SA Organisations

Compromise on women singing looks likely

  • Kol Isha HOME
After the Cape Council of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies earlier this week rejected a compromise offer made by three claimants who are taking the Cape Board to the Equality Court over the constitutionality of not allowing women to sing at Jewish secular events, the Board has now agreed to hold a colloquium comprising all interested parties within the next two months.
by Vanessa Valkin | Apr 21, 2016

This case is being deemed urgent as the claimants want it settled before the Board-hosted Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) event on May 5. Papers were originally lodged on April 1 in the Equality Court by Advocate Anton Katz SC on behalf of two Orthodox Cape residents, Gilad Stern and Sarah Goldstein. 

Kol IshaIn response to the Board’s latest offer, the applicants told SA Jewish Report on Thursday that they have proposed that as far as this year’s Holocaust Memorial ceremony is concerned, a female singer should lead the attendees in the singing of national anthems at the end of the service.

Those who choose to leave the ceremony early, will be free to do so, before the singing of the national anthems at its conclusion. The applicants said that if the Board accept this proposal they will drop their case

The claimants said that the Board’s proposal of an inclusive colloquium on the issue to be held within two months is “a good one” subject to what is suggested regarding the appointment of a chairperson and facilitator and the suggestion relating to the women singing at the end of the ceremony.



The applicants  told Jewish Report that they propose that former Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs be the chairperson and facilitator and that Justice Sachs has agreed.


  1. 5 Ilan Solomons 25 Apr
    I think clarity required here. Did the board reject the proposal to have women singing the national anthems?

    If so then we are no closer to resolving this matter than we were before, which means that the headline to this story is somewhat misleading.

    Further, this colloquium sounds to me like a stalling tactic to avoid addressing the issue before this year's Yom Hashaoh ceremony, particularly as the time frame is in the next two months, which means that it is likely only to take place post the event

    I am all for negotiations and discussions but to use them as a delaying tactic is not acceptable.

  2. 4 Pam 28 Apr
    My goodness, to involve the court in a dispute such as this boggles my mind - to quote Fiddler on the Roof - Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof! ... Because of our traditions, we've kept our balance for many, many years". If you don't like the tradition, by all means start your own synagogue or sing in Reform Synagogue, but to make such a spectacle, and for what? I feel this woman has issues, needing attention at the expense of causing so much trouble and letting a judge decide the fate of a religious ceremony? I think this woman should hang her head in shame. If she want to sing so badly she should go inside her shower, her garden, her car and sing for all she's worth and be done with it. This is not about what is right or wrong or just or unjust, it's about someone wanting attention at no matter what the cost. I am disgusted. I am by no means an observant Jew, and even as such, I would not try and rock the boat like this.  This is just a bad public display and weakens, not strengthens us already in a tenuous position in the world.  If she's a rabbi in her soul she would know this.  She's attention seeking and in my opinion therefore not fit to be a rabbi.  A rabbi does not seek to fight, but seeks a peaceful solution, always.  
  3. 3 David B 30 Apr
    Does equality of women mean so little to our educated democratic community ? How can we even dare to openly discuss A female Rabbi's right and other women's right to sing at a Jewish function? ?
    Is the Jewish Orthodox movement trying to live in past centuries, that this even remains a subject to discuss , let alone go to court over? ? 
    Get over it ! and accept that our wonderful Jewish women and Jewish women Rabbis are equal -- full stop. 
  4. 2 Sue 01 May
    Surely those who made the ruling should be only too happy to get an opportunity to uphold it? Why should they expect other people to uphold the ruling on their behalf? And does the ruling say that women shall not sing, or does it say men shall not listen to women sing? If the latter, surely those men are free to walk out and thereby honour their own ruling. Indeed, surely that will be the only right thing for them to do. Women can be such an uncontrollable and inconsiderate lot. It would take a real man to simply walk away.

    As for tradition, there are several at play, not just one.
  5. 1 Anthony Lange 23 Aug
    YOU MIGHT NOT LIKE THE GUY - BUT LISTEN  to what the 'Rabbis' are NOT SAYING.....


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