol isha).

The media made a big deal out of it and many people were upset... Now the news is reporting that some womens groups are organizing some form of protest in which they will sing from the guest section of the Knesset, and in other places...

OK, whatever.

What I do not understand is this - have women never sung before in the Knesset? What did the Haredi MKs do in those situations? If they did not make a big deal out of it in previous situations, why did they do so this time? If women did not sing previously, for the same reasons they did not this time, why is everyone making a big deal out of it now?

Basically, what changed, and why did it change?


  1. And you forgot your last, salient question: is this the biggest issue we have to deal with, considering security, education, poverty, corruption, incompetence in gov't, and the other critical issues confronting Am Yisrael? And is this bringing people CLOSER to Hashem's Torah?


  2. I disagree - not always does everything have to be the most important thing on the list. Sometimes we need to do the less important things as well.

    So even if this is not the most important thing, it still might have been necessary (not saying it was, just not precluding it).

    BTW, as far as I know, I did not hear the Haredi MKs making a big ruckus out of it and forcing them to get rid of the women singers. Perhaps they made the request quietly and someone leaked it. the media made it into a big deal, not the Haredi MKs...

  3. Rafi,

    I'm not sure exactly what you mean, but I was only addressing your question, i.e., why there is a difference in this case.

  4. yoni - I do not see any previous comment of yours on this post where you address the question....

  5. Sorry. I thought I had posted a comment earlier (I must have messed up the word verification).

    I had written something along the lines of that a foreign dignitary may not understand, and would probably get insulted. Instant international-incident. However, other times, if whoever decides these things thinks that there should be a women's choir, and the price is that some religious MKs will leave, that's OK, since the "price" of their leaving is minimal, or at least tolerable. It's actually a pretty practical solution, which is saying a lot considering that both politics and religion are involved.

  6. I wonder what would happen if these mk's were at an event in another country and there were women singers, would they walk out? Somehow I doubt it.

    All these poloticians, they are tough guys on our dimes. Most of them are just whiny greedy crybabies who'll play any scam for money and power. In israel it gets them money and power to have that power play, overseas it would be an incident and they would of course get a heter from their rav for kol isha.

  7. No Rafi, they didn't sing in the Knesset before (only girls under 12 in a children's choir).
    This is a case of our illustrious Zvulun Orlev (who has really many z'chuyot) but in this case he 'shot himself in the foot' as they say in these parts. (see here http://isramom.blogspot.com/2008/07/tell-me-it-aint-so.html)
    He is the leader of the Knesset choir (which includes women and sings everywhere but in the Knesset chamber) and he booked the choir for the Knesset and then had to be reminded that it was a no-no and then had to explain why it's OK for him to sing with these women but not in front of the charedi MKs.
    Got it?

  8. thanks Risa. That is a good explanation. Could that be the reason for rumors that Zevulun Orlev is being pushed out of the Mafdal for the next elections?


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