Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Compares ‘Immodest’ Women To Animals

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel appeared to compare women who wear immodest clothing to animals in a public sermon.

Rabbi Yizhak Yosef also counseled religious soldiers on how to protest required attendance at Israel Defense Forces ceremonies that feature women singers in the Saturday night speech first reported Sunday by the Hebrew-language haredi Orthodox news website Kikar Shabbat.

“If secular people knew how much we respected women, and all that we do to preserve women’s dignity: A woman is not an animal, you have to respect her honor. Dressing modestly is that honor,” Yosef said, according to Kikar Shabbat.

Yosef said that when he attended a state ceremony that included women singers he took off his glasses so as not to see the women and then buried his nose in a small book he carried with him to show to those around him, including the prime minister and the president, that he was not listening.

“That’s what the soldiers should do. If the soldiers are somewhere that they are ordered to hear a woman’s voice — and what kind of strange order is that anyway?” he said  “Take off their glasses, put a book in front of their eyes, and show conspicuously that we’re not listening, that our mind is on Torah.”

Religious men are not permitted to hear the singing voice of a woman. It is an issue that has dogged the IDF and its relationship with its religious soldiers, who have been required to attend ceremonies that feature women singers.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.