Eighty Percent of State-funded Hanukkah Events Have Male-only Casts

Local authorities organize the events, but the Jewish Culture Department of the Ministry for Higher Education funds and advertises them. Channel 20 will air eight performances for children, all of which will feature only men

Shira Kadari-Ovadia
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An ad on Facebook for a Hannukah show with an all-male cast in Tirat Hacarmel
An ad on Facebook for a Hannukah show with an all-male cast in Tirat Hacarmel Credit: Jewish Culture Department of the Ministry for Higher Education / Facebook
Shira Kadari-Ovadia

Some 80 percent of the Hannukah events funded by the Jewish Culture Department of the Ministry for Higher Education will not include any female performers or presenters, a Haaretz examination shows.

Since the department has not issued a list of the events it is funding, the examination is based on those events advertised on the department’s Facebook page. Of the 66 mostly virtual events advertised to the general public, 53 have male-only casts. Ten have female-only casts, while three others have mixed-casts, in which men and women perform together. Although these events are organized by local authorities, the department oversees all events it funds and advertises them.

For example, the Jerusalem Municipality used department funding for a festival with eight shows for children to be broadcast on Channel 20, all of which feature male-only casts. In Dimona there will be a male-only children's show, three lectures by men and another lecture by a woman. The Megillot and Tamar regional councils are organizing a festival of stand-up comedy, also featuring only male comics.

The Jewish Culture Department until recently was part of the Education Ministry, but was moved to the new Higher Education Ministry when the current government was formed. While one could define Jewish culture very broadly, critics say the department has a clear right-wing/Orthodox orientation.

The Torah and Labor Faithful movement, which is identified with the more liberal stream in Orthodoxy, issued a report last year examining how department funding provided to local authorities is used. The report stated that the department is not managed transparently, that it allocates money without clear criteria, and does not carefully check how the money is spent. Sometimes there are large gaps between the budget given to a local authority for producing an event and the amounts actually expended on it.

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