Orthodox and Feminists Join Together

Modest acrobatic Hapoel Jerusalem cheerleaders in action!

See, it’s like this. Israel’s top basketball league decided that cheerleaders would be mandatory for every team. While teams like Maccabi Tel Aviv took to the ruling with gusto, others like Hapoel Jerusalem objected for fear that gyrating, scantily clad young women would alienate their more religious fans. In the end, the league imposed fines and disincentives such that Hapoel Jerusalem has no choice but to continue using them. While the Maccabi Tel Aviv cheerleaders are best described as, uhm, hoochie to the max, the Jerusalem cheerleaders focus on feats of strength and accrobatics while wearing somewhat modest outfits; “footless white tights and tops resembling maternity frocks.”

This controversy has created some unusual bedfellows. Nineteen women’s groups have shown their opposition and petitioned Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat against the imposition of cheerleaders. Joining them are members of the religious camp. Uri Orbach of the religious Jewish Home party, citing feminist reasons, stated that “In my eyes, it is chauvinistic that a crowd of mostly men needs to pass the time-outs watching young girls dancing and shaking. That seems pretty repulsive to me.” Cute!

Maccabi Tel Aviv cheerleaders in a relatively demure pose

But what does God want us to do? As all sports fans know, God shows his approval or displeasure with man via sports teams. During the regular season, with its 21-1 record, it seemed as if God’s countenance was smiling upon Maccabi Tel Aviv despite their really hoochie cheerleaders. However, in the playoffs Maccabi Tel Aviv lost its first game to lowly Bnei Hasharon. The teams are now tied 1-1, and we’ll find out next week if Tel Aviv will advance. In the meantime, Hapoel Jerusalem is set to sweep Maccabi Rishon, leading that series 2-0. So I guess we’ll see right?

PS: One last question though to the frummies amongst us, wouldn’t going to a basketball game be considered, you know, Bitul Torah?

PPS: This story was first broken internationally by Agence France Presse. In France, they call cheerleaders “les pom pom girls” (kind of like “le Big Mac”). Maybe that’s the solution? Really BIG pom poms?

PPPS: The image of the Maccabi Tel Aviv cheerleaders above was taken by Yaniv Ben Simon. The definitive gallery of Maccabi Tel Aviv cheerleaders is located here, shot by Ohad R., links provided for attribution and for research purposes only.

About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • CK asks:
    Maybe that’s the solution? Really BIG pom poms?
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    …. isn’t that the problem/attraction?

  • Ben-David: I meant literally pom poms, not breasts! Also look at the pics? See anything at all uhm… big?

  • Big girls can’t do all those gymnastics – even lycra has its limits.

  • All joking aside, I actually applaud Hapoel Jerusalem’s solution. For me feminism is finding the middle ground between objectification (pornography) and repression (Taliban). Seems to me that HJ’s solution compels the squad to invest in impressing the fans with their gymnastic skills rather than their body parts, a positive message for girls who look to cheerleaders as role models, and successfully entertaining the crowd. Everyone wins, no?