Last week Barbara Streisand visited Israel. The excitement her presence creates cannot be understated. If she was only the greatest performer in a generation that would be enough of a reason to wait in line to hear her, but we all know that Barbra is much Anat Hoffmanmore than a world class singing voice. She is also one of the most important voices of conscience for issues of social justice. When she supports a cause it is wise to take notice, and we are so proud that she supports us.

While receiving an honorary doctorate at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Barbara spoke truth to power. In front of the President of Israel and many other government officials and dignitaries she expressed her shock and horror over the state of gender equality and civil liberties in Israel. She specifically mentioned IRAC’s struggle against gender segregation on buses and the illegal silencing of women on the public airwaves and in public events where orthodox men are in attendance. She also expressed support for making the Western Wall a more inclusive place and to ending the violence that has been perpetrated against women trying to legally pray there.

We assume that just because she is famous, speaking her mind is easy. But the reality is that standing up for what you believe in is never easy. Her comments are nothing short of courageous. Too often Jews in Israel and abroad are afraid to speak out against issues that are holding back Israel’s march towards equal rights for all its citizens. Unless the entire Jewish word and its supporters for pluralism also have the courage to speak truth to power we will never see change.

To quote Barbra Streisand: IRAC needs people. We need people from Israel and all corners of the globe to take a stand for a more pluralistic Israel. To honor her courage please use this form to ask ten people to join IRAC’s newsletter list so that our voice in Israel will be even stronger.

We applaud Barbra Streisand for her unwavering support for Israel and for her desire to see Israel stay true to its founding principles of equality for all.

Anat Hoffman
Executive Director, IRAC