A mikve, the Jewish ritual bath [Illustrative].
(photo credit: CHABAD.ORG)
The controversial United Torah Judaism bill designed to prevent the Reform and Masorti (Conservative) Movements from using public mikvas for conversion ceremonies is scheduled for a final vote in the Knesset this week, either on Monday or Wednesday.
The legislation has generated fury among leaders of the progressive movements in Israel and the US, and other Diaspora leaders as well, who have labeled the bill as discriminatory.
Alongside the bill, the government has proposed that the Jewish Agency build up to four mikvas for the use of the progressive movements in Israel.
The Reform and Masorti movements have said however that they would only accept the proposal if the funds for the mikvas come from the government and not the main Jewish Agency budget.
The Jerusalem Post has learned that it is likely the Jewish Agency will however be asked to fund the mikvas itself, although this could still change.
The progressive movements have also demanded that the government fund the maintenance of the mikvas and the salaries of any staff required to operate them.
The government has not however contacted the Reform and Masorti movements directly on the issue to discuss the proposal.
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Director of the Reform Movement in Israel Gilad Kariv denounced the legislation on Sunday, and said that the progressive movements would oppose efforts to fund the new mikvas through the Jewish Agency budget.
"The government is spitting in the fact of the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel and the Diaspora with the mikva bill" he said, adding that, should it pass, it would empty of all meaning recent comments by Prime Minister Bemjamin Netanyahu that all Jews should feel at home in Israel.
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