Our Lips Are Sealed

Let me say this up front. I am not whining. The purpose of this post is not to complain about something that exists for a very good reason. It’s just to give all you guys out there an understanding of what we girls deal with on an everyday basis. I’m talking about Kol Isha. Right away, all the ladies out there are nodding their heads. They know what it’s like. You guys are all clueless, because you don’t have to deal with it the way we do.

Presumably if you’re reading this blog you are a music lover. Music lovers come in all sizes, shapes and genders. Some people just like listening. Some people play. Others sing. But we all love music.

Picture this: beautifully set Shabbos table, Friday night. Everyone dressed in their Shabbos best. The silver is freshly polished. The food is amazing and Divrei Torah were inspiring. The sounds of Zemiros fill the room. It’s just magical. You can feel the kedusha in your bones as beautiful harmonies echo off the walls. Hopefully, that’s what Friday night looks like at my house. Ok, maybe I forgot to polish the silver.

Now picture this scene: same Shabbos table. Everyone looks great, both food and Divrei Torah are terrific. But there’s just one lone voice singing Zemiros. Why? Because four out of my five kids are girls. If my son invites even one friend for Shabbos, our Friday night singing marathons are doomed. My poor husband is singing Zemiros all alone because, obviously, the girls can’t join in. The boys aren’t participating because they’re at that awkward stage where they’re not comfortable singing at someone else’s table. It’s not like there’s no kedushas Shabbos in the room. But the some of the magic is gone. It’s just not the same.

And it’s not just Shabbos. It’s weddings, concerts, even shopping in your local kosher supermarket. There’s music playing, and you want to sing along, but you can’t. Because someone might hear you. It’s someone saying “how does that song go?” and you can’t tell them because there’s a man in the room. It’s hearing a song, having a great harmony pop up in your head, but you can’t sing it, because the last thing you want to do is cause a problem for that guy who’s standing within earshot.

Want to record your own music? For a guy it’s easy. Just find a studio and pull out your wallet. For a girl who’s not looking to rely on any heterim? Where I live, the only all female “studio” is some recording equipment set up on some lady’s dining room table. Want to put out a CD? Well, in case the Jewish music market wasn’t small enough, you’ve just eliminated half the Jewish music audience out there, because they’re not allowed to listen to you sing.

Let’s be realistic. We all have far bigger problems than this. And it’s not like Hakadosh Baruch Hu didn’t know what he was doing when he ossured Kol Isha. But you guys have no idea what it’s like for us.

It’s not that isn’t fair. But it certainly isn’t easy.

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