fbpx

Why Do Orthodox Jews Consider a Woman’s Singing Voice Immodest?


Share
  • 6
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    6
    Shares
 

Dear Allison,

I have really enjoyed reading all your articles and watching your videos — they answer many questions (some that I didn’t even know I had). One of the many things you’re good at is explaining the idea of modesty within the Jewish tradition. I recently had a Sabbath meal with a somewhat famous rabbi from the most religious part of Jerusalem, and I mostly knew what to expect. But one thing caught me off guard — the women didn’t sing because it was considered immodest. I found that especially hard to grasp and confusing because I am a singer who is possibly interested in conversion. I thought that you could help to explain a bit about why this is, and if there are contexts that are different. This may be a decision between my future career and religion. Maybe some more information would help my decision.

Thank you!

KK

Dear KK,

Thanks for your question. The issue of women not singing in front of men (kol isha) is difficult for many people to grasp in this day and age, but let’s start with the practical side of the law before we get into the philosophy behind it. Practically speaking, not all Orthodox women at all Shabbos meals refrain from singing in front of men. The strictest view, as you saw at the meal you attended, is that women, under no circumstance, sing any type of song in front of men they’re not related to.

But there are more lenient opinions as well. (See this article for a list of sources.) As always, my goal is not to make rulings as to what my readers should or shouldn’t do, but rather to make known that there are a range of opinions on this issue (and many others) depending on what Orthodox community and rabbi a person associates with.

In my circles, women often do sing at Shabbos meals, though, no one ever belts out a solo! The first circumstance where one could be more lenient is if a woman sings with at least one other person, as the Talmud says, “trei kali lo mishtamai,” which means that two voices cannot be heard simultaneously, or in other words, a women’s voice will blend when mixed in with at least one other voice.

Another leniency that some people rely on is that there are certain types of songs which men do not derive pleasure from when a woman sings them. These apply to the types of songs sung at a Shabbos meal (zemiros), songs sung to children, and lamentations for the dead.

Finally, there are some who say that it is permissible for a man to hear a recorded song sung by a woman if he doesn’t know what she looks like since the Talmud states that, “the yetzer hara (evil inclination) is not interested in what the eyes do not see.”

Now, even if someone relied on every one of these leniencies, observing the laws of kol isha would still be somewhat restrictive for both men and women. So why, you might wonder, do we do it then? First and foremost, a Torah abiding Jew believes that the mitzvos brought down in the Torah and extrapolated in the Talmud are the will of God and are what we Jews supposed to be doing in this world.

But as rational beings, an explanation always helps, and understanding the philosophy behind this law is not as hard as you might think. The singing voice of a woman is referred to as “ervah” in the Talmud, which literally means “naked,” but is best understood as that which is not meant for public consumption. The Talmud also lists parts of the body that are meant to be kept private. For a woman, it’s the arms from the elbows and up, the legs from the knees and up and everything in between. A married woman covers her hair as well. (As with all laws of modesty, women are more restricted in what they can show, whereas men are more restricted in what they can see and hear. See here for an explanation.)

There’s a time, though it’s hard to remember now, when society recognized the sensuality to a woman’s singing voice. The legend of the sirens in Greek mythology (and was present in many other cultures’ folklore later on) is a great example of the seductive nature with which a woman’s voice was once regarded.

And even as recently as 1962, Marilyn Monroe’s famous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” serenade still caught people’s attention for its sultriness. Fast forward a couple of decades and enter Madonna who broke down every barrier there was in regard to singing and sexuality. After her, singing in one’s underwear was no longer a big deal. And now, in our Lady Gaga obsessed world, people are so bored with just plain overt sexuality that this singer has to go to bizarre lengths in her costumes (bird’s nests for hats, dresses made out of bubbles) and video themes to get people’s attention.

Now some people might think that this is a good thing. Why should something like a singing voice be off limits to the general public? It holds women back. The problem with such an argument is that it doesn’t end there. There are those who go a step further and believe that men shouldn’t be fazed by the site of a woman’s bare breasts either! In fact, a group of women recently marched topless down a street in Portland, Maine in an effort to fight what they consider a double standard between the way men’s breasts are viewed and the way women’s breasts are viewed.

Their goal was for society to have the same disinterest when seeing a woman’s chest as they do when seeing a men’s chest, but such a scenario would be nightmarish according to Jewish thought. Though we believe that sexuality is meant for a private setting only, we also believe that it is essential that a wife’s body be an object of desire for her husband and vice versa.

