Music lovers attending a concert this Sunday night in Jerusalem’s Binyanei Ha’Uma were treated to an unusual moment when Yonatan Razel, a massively popular haredi singer and entertainer, pulled out a piece of electrical tape and used it to cover his eyes after he spotted a group of women dancing in the aisles.
The singer’s management team said in a statement that while he “performed throughout the entire concert in front of women, he covered his eyes for a few minutes when some women formed dance circles near the stage. It was his personal decision, in order to avoid looking at dancing women, and afterwards he removed the tape and continued to perform as usual. Razel would like to state that he has been performing in front of women for years and respects them.”
But not everyone is ready to accept Razel’s sentiments. Galia Wolloch, the president of the women’s organization Na’amat, told the Israeli press she was shocked when she saw a video of the performance online. Razel’s decision, she said, was proof of religious Jews in Israel becoming more fundamentalist in their views. And, she added, she was particularly troubled to see so many religious women enjoy Razel’s performance. “I was stunned to see so many women continue to dance and sing along,” she said. “I don’t understand how they didn’t feel disdained.”
Some Haredi women seem to agree: In interviews with the popular online haredi magazine Behadrei Haredim, several of Razel’s female fans said they felt deeply disrespected by his move. “I was a very big fan of his music,” said one woman, “but now it’s difficult for me to respect him as a person and to feel connected to his art. I really don’t understand why he did what he did.”
You can watch Razel’s performance here.