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Singing Across Israel for Women's Dignity

?Don?t Stop Singing.?

Photo: Adi Elkin and Mayrav Goldberg

?Don?t Stop Singing.?

Good news — Israeli women are fighting back against those who would hide and silence them.

Recent developments for women in Israel have been worrisome and depressing, as readers of this blog are well aware. There has been increasing gender separation on buses and on public streets, harassment of young Beit Shemesh girls whose only crime is attending their school, trouble in the Israel Defense Forces with religious officers walking out of ceremonies in which women are singing, as well as the disappearance of women from Jerusalem billboards.

For Hila Bunyovich-Hoffman, a Tel Aviv woman who has a master’s degree in gender studies, works as a technical writer and blogs about women’s issues, it has all become too much. She decided that someone had to take action. On her Hebrew-language blog and on a Facebook event page she created, she announced a Tel Aviv street protest in which a group of women would stand in public and sing, to make their voices heard.

The tidal wave of response to her initiative has been “unexpected and overwhelming,” she told The Sisterhood in an interview.

Shortly after she announced the Tel Aviv event, scheduled for November 11, simultaneous protests in Jerusalem and in Haifa were organized, and a fourth event, in Beersheva, is now being put together.

What took her from merely blogging about gender issues to organizing a real-life protest? She said:

Triggering her outrage in particular was the response of Israel’s chief rabbi to the controversy regarding women’s singing in IDF ceremonies, in which he recommended female singing be avoided to protect religious male sensibilities, citing the law which compares a women’s voice to “nakedness” or, as she points out — is more literally translated as sound that is “pubic.” In a long, impassioned post on her blog, translated here, Bunyovich-Hoffman declared:

She didn’t set out to create a mass protest. Originally, she said, “the idea was to take a few good friends and go somewhere with a guitar and sing in order to spread awareness, maybe do a flash mob or something along those lines.” But the media attention and tremendous flood of support to the event she created on Facebook quickly made it clear that this would be no small-scale protest. (As of this writing, more than 700 people on Facebook have confirmed their attendance.)

She compares the unexpected response to the social protest movement that swept Israel this past summer:

Bunyovich-Hoffman and her supporters are now busy putting together a songbook with appropriate tunes for the protests. She wrote in her blog that the underlying message of the event should be simple and clear, telling those who plan to participate:

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