Israel’s Ishay Ribo scraps UK gig amid COVID, Haredi boycott

Platinum-selling singer-songwriter Ishay Ribo canceled his planned concert next month at London’s O2 Arena, in what would be the first such appearance by an Israeli musician in the 20,000-seat concert hall.

Ticket holders were told that the concert, which would be held in conjunction with a charity, was canceled due to “increasing rates of COVID infection, closures imposed in parts of Europe and uncertainty regarding travel.” reported the Jewish Chronicle. All received a full refund.

However, ticket sales were also said to have declined after the rabbinate of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations declared that “concerts of this type are prohibited.”

The ultra-Orthodox rabbinate’s ruling was due to the event being required to have mixed seating for women and men, with small sections reserved for a segregated audience.

Several Jewish high schools had also told their students not to attend, London’s Jewish News reported.

Ribo, who has gained popularity in Israel in recent years with his religiously inspired songs mixed with lyrics taken from Jewish prayers, was due to take the stage on December 5, during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

The one-night concert was held in conjunction with Bedside Kosher, a UK-based charity that provides kosher food for hospitals.

Bedside Kosher President Ari Feferkorn told the Jewish Chronicle that the increase in virus cases in Europe meant that many people would not be able to travel for the concert.

“We have worked with partners in Europe who can no longer be sure of international travel. This uncertainty means that we cannot be sure that we can offer a safe event of this scale, ”he said.

“I don’t want to let people down at the last minute, so we made the toughest decision, but I think the right one, to postpone the concert now. There is simply too much uncertainty. “

Ribo told the newspaper that he had been “very eager to be with you during Hanukkah to illuminate the festival and our hearts in unity. But we live in a new reality, one in which the decisions are often not ours. “

In August, Ribo performed at New York’s revered Kings Theater concert hall.

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