The Challenges (And Opportunities) Facing Female Jewish Bands

Guest post by Emilia Cataldo, the musician behind Nehedar.  Originally posted on her Tumblr.

Image credit: The Hester.

It’s better to be on the outside looking in, than the inside looking out, crooned Perl Wolfe during one of my favorite tracks from Bulletproof Stockings set at their Tu B’Av party at Cool Pony Crown Heights. Like all Bulletproof Stockings shows, only women were permitted to be in the audience. Also performing that night were Nehedar (me) and Rivka Eilfort.

I spoke briefly with a reporter from Haaretz who said she was writing a piece about the “all women’s rock scene” to which I quipped “you mean outside of this room?” We had a laugh and then discovered many connections, the reporter had been an arts fellow at Drisha in ‘09 and I was starting the fellowship in the fall.

The biggest surprise of the night was that the turnout wasn’t as great as they deserved given recent glowing press in publications as notable and far reaching as the NY Times, The Times of Israel, The Wall Street Journal and others. When I think about what BPS is trying to do, though, it doesn’t seem odd that audiences can be difficult to maintain. Even in the world of mixed gender performances where I live and work, it is notoriously difficult these days to scare up an audience. If your target audience is a young married parent to young kids, the prospect of getting that woman out of the house to an event that is essentially “girls night out.” gets that much tougher. In the mixed gender world, music is often the setting for a date, or a casual hang out with friends. That can’t happen when any male brothers, friends or spouses have to be left behind.

The music itself was transportive. BPS shines when they rock on signature songs like “Frigid City” and my new favorite “Homeland-Call-Stomp.” Elisheva Maister played her cello masterfully and Dalia Shusterman held down a confident, rock beat that is the true backbone to Wolfe’s ardent bare soul offerings. Good music from the orthodox world is rare and therefore quite exceptional when it happens. I hope that people are aware, whether they are lucky enough to catch a show or not, that this band is notable because they are that good. They do have a “catchy” publicity story to go with their package, but the music comes first.

Most people won’t realize how much work goes into an effort such as this. BPS is not able to go book a space at any local venue like I can. Every show that they do has to be specially planned to be a women’s only event. That means that whatever business hosts them has to do the mental arithmetic to decide whether this event can happen, and once BPS books for themselves, they would then extend opening slots to other female musicians in order to round out the event.

Just like when “Bridesmaids” came out and feminist bloggers begged women to buy tickets; Women’s stories are underrepresented, the narrative says, and if we show that we will come out and buy those tickets, they’ll know that they should keep making women’s stories.

I certainly hope that this scene continues to build, and attract more talent and inspire more women to come out of the woodwork and contribute to the scene, whether as filmmakers, photographers, or as more musicians – but most importantly as audiences. If people come out of the woodwork to help planning the logistics all the better. If anyone feels inspired to put together an event for BPS and these other female acts, they will be a part of something big and important and positive. And it’s important to recognize that in order to be a part of a good scene at the base, you have to be willing to dedicate your time without needing a payoff. Of course if it happens that’s great, but scene building is a passion first. That is something that musicians get used to pretty quickly and either take or leave: we’re not in it for the money.

I found the most fascinating part of what BPS is able to achieve, is that being in a women’s only space feels like a privilege for once, instead of a burden or a chore. Many of Bulletproof Stockings’ fans couldn’t even get in as writer/performer Matthue Roth lamented when BPS played his family speakeasy “The Hester”, but he was unable to see the band he described as his “favorite.”

Riv Eilfort came on third, after BPS and presented a very stylistic and savvy approach to songcraft and vocal style which worked beautifully on songs like “Back To You.” Her song “My Ultimate Role” speaks very honestly about her desire to find a life partner, a role that – while important to society at large, looms far larger in an orthodox religious sect. With Eilfort’s position as a young female singer making a name for herself, I certainly hope that the orthodox world can appreciate her approach to her art, and that it won’t count as a strike against her in any way. There is, after all, an idea that women performing is a rebellious act. This is not true from a letter of the law perspective, as there is no law preventing women from pursuing the arts, especially if they keep certain aspects separate from males, but there does exist inherent in the culture’s obsession with female modesty, the sense that women pursuing these kinds of public roles is immodest. I can best explain this by relating the story of when BPS was covered in a Crown Heights online publication. There should be nothing controversial about them, as they are going above and beyond the letter of the law by not admitting men to their concerts, but the comment section did contain some harsh judgements on these women’s character based on the fact that they create and share their original music.

