Yesterday I received this letter from Gilad Stern and wanted to share it with you all.
Warm Regards Rabbi Julia Margolis
Hello friends, Gilad here; I wanted to say some things that are important to me: We are getting approaches from a range of sources regarding two matters: the court case and a possible settlement; and the proposed colloquium. These are approaches in the form of extending feelers, not a formal approach. People call and sound me out about talking to the Board, about what a possible solution could look like.
Here’s what I say:
I won’t talk to intermediaries. If the Board wants to talk, my phone number is known to them. My email too. No intermediaries needed. The Board has never spoken to me since we filed papers. Ever. Not once. That’s despite their professing to being open to talking. Just saying.
I will talk to the Board anytime they call, if they ever do, as long as the banning order on Rabbi Julia Margolis has been lifted, and she is invited to re-take her seat on the Board of Deputies in Johannesburg. I tell people that Rabbi Margolis was anxious about joining my court action, for months, saying that if she signed up, she might be booted off the Johannesburg Board, and that she wanted to stay on the Board so as to keep the lines of communication between communities open. Guess what? She didn’t sign in her own name, helped SACRED to sign instead, and still got booted off the Board because she is Head of SACRED! So I am not talking settlement while the banning order is still on Rabbi Julia Margolis. She stood with me and I stand with her. She should not be doubly muzzled: in singing; and in speaking her mind. Stop punishing and muzzling women, I say. If the Chief Rabbi can write to every Jewish home with comments about a woman’s singing voice being the same as her unclothed body, and not lose his job, then Rabbi Julia should be able to oppose the Board’s view, and still have a place at the table to express her views. This is not North Korea. If Rabbi Liebenberg in Cape Town can write about women’s “promiscuity of the mouth”, and still keep his day job, Rabbi Julia can stand up for equality and keep her place on the Board. They need to reinstate her before talking settlement. But they haven’t called me – ever – and may never call. They seem bok for a court battle.
A colloquium must be fair and independent. The Board can’t be player and referee. It may want to be, but it’s a party to a court action. A colloquium can’t be rigged so as to publish a “constructed consensus” afterwards. The zealots will have the loudest voice. The person who publishes the report after the colloquium holds all the power. A colloquium shouldn’t take place with a banning order still in place on Rabbi Julia Margolis.
Finally, I am keen to settle. I don’t want to go to court. I don’t like this battle, hate being called “a traitor”, and wish life could return to normal. The key to settlement is simple: no discrimination. That’s it. I am not a choral agent, and don’t have a passion for singing, women or men. I abhor discrimination on a senseless basis, such as race or gender. If a woman sings, even 30 seconds, we can all get on with our lives.