Anger and confusion as strictly-Orthodox girls banned from London concert

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Anger and confusion as strictly-Orthodox girls banned from London concert

Girls' schools and religious authorities say Orthodox women should stay away from event featuring female Jewish Orthodox singers

Orthodox singer Bracha Jaffe, who is performing in London on 15 January 2023
Orthodox singer Bracha Jaffe, who is performing in London on 15 January 2023

Strictly-Orthodox girls in London have been warned by religious authorities to stay away from a women-only concert being performed by an Orthodox Jewish female singer because it may cause “spiritual harm”.

The row, involving several Charedi girls’ schools and the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC) umbrella group, centres on the singer Bracha Jaffe, a New York nurse and mother-of-five.

She is due to play in concert alongside fellow singer Chaya Kogan as well as “child sensation” Esther Krohn at Hackney Empire on 15 January, an event for which tickets had sold out by last week.

However, in a statement issued by email and posted to synagogue noticeboards, the UOHC said it “endorses and supports the decision” of Charedi girls’ schools such as Beis Yaakov Grammar School for ban girls from attending the concert.

Referring to “the concert for ladies and girls”, the UOHC said it “may cause spiritual harm in Ruchniyus and Hashkofo CV and one should therefore not participate in such an event”.

A community source said: “Many women are selling their tickets because of this [edict]… People are concerned that they won’t be accepted to the secondary school if they are spotted at the concert, despite their own disagreement with the ban. They feel they have to follow authority for their children’s education.”

In response, Jaffe said: “Our girls need healthy kosher music, healthy kosher entertainment that will bring them closer to God. I want to be a good example to our girls. I care about the way I present myself. I only want to be a positive role model.”

In a video message posted online, she said she had been “greatly saddened” by the furore but urged those who still want to attend to “join me on January 15th”, adding: “We’ll sing, we’ll dance, we’ll have an emotional and spiritual connection.”

Well-known to religious Jewish communities around the world, Jaffe, 33, grew up in a cantorial family and performs across the US and Europe. She covers her hair and sings only to women, with all-female bands, and even makes her social media accounts available only to women.

Following the distribution of the UOHC statement and a subsequent communal backlash, Orthodox media reported that a co-signatory of the letter was seen ripping down copies from shul boards, although this cannot be independently verified.

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