Court: Reform, Conservative can use public mikvaot for conversion

Until now, the local religious councils, which operate the public mikvaot within their regional jurisdictions, would not allow non-Orthodox converts to use them.

By
February 12, 2016 01:54
1 minute read.
mikva

A mikve, the Jewish ritual bath [Illustrative]. (photo credit: CHABAD.ORG)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

In another victory for the non-Orthodox movements in Israel, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that converts through the Reform and Masorti (Conservative) movements should be allowed to use public mikvaot for their ritual immersion.

After completing the conversion course and being accepted by a rabbinical court, converts must immerse in a mikve, a ritual bath, in front of a panel of three rabbinical judges to complete their conversion.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Until now, the local religious councils, which operate the public mikvaot within their regional jurisdictions, would not allow non-Orthodox converts to use them. Public mikvaot are funded jointly by the Religious Services Ministry and the local municipalities.

The Reform and Conservative movements began legal work on this issue in 2007 and formally approached the Beersheba religious council requesting that a convert be allowed to immerse in one of the city’s mikvaot, with three members of the rabbinical panel to witness it.

The religious council refused and the Reform and Masorti moments filed a lawsuit with the Beersheba District Court claiming their converts were discriminated against based on their religious choice.

The district court rejected the suit, ruling that the non-Orthodox conversions were private processes and not entitled to use state facilities. The movements appealed to the Supreme Court in 2010 and the ruling was handed down on Thursday.

The justices wrote that the denial of access to public mikvaot for non-Orthodox conversions is discriminatory and illegal. They said although non-Orthodox conversions can be considered private processes, the discrimination against the Reform and Conservative movements “is inconsistent with the duty of the administrative authority to act with equality in all its actions.”



“This ruling is another significant step on the path to full recognition of Reform and Masorti Judaism in Israel and we will continue our efforts to complete the path in the coming years,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Reform Movement in Israel.

Kariv called on “moderate Orthodox” and national-religious figures and institutions to support the drive of the non-Orthodox denominations to greater equality.

Attorney Yizhar Hess of the Masorti Movement in Israel also welcomed the ruling, saying it was “another step in showing the basic fact that there is more than one way to be a Jew.”

Related Content

Basketball
July 20, 2018
Latest Israeli hoops protégé Deni Avdija finding his wings

By JOSHUA HALICKMAN