IDF conversion course said to reject female participant because she’s a singer

Elsie Doll says staff told her that she couldn’t convert to Judaism because she performs in front of men, acknowledging that it wouldn’t be a problem if gender roles were reversed

Elsie Doll is interviewed by Channel 12 news on June 23, 2021. (Screen capture/Channel 12)
Elsie Doll is interviewed by Channel 12 news on June 23, 2021. (Screen capture/Channel 12)

An 18-year-old pop singer adopted from Ukraine when she was an infant says the IDF’s Jewish conversion course is refusing to accept her because she performs in front of men, a report said Wednesday.

While Elsie Doll was adopted by a Jewish family, she is not considered Jewish by the Orthodox-led Chief Rabbinate, which is the primary authority on religious issues in Israel. Doll, who rose to fame through her singing videos on YouTube, decided to enroll in the IDF’s Nativ conversion course earlier this year.

“In the middle of the course I sat down for a conversation with one of the teachers, and she explained to me that I probably would not be able to continue because I am a singer,” Doll told Channel 12 news in an interview.

“You’re wasting your time. The Rabbinate will not allow a singer to convert,” she recalled being told.

“It’s very hard to see your friends getting excited [about different stages of the course]… while I’m still fighting for my place,” Doll said.

Doll’s mother, Liat Copeland, told the network that she asked one of the Nativ instructors to explain the decision and was told that converting to Judaism means keeping Kosher and observing the Sabbath and that dancing in front of men is not in line with Jewish law.

Copeland pressed on whether Nativ would have taken the same position if one of its participants was a male singer. The instructor responded that this wouldn’t be problematic.

“There is no problem for a man to sing in front of women according to Jewish law. If she was a male singer, there wouldn’t be this problem,” Doll’s mother recalled being told.

Doll told Channel 12: “I know singers who are Jews, and they don’t live according to Jewish law at all, so I do not think that is a reason not to convert me.”

Doll said Nativ instructors told her that those born into the Jewish faith are allowed to choose a religious or non-religious lifestyle, but those interested in converting must abide by Orthodox Jewish law.

“It feels like I’m being punished for not being born Jewish, but my mother is Jewish, I grew up in a Jewish home, and I have lived [Judaism] all my life,” Doll said.

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