Unfortunately, with the over-saturation of sex in our society, it takes more and more for anyone to get excited about anything these days. That’s probably why someone like Tiger Woods – a man married to a gorgeous swimsuit model – was unable to stay satisfied within his own marriage.

Years ago, when I was a freshman in college, a Jewish acapella group performed a concert one Friday night. The singing was enjoyable, but basically uneventful until a female soloist emerged.

She was a pretty girl, but not in an eye-catching way. Most guys in the room probably wouldn’t have looked twice if they saw her walking down the street. But suddenly she began to sing. And with her beautiful, deep, sultry voice, I watched all the guys around me watching her, taken in by her song. I’m sure many of those guys thought of that singer again and not in the way they think about their sister!

Now of course not all women are blessed with such an instrument, but the laws of modesty are made across the board. The idea is that if a woman possesses such a gift, she should be saving it for her husband’s enjoyment only. As for the men out there – Judaism believes that they shouldn’t be deriving that kind of pleasure from a random woman on a stage. Passion like that should be reserved for one woman and one woman only.

Of course living a life based on modesty is somewhat restrictive, but we observant Jews, who have experienced the magic that can come with a modest lifestyle understand how much is gained with this sacrifice: if everyone walks around showing everything off all of the time, there’s never a chance to uncover. However, if you set aside certain parts of yourself only to be uncovered and discovered at a special time with a special person, it can create an excitement that even the richest golf star can’t buy.

Sincerely yours,

Allison

Comments
Share
  • 6
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    6
    Shares

Comments

  1. Rabbi Jack Abramowitz : August 15, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    That’s an excellent question. We know that our ancestors voluntarily kept many mitzvos before the Torah was given. How obligatory these mitzvos were is a question that even Joseph and his brothers wrestled with. So, I wouldn’t say that the women who sang with Miriam were necessarily bound by law so much as that there was a mutually-agreed upon standard of behavior. “Das yehudis” refers to laws that started as grassroots practices accepted by Jewish women that were ratified by rabbinic law. (The idea of a binding community standard is true even today.)

    • Rabbi, this kind of answer does not explain Devorah and Barak singing together. According to the literal text they are not married. Additionally, In Shmuel, Barzilai talks about hearing women singing. Ezra the Scribe brings two hundreds women singers when he returns to Jerusalem. Moreover, there is no issue of kol isha when a woman sings in synagogue (see Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s responsum on a woman reading the megilla for a man.) Thankfully there is a spectrum of halachic thought on this topic. Rav Soloveitchik, Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, Rav Lichtenstein have no problem with women singing appropriate songs in public.

      • Rabbi Jack Abramowitz : March 20, 2014 at 10:20 am

        “this kind of answer does not explain Devorah and Barak singing together. According to the literal text they are not married”

        You say it doesn’t answer what you see as a problematic situation but you preemptively excluded an important piece of information on the basis that it does not appear in the text. (It’s not actually contradicted by the text!) The tradition that Devorah and Barak were married does not exist as a justification of her song, it’s based on the fact that “Barak” (lightning) and “Lapidos” (flashes) are essentially synonymous (although “eishes lapidos” does not necessarily mean “the wife of Lapidos.” It could also mean that Devorah was “a fiery woman.”)

        In any event, answering any of the situations you describe – if they are in fact problematic – would require relying upon extra-textual information. I assure you that Chazal (the rabbis of the Talmud) who said that “kol b’isha erva” (a woman’s voice is private) were well aware of all of these issues when they formulated that dictum.

        As far as halacha l’maaseh, the famous teshuvah of the Sridei Aish is generally regarded as the definitive word on the subject (though people largely misunderstand that teshuvah and apply it in cases where the Sridei Aish would not have permitted it).

  2. Hon, I’ll start doing things only for my husband’s enjoyment when he starts doing things only for mine.

  3. Hi,

    I find your arguments to be extremely weak, to put it mildly. Society has evolved plenty from the Greek times. You mentioned sirens in Greek mythology and this is 100% irrelevant. Also in Greek society, it was acceptable for grown men to rape little boys. In 2014, outside of the Taliban rape dens, this is seen as absolutely beyond the pale of society.

    So then you bring up Madonna and other modern singers. The issue is not their voice but the fact that Madonna wore a pointy bra. I don’t think any rational human being would claim Madonna has the best voice in the world. And someone like Adele – who has a far more beautiful voice – is not lusted after by men because of her appearance.