For my set, while I did edit song choices for the all female audience and solo performance, I sang my usual honest, non Jewish themed subject matter such as a song about my brother’s experiences in Afghanistan. It could be argued, that by inviting me, and my secular (though mystically inspired) music to perform, that BPS is acknowledging that this isn’t a “religious” space, per se, but it is a space for women. They have said that they don’t want to be limited to a Jewish audience, but would be fine with half the population of the world as fans.

I’ve performed in all women environments, such as the ATARA women’s conference, but I rarely find myself in an all women’s environment where I make sense. And a big part of the beauty of the overall BPS presence is that they are able to do that. They functioned not only as event creators and headliners at the event, but as a bridge between the show opener (secular) and closer (religious). Which takes me back to the lyric “It’s better to be on the outside looking in than the inside looking out.” I think this speaks to the men, like writer Yosef Needleman-Ruiz who wanted to be at the event so much that he worked the door just to be close, and Roth, but it also speaks to the strength of the performers and audience alike who, while all different, are choosing orthodoxy (I am modern orthodox, but perform original, non religious music) for all it’s benefits and drawbacks, we are not looking out. We are proud to be in a culture that promotes female only spaces. (Interestingly, I think that an all female space could seem more controversial in mainstream society, but in Jewish orthodox culture, men only spaces and activities are commonplace, so the occasional all women’s event, while logistically difficult, makes perfect sense.) As long as BPS keep doing their thing and finding the energy to create these spaces, I will be more than happy to occupy the inside. I won’t look out. After graduating from Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, and spending time in Israel studying, I can attest that women’s only spaces aren’t so rare in the orthodox world, but ones that I want to be in are.


79 responses to “The Challenges (And Opportunities) Facing Female Jewish Bands”

  1. Malka Hellinger Forshner Avatar
    Malka Hellinger Forshner

    You are all a huge inspiration for me (Esther Freeman, Rus Devorah Wallen, and others as well) With a degree in fashion design from Fashion Institute of Technology, and more than 20 years of doing school production costumes (Bais Rivka HS, Lubavitch Educational Center, Miami, and Ft Myers, Florida) I feel it’s the time to do more, much more…….keep up the great work!

  2. Rivki Silver Avatar
    Rivki Silver

    I would love to collaborate with you, Emilia! I totally know what you mean about not making sense. I don’t really do the singer-songwriter thing, I am more instrumental and jazz-influenced, and I’m always nervous that the music I really want to play won’t go over well with frum audiences. It’s a little abstract, and so I usually cater to what I think the audience wants.

    But I’m hoping to be able to do more of what I love and see if there’s a space for it. I’m not limited to playing in front of women (what with the no singing), but I like the feeling of the all-women’s space. We’ll see if there’s room in Bmore for me, and if not, I guess I can always drive up to NYC.

  3. fear of god Avatar

    I want to express my gratitude for your kindness supporting all those that absolutely need help with this content. Your personal commitment to getting the message up and down has been quite significant and has frequently made people much like me to reach their goals. Your entire important guideline entails a lot to me and substantially more to my office workers. Warm regards; from each one of us.

  4. golden goose store Avatar

    Can I simply say what a relief to find somebody who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how you can carry a difficulty to light and make it important. More folks need to read this and understand this aspect of the story. I cant believe youre no more standard since you undoubtedly have the gift.

  5. bape Avatar

    I enjoy you because of your own hard work on this web page. Kim really loves carrying out investigations and it’s easy to understand why. I notice all about the powerful form you give valuable techniques by means of this blog and boost participation from some others about this area plus our favorite child has been becoming educated a lot. Take advantage of the rest of the new year. You’re doing a first class job.

  6. kyrie irving shoes Avatar

    I enjoy you because of your own labor on this website. My daughter really loves conducting investigation and it’s really easy to understand why. Many of us notice all regarding the dynamic ways you deliver priceless strategies via this website and even attract response from some others on that idea so our own child is now discovering a lot. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the year. You have been carrying out a brilliant job.

