Breaking boundaries at Jewish ceremony

Caely-Jo Levy sings at the holocaust memorial service held at the Jewish cemetary in Pinelands. Paper butterflies were hung by guests with messages of peace and those lost.

Tasked with being the first woman in the past 10 years allowed to sing solo at this year’s Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Commemoration), Caely-Jo Levy fought back the tears during her performance because of the significance of the song.

Her performance at the Jewish Cemetery in Pinelands on Sunday April 23 follows after a section of the Jewish community approached the Equality Court last year about the law forbidding Jewish women from singing publicly.

After negotiations, a dual model was adopted and Ms Levy said through her performance she was honouring her religion, heritage and community.

“I’m proud of the deep connections of this song, which if you understand it gives you a deeper connection to our ancestors and especially those who lost their lives.

“What should it matter who sings the song? The sister of the composer of Mir lebn eybik (We Will Endure) originally performed it in the ghettos,” added Ms Levy.

She noticed Orthodox Jewish community members in the audience, which warmed her heart, as she hopes that eventually the entire community will come to accept this change.

The opening ceremony included a song by the Herzlia High School choir and a pupil recited I never saw another butterfly by Pavel Friedman, who was incarcerated at Theresienstadt and later killed at Auschwitz.

In remembrance, family members hung paper butterflies on a string line to symbolise the number of children who perished in the Holocaust. The traditional ceremony followed which included the entire Jewish community. Wreaths were placed for the six million lives lost in the catastrophe.

– Cape Times