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Why did Israeli singer Yuval Dayan refuse to shake Biden’s hand?

The religious Jewish singer declined the US president's outstretched hand during his visit to Israel, but she did not mean to offend him.
 U.S. President Joe Biden meets Israeli singer Yuval Dayan on July 14, 2022.

Israeli singer Yuval Dayan stoked controversy today when she declined to shake US President Joe Biden’s hand during his visit to Israel

Dayan performed for Biden at the Jerusalem residence of Israeli President Isaac Herzog. Biden is in Israel for an official visit, and has met with Prime Minister Yair Lapid, opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others — in addition to Herzog. 

After the performance, Biden went to shake Dayan’s hand, but she declined to do so. The video was widely viewed on Israeli social media. 

Dayan did not shake Biden’s hand due to a practice of Orthodox Judaism. Many Orthodox Jews do not touch anyone of the opposite sex unless they are a spouse or close family member. The reasoning comes from the Torah’s prohibition on forbidden sexual relations, according to the Chabad movement of Hasidic Judaism. 

Dayan confirmed to Israeli media that she did not mean to offend Biden, and that she informed Herzog’s office beforehand that she would not shake hands. 

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