  7. supreme Avatar

    I have to voice my respect for your generosity giving support to folks who should have guidance on this theme. Your personal dedication to passing the message around was unbelievably insightful and have in most cases permitted men and women like me to arrive at their goals. Your warm and friendly information indicates much a person like me and substantially more to my office workers. Warm regards; from all of us.

  8. yeezy wave runner 700 Avatar

    I would like to show some appreciation to this writer just for bailing me out of this instance. As a result of exploring throughout the the net and meeting views that were not helpful, I assumed my entire life was over. Existing without the presence of solutions to the difficulties you’ve sorted out all through your entire post is a serious case, as well as those that might have badly damaged my entire career if I had not encountered your blog post. That expertise and kindness in taking care of almost everything was excellent. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had not come upon such a solution like this. I can at this time look forward to my future. Thanks a lot very much for this high quality and result oriented guide. I will not be reluctant to suggest your blog post to any individual who needs to have assistance about this subject matter.

  9. golden goose Avatar

    Thank you for each of your work on this web page. My daughter take interest in working on investigation and it’s really obvious why. All of us hear all relating to the lively method you provide vital tactics via this website and therefore recommend contribution from other individuals on this point so our favorite simple princess is becoming educated a lot of things. Have fun with the remaining portion of the year. You’re carrying out a remarkable job.

  10. golden goose sale womens Avatar

    Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thanks Nonetheless I’m experiencing challenge with ur rss . Don抰 know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting an identical rss downside? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

  11. off white Avatar

    I must express my appreciation to this writer for bailing me out of such a trouble. Right after checking through the the net and getting basics that were not beneficial, I assumed my entire life was over. Existing without the presence of approaches to the problems you have fixed by way of the website is a serious case, as well as the kind which may have in a negative way damaged my career if I had not discovered the website. Your own personal capability and kindness in dealing with almost everything was excellent. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not come across such a subject like this. I can also at this time look forward to my future. Thanks a lot very much for the skilled and result oriented guide. I won’t think twice to propose your web site to anybody who would like guidelines on this issue.

  12. kd 15 Avatar

    My husband and i ended up being lucky when Ervin could finish up his inquiry out of the precious recommendations he received through the weblog. It’s not at all simplistic to just be freely giving strategies which often many people may have been selling. We really keep in mind we have the blog owner to thank for this. The most important explanations you’ve made, the straightforward web site menu, the relationships your site give support to foster – it’s many exceptional, and it’s helping our son and us consider that that idea is interesting, which is certainly particularly fundamental. Thank you for the whole thing!

  13. bapesta Avatar

    I intended to compose you this very little remark to finally give thanks yet again for these pretty tricks you’ve documented above. This has been certainly remarkably open-handed of you in giving unhampered precisely what most people would have offered as an e-book in making some cash for their own end, specifically seeing that you could have done it in the event you decided. These principles as well served like the fantastic way to know that some people have the same passion similar to mine to know many more in terms of this problem. I think there are several more fun opportunities up front for folks who see your blog.

  14. jordan 4 Avatar

    I as well as my buddies were reviewing the best advice from the blog then immediately I had a terrible feeling I never expressed respect to the web blog owner for those secrets. Those ladies were definitely as a result stimulated to read all of them and have in effect undoubtedly been making the most of them. Appreciate your actually being very accommodating as well as for considering some superb ideas millions of individuals are really wanting to understand about. My very own sincere regret for not expressing gratitude to you earlier.

  15. kd 14 Avatar

    Thank you so much for giving everyone an exceptionally pleasant chance to discover important secrets from this website. It can be so pleasurable and as well , full of fun for me and my office colleagues to visit your web site on the least thrice a week to read through the latest stuff you have. And of course, I am also at all times fulfilled with all the beautiful tricks you give. Certain two points in this posting are easily the most impressive we have ever had.

  16. golden goose sneakers sale Avatar

    You must participate in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will suggest this website!

  17. wholesale asian grocery distributor australia Avatar

    This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which
    helped me. Cheers!

  18. bơM tăng áp Mini Avatar

    I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself?
    Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see
    a great blog like this one nowadays.

  19. bape Avatar

    There’s noticeably a bundle to know about this. I assume you made sure good points in features also.