    The fact remains that instead of telling women they have to cover up their bodies and voices, it should be incumbent upon men to learn how to control themselves. Otherwise, why not make women wear burqas? If men cannot control themselves, then ultimately that is what they should do.

    If men learn self control, then women singing should be no problem at all. As an example, I attend a conservative shul with a female cantor. Every man has behaved with utmost respect towards the cantor.

    I would like to add that your arguments make even less sense given that we live in a world of gays and lesbians. Some men will not be able to control themselves over the singing voices of other men. Should everyone cover up and avoid singing? Surely the answer is yes, by your logic.

  4. One more thing. If we declare a woman’s singing voice (and her elbows, for that matter) is sexual, then instead of de-sexualizing the over-sexed Western society, we are actually adding more sexuality and repression.

    Perfect (more extreme) example – if you go to naked beaches on Fire Island, do you know what you see? No problem at all! Naked people interacting with each other as if there was not a care in the world. No problem with rapes, no problem with sexual harassment.

    In contrast, look at Lara Logan, who was totally clothed, and attacked and raped in Tahrir Square. Hell, there was an imam in Iraq who issued a fatwa to diaper goats. Why? Because otherwise the genitalia of goats was too sexy and enticing to men and the goat is pretty much “asking for it”.

    Context matters. Being able to control yourself matters. Instead of placing the burden on women to cover up the burden should be on men to control their libidos.

    • Rabbi Jack Abramowitz : March 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Please forgive me for speaking for Allison but from what I’ve seen, her approach (like my own) is descriptive rather than prescriptive. She’s explaining why we do what we do, not telling you what to do. But you still seem rather angry about this. You keep coming back to rape and the supposed inability of men to control themselves, neither of which has anything to do with Allison’s points. Kol isha, like other modesty protocols, is not about control, it’s about respect.

      I always say that kol isha is a two-sided coin. Is it that women aren’t allowed to sing in front of men or that men aren’t allowed to listen to women sing? My wife would be able to go to far more concerts and Broadway shows than the halacha allows me, so who is being “controlled” by the law, men or women? And, since you keep straying into Islam for extreme examples, while I don’t know any Muslimas who wear a burqa, I have several friends who wear the hijab and they all do so voluntarily because they feel it enhances their religious observance.

      So nobody is telling you what to do. Go to all the nude beaches you want if that’s your thing! But if we choose an approach that works for us, don’t assume that it’s enabling a culture of rape or oppression because nothing could be farther from the truth.

      • Singing Girl : March 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm

        Look – if a woman feels she is more spiritual and connected to God by wearing a hijab or a sheitel or not singing in front of men – fine. If they do so without any compulsion from a man – fine. As long as they do not in any way believe that wearing hijab or a sheitel is necessary to help men control their libidos, or if they do not wear said garments, then they are enticing men to sin. If they see these garments as little more than a prayer shawl – that is their business.

        However, by telling women that their singing voice is too sexy or alluring for anyone but their husbands to hear, or even by linking something as benign as a voice or the female head of hair to sexuality, then inherently you are sexualizing the female body far more than Western culture does. And that should be acknowledged.

        • Allison Josephs Allison Josephs : March 25, 2014 at 2:25 pm

          Hi Singing Girl. Thanks for your comments, I’m gonna jump in here. This is my take as a woman who was raised without these ideas (I grew up Conservative) and chose to adopt them. I first and foremost live a halachic lifestyle because I believe in the system. I believe in the Jewish people. I believe in a God that gave us a Torah and a method to apply Jewish law throughout all time. This system is meaningful to me and there is much truth that I have perceived in it – in the living of these mitzvos and the in depth learning of our holy books.

          However – coming from a 21st Century Western mentality, not all parts of our tradition seem to jive with what I grew up with. We live in a world where a woman’s voice or hair or elbows or knees for that matter appear to be asexual. They’re everywhere. We have become desensitized to them.

          One commenter noted on some post at some point that it would be great if women could just run around topless like men can so those parts lose their “wow” effect too. It’s my personal belief (and I think traditional Judaism agrees) that there is something special about having these parts be able to “wow” men still. I think most women would be pretty disappointed if their breasts did nothing for the man in their life.

