The World of Female Haredi Singers and Artists

April 2, 2024 | Lauren Hakimi
About the author:

To many Orthodox Jews, it is forbidden for men to listen to women sing, and in the most rigid circles any sort of public performance by a woman is frowned upon. In the past few years, however, it has been common for female haredi actors and musicians to put on plays, concerts, and the like for audiences made up of women alone. The anthropologist Jessica Roda explores this phenomenon in a recent book. Lauren Hakimi writes in her review:

Roda, who grew up in a secular environment in French Guiana in South America, became personally interested in haredi life in 2015 when the deaths of two loved ones pushed her to explore her religiosity. Living in Montreal at the time, she joined a group that was dedicated to supporting people who’d left the community. She also taught anthropology to haredi women. She started interviewing artists who’d left the community, and from there, met people who were still part of it, in both Montreal and New York City.

Roda’s book chronicles a recent historical development. It used to be that haredi female singing and dancing was mostly relegated to the world of girls’ schools and summer camps. Now, it’s become a viable career option. Roda attributes this cultural development to several factors: the advent of a haredi content and entertainment industry, social media, and an increasing cultural emphasis on self-care and government programs that fund it. . . . The book also shines a light on the blurry boundaries between people who are part of the community and those who have left.

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