Barbra Streisand Takes A Swipe At Orthodox Jews In Israel

Category: Media & Culture / Jun 18, 2013 3:57PM EDT

Singing legend Barbra Streisand took a swipe at Orthodox Jews in Israel on Monday (June 17) who force women to sit in the back of buses and assault them for following religious rituals traditionally reserved for men.

The Oscar and Emmy-winning actress and singer, who is Jewish, was speaking at a ceremony at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she was awarded an honorary doctorate.

"It's distressing to read about women in Israel being forced to sit in the back of a bus or when we here about women of the Wall having metal chairs hurled at them when they intend to peacefully and legally pray. Or women being banned from singing in public ceremonies," Streisand said.

"But I'm also pleased to read that things are changing here, repairs are slowly being made and that's very good," she added.

A public bus system operating in some Israeli cities practices gender segregation in deference to ultra-Orthodox rabbis who have long wielded political power in the Jewish state.

Some of these clerics are also battling against a women's prayer group seeking to liberalize worship at the Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites.

The Brooklyn-born Streisand, 71, also offered some criticism of her own country's failure to achieve full gender equality.

"I don't pretend to know all the historical, legal or cultural details and I know that solutions don't come easy, as they don't in the United States, where women are still making 80 cents for every dollar that a man makes," she said.

During her visit to Israel, Streisand will sing at a 90th birthday celebration for the President and will perform at two concerts in Tel Aviv.

Video Credit: Reuters