Achinoam Nini, the recording artist better known as Noa,” was among the performers who took the stage recently at Jerusalem’s “Singing for Equality.” The gathering protested the increasing gender segregation in Israel, and the exclusion of women’s images and voices from public spaces. It was organized in all of five days, but was filled with 500 people and a stage set with colorful and elaborate posters declaring, “Good morning Israel, the time has come to wake up and get back the Israel we lost.”
Following her performance, Nini spoke with The Sisterhood:
Why I’m here: [E]verything that I’ve learned about Judaism, learning in yeshiva in the States — first in SAR Academy and then in Ramaz, where I had wonderful experiences — everything that I know to be important to Judaism is being destroyed by some radicals. They’ve interpreted the Judaism that I know and love in a way that I feel is erroneous and unintelligent, and I’m here to fight against that.
What I sang onstage: I sang three songs, one of which, “Mishaela,” is one of my older songs about a girl who looks at a desert and sees water flowing and trees growing. But actually all of this is only happening in her mind — in the eyes of her soul. I chose it because it describes the transformative powers of the human spirit, and I think only through these inner powers that we have to change our situation will we be able to actually change it.
Hundreds of people are expected tomorrow in downtown Jerusalem to listen to female singers, including Noa, in a demonstration being called “A Song for Equality: A Demonstration of Women Singing.” On display at the event, which is being organized by an Israeli group called Be Free Israel, will be a large banner of photos of American men and women holding signs that say “Women Should be Seen and Heard.”
The banner was created by the New Israel Fund, which recently launched a campaign to counter the growing disappearance of women from public view in Israel’s capital city, where increasing Haredi influence has led to women being told to sit at the backs of public buses and advertisements that show only men — even when they are for a women’s product or service. There are also increasing efforts to bar women from singing in places where there are men in attendance even in the IDF.
More than 200 photos have been submitted to the “Women Should be Seen and Heard” campaign, said Naomi Paiss, the organization’s director of communications. Sixty of the photos were hastily assembled into the banner, and Paiss says the organization hopes to display some of the of the 6-foot-long banners in a public advertising campaign.