          Judaism takes this idea one step further and by making certain parts off limits: i.e. voice, elbow, knees, etc. it means that these parts which seem to have no sexuality to them are able to have sexuality. When a couple doesn’t touch for half the month when practicing the laws of family purity, something as innocent as hand holding and hugging gets a whole new potency to it when the couple reunites.

          So that’s how I see this ideas as an Orthodox feminist. There is a sacrifice I’m making by not showing all these parts or singing in front of men. But my husband also sacrifices. He exposes himself less to other women in these ways and then those parts of me become more special to him and that makes me feel pretty great.

          Like Rabbi Abramowitz said, I’m not here to tell anyone what he or she should be doing. I’m explaining why I’ve chosen this lifestyle and why it’s meaningful to me.

          Cheers!

          • Hi Allison,
            I am a Christian woman and I just happened onto this site and started reading. I don’t know anything about Jewish laws, but, thanks to your descriptions and interpretations, I think I understand enough to follow this line of questions and answers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there’s a lot I don’t understand, as well, and I’m sure there’s way more to the laws and beliefs than one could write about adequately in this medium. One should study completely before making any judgments. I was just intrigued by the subject matter and it sparked a few questions and observations. First, let me say that I do understand that you have chosen to believe in these laws and lifestyle of your own free will, just like I choose to believe in the Bible and it’s laws to live by. Ok so here goes…
            What are the consequences of a man becoming so aroused by a woman singing/her immodesty/her hair or whatever that he “spills his seed”? What are the consequences of a woman who breaks the laws of immodesty or sings in public? From a Christian standpoint these would be called “sins” and we would have to pray for forgiveness and try not to repeat the sins again.
            As far as the laws of immodesty, I have the following thoughts: We are males and females, but even before that – we are ALL human beings, right? And all human beings are, by nature, “sexual” beings, right? But, I would hope that you would agree that we are, by no means, “just” sexual beings. You wouldn’t say that all a woman is good for – is for sex, or vice-versa – all a man is good for is sex, right? We are so much more. A woman is/can be a mother, provider, caretaker, friend, partner, housekeeper, cook, etc. A man is a provider, protector, cook, housekeeper, friend, partner, etc. So, if our sexuality is only say 10-15% of who we are, then why do we need immodesty laws? Doesn’t the law inherently objectify her by giving so much weight to just 10-15% of her being? Doesn’t it imply that she is looked at, first and foremost, as a sexual being instead of all of the other wonderful things she is? I, personally believe, this law has more to do with men feeling threatened that their woman (and remember 1,000 yrs. ago and even less, women were “property”) might be taken from them. It implies that the woman is some kind of seductress and will tempt men, other than her husband. (I also believe this theory dates back to Adam and Eve.) In other words, the fault lies with the woman, instead of the man who becomes aroused or steals/seduces/or is tempted by the woman. I’m not sure how tight the clothing is that you are required to wear, but, believe me, men have great imaginations and it doesn’t take much for a man to be attracted by what he “believes” is under the clothing. And it doesn’t even have to be the stereotypical “sexual” parts either. What about men with a foot fetish? Do your feet have to be covered around men you are not related to? Also, a man can get to know a woman and fall in “lust” with her, too. I do agree that a man is typically more “visual” than a woman and can become aroused by what he sees, but it’s his choice what to do with that “arousal”. Which leads me to this question: Is it a “sin” to be aroused or just to take it further by “spilling his seed”?
            In the case of a woman singing, did I understand correctly that a man could listen to a woman singing so long as he doesn’t know what she looks like? If a woman’s voice can be so alluring and seductive to a man, again, shouldn’t the onous be on him to control himself instead of on the woman? Shouldn’t the law about a man becoming so aroused that he spills his seed be the only applicable law? I mean, you can’t makes laws about every possible thing that a man could become aroused by, right? Or else that would be like removing all responsibility for his actions or reactions that may lead him to break the laws. At some point, there has to be an accounting for one’s own behavior. As far as the laws that you say are about mutual “respect” (immodesty on hers and “don’t look” law for him) – again, I don’t think anyone can “not look” if you are living in the secular world, even when the clothing is immodest. I believe everyone takes that first 3 seconds of observation naturally, whether making a judgment or not, we have to look at who we are speaking to/doing business with, etc. The mind will do the rest, especially in men.
            Anyway, I appreciate your answers and explanations.

  5. Rabbi Jack Abramowitz : January 28, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Hey, Daralynn. There’s a lot here, so I’m going to take it piecemeal.