  20. golden goose sliders Avatar

    I would like to express my appreciation to you for bailing me out of such a situation. As a result of checking throughout the the net and obtaining solutions which are not productive, I figured my life was done. Living without the strategies to the issues you’ve resolved as a result of the site is a crucial case, and ones that would have in a negative way affected my career if I hadn’t encountered the website. Your good ability and kindness in dealing with every item was tremendous. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a point like this. I am able to at this time relish my future. Thank you so much for the high quality and results-oriented guide. I will not be reluctant to propose the website to any individual who will need guidelines on this issue.

  21. off white clothing Avatar

    Your home is valueble for me. Thanks!?

  22. bapesta shoes Avatar

    Can I simply say what a relief to search out somebody who really knows what theyre speaking about on the internet. You positively know learn how to bring an issue to light and make it important. Extra folks need to learn this and perceive this side of the story. I cant consider youre no more well-liked since you undoubtedly have the gift.

  23. curry 9 Avatar

    There are some attention-grabbing points in time in this article but I don抰 know if I see all of them heart to heart. There’s some validity but I’ll take maintain opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as nicely

  24. supreme new york Avatar

    you have got an awesome blog right here! would you prefer to make some invite posts on my blog?

  25. palm angels outlet Avatar

    There are actually loads of particulars like that to take into consideration. That is a great level to bring up. I provide the ideas above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up the place a very powerful thing will probably be working in trustworthy good faith. I don?t know if finest practices have emerged around issues like that, however I’m certain that your job is clearly recognized as a good game. Both boys and girls feel the affect of only a second抯 pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

  26. bape hoodie Avatar

    Would you be serious about exchanging links?

  27. g7 cà phê Avatar

    We are a gaggle of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community.
    Your website offered us with valuable info to work on. You have performed an impressive process and our whole group will probably be thankful to you.

  28. Omer Avatar

    I’m pretty pleased to discover this website. I want to to thank
    you for your time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely really liked every bit of it and i also have you book-marked to see
    new things in your web site.

  29. comprar dazolin en línea en Bogotá Avatar

    You actually make it appear so easy together with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually
    one thing that I think I’d never understand. It seems too complex and
    extremely huge for me. I am taking a look ahead in your subsequent
    submit, I will try to get the hold of it!

  30. mupirocin 2% zonder recept in Amsterdam Avatar

    It’s fantastic that you are getting thoughts from this article as well as from our dialogue made at this time.

  31. vente en ligne de triamcinolone Avatar

    I’ve been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or weblog posts on this kind of space
    . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this
    site. Studying this info So i am happy to
    exhibit that I’ve a very just right uncanny feeling I came upon exactly what I needed.
    I most definitely will make sure to do not fail to remember this website and give it a glance regularly.

  32. Nước xả downy nào thơm nhất Avatar

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my website thus i came to “return the favor”.I am trying to find things to improve my site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  33. Adquiere sominex en Europa Avatar

    I’m extremely pleased to find this site. I want to to thank you for ones
    time for this fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every little bit of it and
    i also have you saved to fav to see new stuff
    on your blog.

  34. Kauf von Medikamenten in Spanien Avatar

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew
    of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.

    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was
    hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like
    this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly
    enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your
    new updates.

  35. alli prescrit sur ordonnance Avatar

    Fabulous, what a weblog it is! This weblog gives helpful facts to us,
    keep it up.

  36. Preis von Medikamenten ohne Rezept Avatar

    Good day! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.

    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog
    article or vice-versa? My website addresses a lot of the same subjects as yours
    and I think we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free
    to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Fantastic blog by the way!

  37. dónde encontrar arcoxia en Buenos Aires Avatar

    Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you ever been running a blog for?
    you make blogging glance easy. The total look of your website
    is fantastic, let alone the content material!

  38. capecitabina vrij verkrijgbaar in Bolivia Avatar

    My programmer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs. But he’s tryiong none the less.
    I’ve been using Movable-type on a variety of websites for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform.
    I have heard great things about Is there a way I
    can import all my wordpress posts into it? Any help would be greatly

  39. Realiza una compra de procardia en línea Avatar

    Great weblog here! Additionally your web site
    rather a lot up very fast! What host are you the usage of?
    Can I am getting your associate link for your host?
    I want my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  40. Belgien Avatar

    A person necessarily lend a hand to make seriously
    articles I might state. That is the very first time I frequented your
    web page and so far? I amazed with the research you made to create this actual submit amazing.
    Magnificent activity!

