Wow! What a week it has been!
SACRED and our co-applicants reached an out of court settlement in the Equality Court case, against the Board of Deputies. The Board of Deputies gave assurance that it would end its ban on “women’s voices” and as such restructure future ceremonies so as not to exclude a woman signing solo. They will no longer silence women’s voices on the grounds that; a woman’s voice is sexually provocative and akin to nakedness.
I feel as a Progressive thinking community (being a minority in so called Orthodox environment) we should be glad to know that all future Board of Deputies ceremonies and events will be infused with human rights, where all are equal and none of our participants are treated as second class Jews. Our agreement has eradicated the atrocious and embarrassing situation of there being discrimination at official Holocaust memorials.
It is our hope that due to this revival of the traditional, pre-2005 Yom HaShoah format; our youth, women and others who were alienated from the Memorial between 2005-2016, will once again feel able to participate in a Memorial which reflects their values and the lessons of the Shoah.
As a negotiated agreement SACRED has had to compromise. We are aware that this will mean there are supporters of ours who will not be entirely satisfied with the agreement. These reservations also weighed on our minds. We find comfort in the fact that SACRED has consistently advocated for a negotiated settlement and sincerely believe that our excellent negotiators have achieved the best possible negotiated outcome. The only way in which it could possibly be bettered, was by going to court, an option almost universally opposed.
On behalf of SACRED I would like to extend our sincere gratitude to fellow applicants, and to all of those who have so generously given their time and support to us in this struggle. There were some difficult times on the way to achieving this settlement but your rock solid support and encouragement ensured that we were never alone.
Wishing you all a peaceful and warm weekend.
Rabbi Julia Margolis
SAAPR Press Statement
The South African Association of Progressive Rabbis (SAAPR) welcomes the resolution of the Board to restore women singing to the Yom Hashoa ceremony. We are gratified that our proposal of separating the ceremony into two parts has been accepted by the broader community. This puts behind us the past decade of exclusion and we look forward to hearing that the same compromise will be accepted at the Johannesburg ceremony. We commend our colleague, Rabbi Julia Margolis for leading SACRED’s battle to have women reinstated on to the program, and will continue to support all efforts to recognize the equivalent role of men and women in leading the South African Jewish community.