Israeli President Shimon Peres made history when he addressed the Masorti movement’s 35th anniversary gala on January 5, 2012. Peres, the first Israeli president to appear publicly with Masorti representatives, praised the movement’s contributions to Israel and its “commitment to humanism, peace, human rights and the rights of citizens.” After listening to Shirat Machar, the movement’s youth performing troupe, the president said, “I came here this evening to hear women singing.” Shirat Machar (Tomorrow’s Song) is the only religious movement-sponsored co-ed singing group in Israel. Peres’ comment was a pointed reference to the dispute that had raged across the country about whether Orthodox soldiers who believe that Jewish law does not allow them to listen to women sing should be allowed to walk out of official functions. The government ruled that the men must stay, but this dispute, among many others affecting the status of women, smolders on.
President Peres said that Masorti has “quietly, systematically and guided by a love of Israel…succeeded in establishing itself in Israel, building a large number of communities and synagogues throughout the country, and winning hearts.”