Mikveh-1

The Jerusalem Post has a story about four Israeli Knesset members from the Bayit Yehudi party who have signed onto a bill designed to sidestep a Supreme Court ruling allowing Reform and Conservative converts to use public mikvaot (ritual baths) for their conversion ceremonies.

Four MKs from Bayit Yehudi have signed on to a bill proposed by United Torah Judaism MKs Moshe Gafni and Uri Maklev to circumvent a recent ruling by the Supreme Court allowing the Reform and Conservative movements to use public mikvaot for their conversion ceremonies.

The director of the Reform Movement in Israel, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, called the legislation “absurd,” and expressed disappointment that MKs Shuli Moalem-Refaeli and Nissan Slomiansky had decided to support it, joined by two other Bayit Yehudi lawmakers, Bezalel Smotrich and Moti Yogev The issue stems from a 2007 ruling by the Beersheba Religious Council which refused a request by the Reform movement to use a mikve in the city for the immersion of a convert, following which the Reform movement filed a law suit against the religious council for discrimination.

Although a district court rejected the suit, ruling that the non-Orthodox conversions were private processes and not entitled to use state facilities, the Supreme Court found last week that preventing the Reform and Conservative movements from using the mikvaot was discriminatory and illegal.

Immediately following the ruling, Gafni said he would introduce legislation to prevent the non-Orthodox movements from using public mikvaot for their conversion ceremonies.

The legislation proposed by Gafni and Maklev states that mikvaot can only be used in accordance with Jewish law and in accordance with the instructions of the Chief Rabbinate.

Ne’emanei Torah Va’avodah said that the bill, if passed, would further strengthen the control of the haredi parties over religious services.

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