Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hey Rabbi (Jewlicious) Yonah...Where the women at???

Yet again, I look on the roster of a Jewish music festival and find women grossly underrepresented.

the Jewilicious Festival

I have reached out to Rabbi Yonah numerous times to ask about the inclusion of women as headliners - and have had not one response from him.
If Jewlicious is a pluralistic Jewish event, then women should be represented in the HEADLINERS!
If the issue is Kol Isha (not wanting to hear women's voices for fear that men's thoughts will turn to sexual content and not be focused on prayer) - then label it that and call the festival an ORTHODOX gathering. Don't hide the agenda behind a seemingly pluralistic event.

Are these words from the website lies?
Jewlicious is the most inclusive and dynamic experience for young Jews in the USA. It is not discriminatory against anyone based on religious philosophy, race, sexual orientation, political views or the like

Women are also grossly underrepresented in the upcoming TribeFest (Jewish Federations of North America) gathering as well - in terms of the musical lineup. Limmud seems to be the only org worldwide that is giving women their fair share of the stage.

But sadly, these are not the only examples...and it's not my goal to indemnify Jewish organizations, as I'm part of the system and solutions, not an outsider - but I've been watching this for years.

We are cheating the Jewish community from hearing women's musical contributions to Jewish culture.
How long must we fight this uphill battle that is so OUTDATED - I mean, COME ON ALREADY!

The time has come for people to wake up - and look beyond their noses to find the myriad women creating Jewish cultural musical work out there who are fantastic, community-focused, gifted, production worthy talent.

What will it take?

Artists like Chana Rothman and myself are out there, as watchwomen - keeping track, calling attention, speaking out, trying in any way we can to draw attention to this issue - and we're moving things inches. How do we move things more dramatically, move the mountain??

Do we really need a Women's Music Production Company? Do we need a Women's Music Label as Sarah Aroeste represented our idea in her Forward article?
Or will the Jewish Community wake up and start actively genderbalancing the stage????

Frustrated, saddened, but NOT GIVING UP!

Welcoming comments, ideas, strategies and PLATFORMS!



Anonymous said...

GREAT question, Naomi: How do we move a mountain? You are a shining light and I hope inches turn to feet, turn to miles, turn to minds.

Jewlicious said...

Hi Naomi,
Let me tell you how Jewlicious functions - we have a music committee and they decide who plays and who doesn't. Neither Rabbi Yonah nor myself make those decisions and we have been surprised on more than one occasion to have an artist we wanted to perform be not accepted by the committee. That having been said, we've had the following female artists and bands with female singers perform: The Hoodios, The Makkabbees, Jewdysee, Rinat Gutman, Electro Morocco, Basya Schechter, Chana Rothman, Sarah Nadav, Golem, Leerone, Inbar Bakal, Yael Meyer - even SoCalled came with a female Gospel singer. We also have Jewish female comedians who would not be considered exactly Orthodox.

Kol Isha is not an issue. Anyone offended or unduly turned on by a female voice can walk out, or not attend. Besides, many people hold that if the sound is transmitted via microphone, it isn't considered kol isha.

I seriously challenge you to find a more pluralistic event geared towards Jewish students and young adults than Jewlicious. If we had the money I would have loved to bring in artists like Terry Poison, Karolina, Carusella, Regina Spektor and fellow ROIers The Carsitters etc. etc. But we don't have endless resources sadly and every year we try to put together the best line up with the extremely limited resources that we do have.

We have a process for Festival consideration that involves going through SonicBids. That info then goes to our Music director and committee. Rabbi Yonah has very little to do with the process.

But yeah, please don't lump us in with the organized Jewish community. We're like a rag tag group of mostly volunteers who pull off this Festival every year out of thin air. We try our best, seriously we do. And we appreciate your criticism, but be fair. Diminishing our work by casting aspersions on our hard fought inclusivity and ignores the diversity of the acts we've had at the Festival.

BTW, I've seen you perform in Tel Aviv at an ROI event. I thought you were awesome for whatever that's worth. Because I don't make musical decisions :(

-David Abitbol

Anonymous said...

Just read the Jewlicious article, I am glad the lack of Jewish female vocals is questioned!