    <>

    Judaism doesn’t have the emphasis on sin that Christianity does. Our viewpoint is that the commandments reflect the will of G-d, Who only wants what’s best for us, and that should be all the reason we need to do that. In a Jewish household, you might hear, “Don’t do that – it’s not allowed on the Sabbath!” or “Don’t eat that – it’s not kosher!” but you’ll never hear those phrases followed by “It’s a sin!” We don’t follow the laws to get into Heaven or to avoid Hell, we do them because they represent the will of G-d as best we understand it.

    That’s not to say that there isn’t a concept of sin. There is, and when one has done something wrong, he must repent. Repentance can (and should) be done year-round but the ten days from Rosh Hashana through Yom Kippur are specially designated for reviewing our deeds, making amends, and resolving to improve.

    So, what happens if someone acts inappropriately? He should resolve to do better. Any spiritual consequences are in G-d’s hands and are strictly His business.

    <>

    Not at all. It ENSURES that she’s looked at as all of those other things. People respect women like Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, etc. – if you mentally conjure an image of any of them, it is inherently modest. People may LIKE Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton, and Kesha (excuse me – “Ke$ha”), but they don’t * respect * them. And the objectification of these women is part of the reason why. The modesty laws de-emphasize the sexual aspect specifically so we can focus on the rest of the person. (See my book “The Tzniyus Book” for more on this: http://www.amazon.com/The-Tzniyus-Book-Jack-Abramowitz/dp/1441577963)

    <>

    You’re projecting Christian theology onto Judaism. We don’t have a concept of “original sin” or that woman is responsible for “the fall.” Adam and Eve were equally responsible for their actions and each punished accordingly. (Actually, Adam tried to blame Eve – see Genesis 3:12 – but G-d wasn’t having it!)

    Similarly, the idea that women were ever considered “property” in Jewish law is groundless. Women always had a surprising number of rights compared to other contemporary cultures. For example, a woman could not be married against her will, she could own her own property, her husband has numerous marital obligations to her, etc. They were never considered chattel.

    <>

    The rules are the rules, they don’t change based on individual preferences. A woman may not undress in front of a gay man, who wouldn’t be aroused. If a man has an earlobe fetish, she need not cover her earlobes around him.

    Now, let’s say that someone does have a fetish for something that is normally permitted to look at. It would be advisable for him to protect himself from undue arousal as much as possible. (Anyone can walk into a liquor store and buy a fifth; some people shouldn’t because they can’t handle alcohol. The same is true here.)

    <>

    Again, the emphasis isn’t on “sin,” it’s on right and wrong behavior. The arousal itself should be avoided even if it doesn’t lead to seminal emission. (You can get a ticket for going 80 mph, even if you don’t hit anyone. If you hit someone, it’s just worse! Same here.)

    << In the case of a woman singing, did I understand correctly that a man could listen to a woman singing so long as he doesn't know what she looks like? If a woman's voice can be so alluring and seductive to a man, again, shouldn't the onous be on him to control himself instead of on the woman? Shouldn't the law about a man becoming so aroused that he spills his seed be the only applicable law? I mean, you can't makes laws about every possible thing that a man could become aroused by, right? Or else that would be like removing all responsibility for his actions or reactions that may lead him to break the laws. At some point, there has to be an accounting for one's own behavior. As far as the laws that you say are about mutual "respect" (immodesty on hers and "don't look" law for him) – again, I don't think anyone can "not look" if you are living in the secular world, even when the clothing is immodest. I believe everyone takes that first 3 seconds of observation naturally, whether making a judgment or not, we have to look at who we are speaking to/doing business with, etc. The mind will do the rest, especially in men.

    A man may not listen to a live woman singing; the rationale of “doesn’t know what she looks like” only applies in the case of recorded music, though it’s not a universal standard. (And the onus IS on him; Lady Gaga and Madonna don’t come to my house and play their CDs.) And, as mentioned, seminal emission doesn’t enter into it.

    The Sages set certain safeguards in all areas of law. On the Sabbath, we don’t move things that may not be used. We don’t eat chicken with milk. Women should cover their upper arms. While they are meant to keep us from inadvertently violating biblical-level prohibitions, these safeguards are rules in their own rights. (Again, like not speeding is meant to keep us from killing pedestrians.) But only the safeguards they enacted are laws. I can eat fish with milk. A woman need not wear gloves around men in order to cover her hands.

