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A “voice” to bridge the sacred and secular

J-P Mauro - published on 07/13/17

Ofir Ben Shitrit overcomes criticism for the love of music.

Ofir Ben Shitrit is an Orthodox Jewish singer who became well known after appearing on the Israeli version of The Voice. She chose Aviv Geffen, a secular rock musician, as her mentor, and he guided her to win second place. Their teamwork stood as an example, she said, that people from two different worlds (the religious and secular) could work together and “build a bridge of music.”

She has faced criticism from some pockets of her community, who believe it is immodest for a woman to sing in public. For this reason, she was suspended from her school for two weeks after appearing on The Voice.

She spoke with Renee Ghert-Zand about how she lives as a musician under the Orthodox Jewish rule kol b’isha erva (“A woman’s voice is nakedness”) which prohibits women from singing in front of men:

”I am very connected to music. I’ve read some articles on the internet, and some rabbis say the issue isn’t a woman singing, but rather that a woman is standing on a stage and a lot of men are watching her and it’s a lack of modesty. So, I understand that as long as a woman is singing modestly and performing in a non-provocative way, it’s okay. I didn’t do anything wrong on the show. I dressed modestly and I performed modestly. I didn’t dance or anything like that.”

After graduating from high school, Ofir served her country in Sherut Leumi (National Service) through the Jewish television channel, Orot. The nature of her work was to “facilitate and foster dialogue and understanding between religious and secular people” through interviews and articles. Although she enjoys writing she has no intention of putting aside music.

“Wreath of Thorns” was originally a poem by acclaimed Isaeli poet, Natan Yonatan. The piece was inspired by the death of his son during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

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