Haredi singer performs with eyes shut to avoid seeing women dance
Popular Ultra-Orthodox singer Yonatan Razel covers his eyes with masking tape while performing one of his songs in Jerusalem as women dance in circles at the foot of the stage; 'radicalism is spilling over into the heart of the mainstream,' women's organization head says in response to video.
In the past, Razel performed in front of women without covering his eyes, but sources involved in the production of his concerts say he told them his rabbi had instructed him not to sing in front of women in an open performance involving ticket sales.
The 44-year-old Razel is considered one of the most famous and successful Haredi singers in Israel. He recently released his third album. Four years ago, he won the Best Song of the Year Award from the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers in Israel (ACUM).
The show's production company offered the following response: "Yonatan Razel performed with his eyes open in front of the women throughout the entire show. The segment in which he is seen covering his eyes took place for only a few minutes, when women began dancing in circles at the foot of the stage. It was his personal decision, so as not to sit with his eyes open in front of the dancing women. He then removed the tape and continued his performance as usual.
"Razel would like to say that he has been performing in front of women regularly for years and he respects women, and that his act should not be interpreted in any other way."
Galia Wolloch, president of the Na'amat women's organization criticized Razel's conduct. "We were shocked to see the video," she said. "How far can this alleged religious radicalization go? Who are the halachic rulers who encourage the horrific behavior reflected here?
"What really scares me is the spillover of radicals and radicalism into the heart of the mainstream of Religious Zionism, as this is a singer who is very popular among men and women in the religious sector and not just there. I saw the video and was shocked at the fact that women were singing and dancing. I can't understand how they didn’t feel disparaged."