Sivan Shaked, a female singer who studies at Tel Aviv University’s school of music, will sing at the Memorial Day event on Tuesday, the university has announced.
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It follows a Channel 10 TV report that Beoz Ruham, the organization that rented the hall from the university for the ceremony, refrains from having women singers at its ceremonies for religious reasons.
Three male singers were originally intended to sing at the ceremony, but the university decided to include a woman singing “Hatikvah” at the end of the ceremony in the wake of the TV report.
Beoz Ruham (“courage” in Hebrew) commemorates fallen Israel Defense Forces soldiers “out of a discourse of power and hope.” Despite the organization’s claims that it does not deliberately exclude women, all its ceremonies this year feature male singers only, though some large choirs include women.
Beoz Ruham, which also holds activities in schools and runs tours “in the footsteps of fighters” for the general public, is a cooperative project of several institutions identified with religious Zionism, some of them connected to Education Minister Naftali Bennett or his party, Habayit Hayehudi.
One of the heads of the organization told Channel 10 that “the decision to use male singers was meant to avoid offending some of the participants and the bereaved families.”
“We regret that some people want to raise baseless claims and to divert attention from the organization’s activity, which is designed to commemorate the fallen,” Beoz Ruham said in a statement. It added that women will perform as part of the artistic accompaniment in many of the Memorial Day services, including in women’s and mixed choirs, and as presenters.
The Education Ministry, which is sponsoring the event, refused to comment.
TAU said: “The university asked Beoz Ruham for explanations following the Channel 10 report regarding the exclusion of women from the Memorial Day ceremony. They said that they don’t have a policy of excluding women from their events.”
Beoz Ruham also denied that it excludes women, explaining that woman singers were not included in the university program because none were available.
“In order to ensure that there would be no exclusion of women, the university offered to find a female singer from the TAU school of music,” the university said.
“The university is committed to the basic values of human dignity, equality and pluralism, and is opposed to any attempt to offend them and in particular any attempt at any exclusion of women from the public space.”