(JTA) — A popular Haredi Orthodox singer covered his eyes with tape during a Jerusalem concert so he would not have to see women dancing.
Watching women dance is forbidden in Orthodox Jewish law, but Yonatan Razel’s move on Sunday is being called unprecedented. He covered his eyes for a few minutes at the International Conference Center show when some women began to dance at the front of the crowd, then removed the tape for the rest of the concert.
Razel, 44, is one of Israel’s most successful Haredi performers and recently released his third album. The concert was at a festival of Orthodox music for women.
Razel’s move prompted some criticism online and from women’s groups.
“How far will this ostensibly religious extremism go?” Galia Wolloch, head of the women’s rights group Na’amat, wrote on Facebook. “And who are the religious authorities who encourage this bizarre behavior?”
Razel’s representative said the singer’s actions have been overly scrutinized.
“Razel wants to say that he has appeared regularly for years before women and respects them, and his actions yesterday should not be given any other significance,” he said.