Kol Isha—the voice of a woman. In many Orthodox circles, it is forbidden to hear the voice of a woman singing publicly.
I was not expecting concerns around kol isha to come up in the egalitarian community where I have been blessed to serve a congregation for 18 years. Yet when a community-wide event was being planned, it was pointed out that if I were to sing the Orthodox community would not be able to be a sponsor of the event.
I have been a cantor over 40 years—since the age of 19. I’m a fourth-generation cantor whose family was almost completely destroyed in the Holocaust.
You’re really going to tell me I can’t sing in public?
A follower was surprised I was so upset, “It’s not about you, it’s not about your voice.”
You’re right. It’s about the voice of every woman who wants to sing in public.