November 18, 2013, New York City – Ofir Ben Shitrit, the 18-year-old Israeli singing sensation whose participation in The Voice led to her suspension from her religious school, will be performing at the upcoming international conference of JOFA, The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance on December 7 at John Jay College.
Ben Shitrit, whose second-place win in the reality show competition in Israel – helped by her unlikely mentor, secularist superstar Aviv Gefen – is a rising star in Israel and has become a role model for many religious women aspiring for artistic expression amid growing anti-women backlash in the Orthodox community. Her suspension from school, brought about by pressure from other religious school parents, rattled the religious community as well as Ben Shitrit’s many fans, and at the same time raised awareness about the increasing threat to women’s basic freedoms emerging from certain corners of Orthodoxy. “We are thrilled to be able to bring Ofir to sing at the JOFA Conference,” said conference coordinator Bat Sheva Marcus. “The many fans she has among JOFA members are very excited to listen to her beautiful voice and give her the support that she deserves.” Ben Shitrit will be part of an enticing menu of Saturday night musical performances, including “Girls in trouble”, an indie band with midrashic themes, and a cappella singing groups Smadar from Barnard and Tizmoret from Queens College, as well as a teen poetry slam and Peninnah Schram’s story-telling. The conference will continue on Sunday December 8 with a broad range of cutting edge discussions and lectures about issues pertaining to gender issues and the status of women in religion, such as slut-shaming, LGBT in Orthodoxy, raising feminist boys, new rituals for ritual immersion, and more.
“JOFA is dedicated to ensuring that religious women like Ofir Ben Shitrit have all doors open to them for self-expression and personal development, “ said JOFA Executive Director Elana Sztokman. “When women thrive, the entire Jewish community thrives.” The 8th International JOFA Conference is set to take place on December 7-8 at John Jay College. Details can be found on the JOFA website www.jofa.org.