    But men ARE responsible for their own actions! I just said that a woman need not wear gloves around men for modesty reasons, but the Talmud says that if a man counts change into a woman’s hand with the intention that he should derive pleasure from staring at it, it’s the same as if he stared at her genitals. She need not cover her hands; the onus is on him to act appropriately. (Similarly, men may sit next to women on crowded subway cars because there’s nothing sexual about it. If one is aroused by it, however, he may not do so.)

    I hope this helps!

  6. Thank you, Rabbi, for your reply. I think I have a better understanding now. I appreciate your in-depth answer to my questions. It opened my eyes to a few things that I wasn’t aware of (ie. Adam and Eve and “original sin” and how it is viewed in Judaism). It was all very interesting and I’m glad that I submitted my questions!! Good luck to you and yours and G-d bless!

  7. Chaya Howell : March 2, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Thank you for such a wonderful blog! I am on the journey of the baal teshuva, but am really struggling with this trouble of being unable to sing in public. I am a singer and have been for most of my life (I am 19 now). I am currently majoring in music and want to use my gift of singing to help the world. But I am nervous now that I cannot. What is your advice?
    Also, I am still confused as to why men can sing and women cannot. I know so many women who only become attracted to men because of their voices. They then do everything in their power to get the men to like them, including acting in immodest ways. So how is that different, other than spilling of the seed in men’s causes.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Allison Josephs Allison Josephs : March 3, 2015 at 9:52 am

      Thanks, Chaya! This can be a tough mitzvah for any woman (and remember it limits men as well in terms of entertainment they can partake in), but especially for singers. There are some pretty incredible women who are making a career out of singing to women only audiences, like Bullet Proof Stockings, Shaindel Antelis, and Moran Sabbah https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK6qvn_S1hk

      You can still use singing to help the world, but it may not be exactly as you envisioned it. When it comes to halacha – there will be things that are easier for people and harder and it’s not an all or nothing thing. Life is meant to be a growth process, so take your time as you grow. It is a marathon, not a sprint! And reach out to these women to hear how they are doing it. Good luck!

  8. I am reform jewish i go to a modern orthodox school i am in the drama club we r doing matilda though i get no solo i still am so mad about this

    • Rabbi Jack Abramowitz : December 1, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      I’m not sure if you’re saying that you’re mad about not getting a solo because of kol isha or if you’re mad about this blog post. I’ll answer both.

      1. Assuming that you’re angry about not getting a solo:

      That’s understandable and, believe it or not, I can totally relate. I also went to a modern Orthodox school – I started in eighth grade before I was Sabbath-observant. I was there by choice because I wanted to learn but I didn’t agree with a number of the rules. One I recall was that they opposed certain outside activities, like rock concerts. (Even today, I love rock concerts!) From my point of view, it was none of their business what I did outside of school hours, but I wanted to attend this school and that meant accepting the rules.

      The same is true of dress codes, which many students object to. They may not agree with them religiously, but it’s a school rule like any other, so it’s not optional. One can petition for change but until that happens, students are obligated because it’s a school rule, theological issues aside.

      Here, too, you may not agree with the policy. You may feel that the religious underpinning is misguided. Such is your prerogative. But whatever the religious basis of the policy is, the bottom line is that it’s the school policy. There’s simply not much you can do about that.

      All that having been said, a musical featuring a female protagonist is an odd choice for a school that won’t give girls solos!

      2. Assuming that you’re mad about the blog post:

      What about it angers you?

  9. There was the case recently of a girl not being able to wear patent leather shoes at her religious school so that the opposite sex couldn’t see up her skirt. I’m sorry ,the female singing voice restriction comes out of the same stable. Men sitting around in yeshivas with too much time on their hands inevitably developing impure thoughts which in the normal world would be considered an insult to the intelligence and moral compass of most of us.

    • Allison Josephs Allison Josephs : April 29, 2019 at 11:16 am

      Thanks for your comment, Simon. A ban on patent leather shoes has no basis in Jewish law or even reality. The restriction on a singing voice is based on the Talmud. It would be fair to argue that times have changed and that what was once considered immodest no longer is, but despite that, we don’t have a system in place to undo such a prohibition. I won’t say there aren’t challenges in halacha like this, but any group that has tried to pick and choose this law and leave that law behind has ultimately failed. So while I can agree that certain laws are harder to understand in our day and age, I am willing to live with them and even happy to in order to keep the system intact.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Allison Josephs

Allison is the Founder and Director of Jew in the City. Please find her full bio here.

Close