Jul 26, 2016

new law keeps people out of the mikva

MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) with the other Haredi MKs have been working to prepare and pass a new law that would give the Rabbanut more control over the public mikvaot. They were concerned about more encroachment of the Reform and Conservative into Israel, as they have been by the Kotel, and were worried about Reform conversions being performed in public mikvaot.

Despite the fact that we believe that a Reform conversion is meaningless, their use of the mikva as part of the process does not damage or ruin the mikva in anyway. However, the Haredi MKs are worried about the Reform attaining some sort of foothold in Israeli society, and some sort of legitimization in people's eyes, so despite the mikva not being ruined, the Haredi MKs don't want the Reform using it. The Supreme Court even decided that the Reform and Conservative have the right to use the mikvaot for their conversions.

So, they have been working on putting together a new law. Some initial drafts raised the ire of many groups, as they tried to give the Rabbanut too much control and too much micro-management ability over who can use the mikva.

They finally came up with the final version of their new law and passed it. According to The Times of Israel, the new law is that Reform and Conservative people will not be able to use the mikva at all. The mikva management (I assume via the mikva lady) will have the right to turn people away from using the mikva.

I don't know how anybody will know who is Reform, who is Conservative, who is simply not religious or whatnot. Plenty of not-Orthodox people have used the mikva until now, and I hope they won't get turned away because of this new law.

A Haredi askan commented about this that in the USA the Reform don't have any mikvas and have no use for them, so there is no reason they should need them here. The only reason they want to use the mikvaot here is as a tool to gain legitimacy and an opening into society via conversions.

I don't know how many mikvaot the Reform operate in the USA, but a quick Google search shows that they do have some. I don't know how frequently they use them, or for what, but the statement made above is obviously wrong. Besides for that, Haredim do things differently in Israel than they do in the USA, so why can't the Reform?

Another issue I see is that if someone Reform (more likely Conservative) wants to keep taharat hamishpacha and go to the mikva, why should anyone have the right to prevent them from doing so?

I thought the final law would specifically deal with preventing conversions by Reform, but they opened it up and said any immersions by Reform and Conservative are not allowed. Maybe they will only ban people who converted Reform or Conservative - but I don't know how a woman entering the mikva will be identified as a convert, let alone as a Reform convert.

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  1. I think a Reformer who shows up and says she wants to use the mikveh k'halacha won't experience any problems. One who shows up and announces that she and her husband do a joint dip which spiritually uplifting reggae music plays and no, she didn't actually check over the last week to ensure her bleeding stopped (who does that? OMG!) will probably have problems.

  2. in USA , a separation of church and state country, non-O have no right to access O mikvaot without consent of the O owners. a community wide paid-for situation may be different there; but R mikvas were made for their converts etc

    the USA is NOT a 1st amendment country. it's not clear on what basis then non-O can be kept out UNLESS the mikva was privately built....

  3. that should read ISRAEL is not a 1st amendment country

  4. Israel-Bashing BDS Movement refuted by Alan Dershowitz:


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  6. I don't know about current practice, but the local Conservative rabbis in my youth used the ocean to immerse converts.

  7. It really bothers me when people make up scenarios instead of actually doing research into what scenarios non-Orthodox people may use the mikvah. If they don't use the mikvah then why bother passing a law. If they do use the mikvah here, I think it is fair to expect that they would be using it for other reasons than trying to pick a fight with the Haredim.

    A Baal Keri is not allowed to go up to Har HaBayit. Haredim are against people going up to Har HaBayit. Why not use the same application of the law to close down all Men's Mikvot, to stop people from trying to gain traction on Har HaBayit?

    BTW, the Reform Mikvah in Salt Lake City is Kosher. The Reform Shul decided that they wanted to have a Mikvah. They didn't know how to build one, so they asked the Orthodox community how to build it. I heard this first hand from the Orthodox Rabbi in Salt Lake City at the time.


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