  41. conjugated estrogens en venta en Colombia Avatar

    Magnificent goods from you, man. I have keep in mind your stuff prior to and you’re simply too wonderful.
    I really like what you have received here, really like what you’re stating and the best way wherein you assert it.
    You are making it entertaining and you still take care of to stay
    it smart. I can not wait to read much more from
    you. This is actually a great web site.

  42. mentax rezeptfrei erhältlich in Wien Avatar

    Excellent article. I absolutely appreciate this website.

    Keep writing!

  43. cycrin kopen in Nederland zonder problemen Avatar

    Hi there all, here every one is sharing these know-how, thus it’s pleasant to read this
    webpage, and I used to visit this website daily.

  44. kopen lyclear in Duitsland Avatar

    Your style is so unique compared to other people I have read stuff from.

    Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this

  45. amen in vendita nelle farmacie di Bologna Avatar

    Hey! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I
    genuinely enjoy reading through your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects?

    Thank you!

  46. acillin è in vendita senza prescrizione in Italia Avatar

    I visited many websites but the audio quality
    for audio songs current at this web page is truly superb.

  47. où acheter du cotrimoxazole sans ordonnance en France Avatar

    Hi, I do think this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I
    will return yet again since i have book marked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you
    be rich and continue to guide other people.

  48. acheter clenbuterol en Espagne en ligne Avatar

    Generally I do not learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this
    write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do so! Your
    writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice post.

  49. cafergot kopen in België zonder moeite Avatar

    It’s in fact very difficult in this busy life to listen news on Television, therefore I only use
    world wide web for that purpose, and obtain the latest news.

  50. Avatar

    CPU-Z 2.07 download

  51. kaufe provera in Italien ohne ärztliche Verschreibung in Belgien Avatar

    Hi there this is kind of of off topic but I was
    wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have
    to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog
    soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  52. Compra aristocort 4 mg de la marca Mylan Avatar

    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added
    I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from
    that service? Thanks a lot!

  53. achat de anticol en ligne Avatar

    Thank you for some other informative site. The place else may I get that type of info written in such an ideal
    manner? I have a undertaking that I’m just now operating on, and I’ve been at
    the glance out for such info.

  54. Können Medikamente ohne ärztliche Verschreibung erhalten werden? Avatar

    I always emailed this website post page to all my friends, as if like to read it
    afterward my friends will too.

  55. Koop trazodone online zonder recept in Den Haag Avatar

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it,
    you’re a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back down the road.
    I want to encourage you to continue your great work, have a
    nice holiday weekend!

  56. comprar synthroid en Ecuador de forma legal Avatar

    Someone essentially help to make significantly articles I might state.

    That is the very first time I frequented your web page
    and up to now? I surprised with the analysis you made to create this actual submit amazing.
    Wonderful process!

  57. provera disponible en ligne en France Avatar

    I think this is among the most important info for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on some general things, The web site
    style is ideal, the articles is really nice : D.
    Good job, cheers

  58. comprar butenafine 1% en México legalmente Avatar

    Useful info. Lucky me I found your website unintentionally, and I am shocked why
    this coincidence did not came about in advance! I bookmarked

  59. curacne disponible en farmacias de Lima Avatar

    I blog frequently and I seriously thank you for your information. The
    article has really peaked my interest. I’m going
    to take a note of your website and keep checking for new information about once per week.
    I subscribed to your RSS feed too.

  60. gestapuran disponibile senza prescrizione a Padova Avatar

    Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this site.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s tough to get
    that “perfect balance” between usability and visual
    appearance. I must say that you’ve done a awesome job with this.
    Also, the blog loads very fast for me on Safari.
    Superb Blog!

  61. waar cipro kopen zonder voorschrift in Frankrijk Avatar

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and
    I’m impressed! Very useful information specially the last part :
    ) I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this particular information for a
    long time. Thank you and good luck.

  62. Realiza la compra de dipyridamole en línea en Bolivia Avatar

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my site so i came to “return the favor”.I am
    attempting to find things to improve my web site!I
    suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  63. digoxin online zonder voorschrift in Rotterdam Avatar

    Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this
    site before but after browsing through some
    of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely
    glad I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking
    back often!

  64. Caitlyn Avatar

    Now I am going to do my breakfast, afterward having my breakfast coming again to read further

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *