Wednesday, December 06, 2017
An Orthodox Jewish singer blindfolded himself with black duct tape to avoid seeing female fans in the audience dancing close to the stage.
New-York born Israeli singer-songwriter Yonatan Razel was photographed with the tape plastered across his eyes while singing and playing the keyboard at his women-only concert in Jerusalem.
Orthodox Jewish law forbids men from watching women dance in case it arouses them.
A statement from the 44-year-old singer's representatives confirmed he covered his eyes on religious grounds.
"Yonatan Razel's face was uncovered for the entire performance. The part in which he is seen with his eyes covered happened for mere minutes, when women formed dance circles at the foot of the stage.
"This was his personal decision so as not to remain with uncovered eyes in front of the dancing women. Afterwards he removed the covering and continued to perform."
An award-winning singer, Razel is married and lives in Jerusalem with his wife, three daughters and a son.
His "bizarre" behaviour prompted criticism on social media.
Na'amat, an Israeli women's organization, fired off a Facebook post, demanding to know: "How far will this supposed religious extremism go?
"Who are the rabbis that encourage such bizarre behaviour?"
The organizers of the Tzama Hasidic music festival, which Razel's concert was part of, said in a statement: "Razel has performed regularly before women for years, and respects them. And no other significance should be attributed to his actions."
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbis have come under fire for attempting to prevent women from going to university, claiming their education is "against the Torah".
Ultra-Orthodox Jews follow a pre-enlightenment interpretation of traditional Judaism and discourage interaction with the modern or secular world. Men wear 19th century Eastern European dress including long black coats and black hats, while married women must dress modestly and cover their hair.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews estimates that there are around 30,000 strictly Orthodox Jews living in the UK, of which Satmar is the largest sect.
It emerged last year that some ultra-Orthodox Jews in north London had banned women from driving on the grounds that it was immodest for them to do so, prompting a furious backlash that this was similar to Shariah law in Saudi Arabia.
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