Women will be able to sing on stage at official Jewish commemorations of Yom Hashoah in South Africa after the lifting of a ban which had been in place for a number of years.
A compromise has now been reached following the launch of legal action against the ban by an equality group earlier this year.
Women singers had been stopped from performing at secular events in the Jewish community because of objections by some Orthodox members on the grounds of kol ishah — a religious prohibition against men hearing a woman sing in public.
But under a new arrangement, the Yom Hashoah event will be split into two halves with the inclusion of a woman soloist in the first, while more strictly observant Jews would feel able to join the audience for the second.
The South African Centre for Religious Equality and Diversity and two members of the Jewish community had filed proceedings against the Cape Council of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.
But they agreed a compromise in summer before a full court hearing.
Now a similar arrangement has been approved by the Board’s Gauteng region, which covers Johannesburg.
Wendy Kahn, the Board’s national director, said the Board “sought to bring about an inclusive ceremony where all members of our community would feel welcome and comfortable, and that participation of women singing would not compromise those adhering to their religious practices.”
Gilad Stern, one of the litigants, said he was “pleased it’s being resolved nationally. The issue was an awful one to start off with. Banning women’s voices at a civic ceremony so as not to inconvenience men was always preposterous.”