The term ‘community colloquium’ is misleading

  • 2b-Letter6
Dianne Fine writes that "The Cape Jewish Board of Deputies is planning a community colloquium (for June 20) to discuss the matter of women singing at secular events. The title of “community colloquium” is misleading as it suggests inclusion of the whole Jewish community."
by Diane Fine | Jun 15, 2016

Not representative

It is important to realise that this is an internal discussion between representatives of affiliates of the Board; it is not a public discussion and is open only to invited delegates.

Neither the applicants in the matter (two Orthodox Capetonians and SACRED), nor any members of the broader Jewish community are welcome to attend. It is a forum for the affiliates of the Board to share their views, presumably in support of the Board’s stance (against allowing women to sing solo at such events). Significant sections of the Jewish community are not represented by the Board and their views (therefore) will not be heard at the colloquium.

Though it may be useful for this group to share their views internally, the most valuable outcome would be a commitment to reopen dialogue with the applicants in the matter placed before the Equality Court.

The chairman of the meeting, Bobby Godsell, will facilitate the expression of views by those present, but any document he can produce reflecting this discussion can only represent the opinion of a section of our diverse community.

I believe that it would be more useful to commission him to facilitate a discussion between the various parties in an attempt to find a resolution of the matter without it having to go to court.

It is useful to remember that the Board unilaterally changed the rules as regards women’s voices at secular events only after the current Orthodox chief rabbi rose to power. Under the wiser leadership of (the late) Rabbi Cyril Harris, women were not silenced.

Over a number of years, attempts have been made to engage the Board on the matter of women singing and they have remained intransigent. It has taken the drastic action of a few brave members of our community to take the matter to court for the discussion to even be raised in the public sphere.

For unexplained reasons the affiliates of the Board remain in the thrall of a handful of conservative rabbis and place their rights above those of 50 per cent of the Jewish population - the Jewish women.

It is inexplicable why the Board is not urgently trying to communicate and negotiate with the applicants and why it is choosing to allow the matter to run headlong towards the secular authority of the courts for a resolution of what is essentially an internal matter.

The applicants have repeatedly called for discussion and it is hoped that the outcome of this colloquium will be a commitment to discussion and serious reflection on issues of discrimination against women.


Diane Fine



  1. 2 yitzchak 15 Jun
    You need to correct your stats,DF
    Your view from the Progressive Reform Temple must reread corrected"
    The X% of Progressive reform women whom you represent.
    Certainly not 50% of all Jewesses in RSA.

    That it should come from you is no surprise since your record is davka especially on Israel's right to self defence in the past.
  2. 1 Melissa 17 Jun
    Diane, the current orthodox chief rabbi didn't simply "rise to power" - the community voted for him. So, if they they are unhappy with his right wing orthodoxy, they have only themselves to blame.


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