Tofa'ah: Women & Miracles

Where do I even begin to tell you all about a phenomenal band whose members are phenomenal women; that the band was founded by one super phenomenal woman named Yona who is raising two incredibly miraculous  and phenomenal young boys? Why do I keep repeating the word phenomenal, you ask? The word tofa'ah is the hebrew word for phenomenon. Tofa'ah is the name of the band!

Tofa'ah, the world's first Jewish women rock band, keeps blazing trails. The unifying purpose, high level of musicianship and the sound of Tofaah remain unique in the world of Jewish music. (https://www.tofaah-jewish-music.com/)


The founding members of Tofa'ah around 1982.

Tofa'ah was founded by drummer/percussionist Yona Yakobovitz "as a vehicle to inspire women to raise their voice in praise". She had been studying Judaism at a seminary in Jerusalem and playing music with another friend in hospitals, nursing homes when she was asked to participate in a fundraising talent show/concert. She gathered a few more talented women musicians she knew from the seminary. With this she had formed the beginnings of the band. They named the band, Yona and the Wailers! It was clear from the number of women who attended the concert that there was a need for more artistic opportunities for women. This was in 1981 in Jerusalem.


Read more about Yona here: https://www.tofaah-jewish-music.com/tofaah-jewish-band-yona.html

I joined the band at that time in 1981. I didn't know that the band members were mostly observant young Jewish women. They were performing for women only because of a Jewish halachic ruling  called Kol Isha. In a nutshell this law was instated as part of the laws of modesty to protect against sexual transgression. It's a complicated and even somewhat controversial ruling. Click on this link to delve more deeply into it should you be more curious.

I was secular and basically ignorant about Halachic/Jewish rulings. However, I had come from America inundated with a 1970's women's liberation mindset. A focus on women was fine with me no matter what the framework! More than that to me it seemed that I had fallen into a group of fabulously talented musicians and that was good enough for me. 

Prior to joining Tofa'ah I had been playing in duos, trios and groups mostly composed of very talented men. I continued playing with them all the while I was also playing with the women of Tofa'ah. As time went on I had many opportunities to play and perform music all around Israel for all sorts of audiences. Yet it was with Tofa'ah that I learned, grew and evolved the most - musically, as a woman and spiritually. I had just started to write my own songs. Tofa'ah was the vehicle that became my expression. We began to establish ourselves as songwriters. Our all-female audiences loved our songs and we rewarded them by offering a rotation of our old favorites, some known traditional and popular songs and then, with each concert, we offered our new songs. This kind of set up is a paradise for a creative musician. We all thrived, Not only musically. We explored and challenged the relevance of the melodies and rhythms that were applied to Torah/Biblical verses. We delved into the world of women to write songs that were meaningful to women's experience, emotions, feelings, soul and sheer being. What was our relationship to each other as women, to the world, to men, to the Creator? The music provided us a vehicle to express our femininity and spiritually on many levels. 

In 1984 we recorded our first vinyl LP: Tofa'ah, the Sound of Joyous Song. Since then until today there have been many more recordings and concerts. We all have families, raised our children, some of who are now musicians too, and continue to bring joy and spirituality into the world with our music. 

Tofa'ah's existence and work as women musicians had a profound impact on the orthodox world. Where, in Israel, there had been hardly an outlet for women's expression, after a few years there were suddenly women's schools for the arts and talented women had finally found their voices. As an extension of our work we decided to branch out and work with talented women artists of all kinds, We established a non-profit organization called Tof Miriam which is dedicated to the encouragement and support of Jewish women artists. We created a space to showcase women artists, usually on the same day as International Women's Day, and where women can network with others. 

Please take a moment to learn more about Tof Miriam by clicking here
Download at: https://acousticbreezes-rahel.bandcamp.com/album/tofaah-the-sound-of-joyous-song - All proceeds do to support Yona's two special needs sons, Yisrael Meir and Eliyahu. Learn more about them here: https://youtu.be/q7dQ6RSnAfQ

There is so much more to say about Tofa'ah but I would like to point your attention to a much needed cause. Yona, herself a woman living with the challenges of crippling rheumatoid arthritis, gave birth to and is raising to this day two very special young boys, Yisrael Meir and Eliyahu. 


Yissy and Eli are two disabled, chronically ill children with life-threatening conditions, children who need round-the-clock 24/7 nursing care. However for Yona these boys are her miracles. 

Here are a few articles you can read: 






See a short video clip here and below. 



 The challenges of life are phenomenal. Keeping them alive in a manner that supports a decent quality of life requires tremendous effort and tremendous funding. 

Can you lend a helping hand? 

1) The women of Tofa'ah all are happy to volunteer their time and talents for a performance where proceeds will go to support Yona and her family. Contact YONA or me, Rahel, for details and booking. 

** You may be blessed with the opportunity to meet Eliyahu in person because he is now drumming with the band on occasion! See video clip here: https://youtu.be/-dAuRg9ICxo

2) Send a check or money order to: Yona Yakobovitz, PO Box 3959, Jerusalem, 9103901 Israel

3) Transfer funds through PayPal: yonay@bezeqint.net

4) Transfer funds directly to the family account. Please contact us for account details. 


*** Should you need verification that these addresses and charity is valid please contact the following people (please contact us for their phone numbers): 

1) HaRav Dovid Weinberger of Har Nof, Jerusalem
2) HaRav Yehuda Saslow of the Ponevezh Yeshiva



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