Non-Orthodox Jews can use mikvaot for conversion

Deputy religious services minister says ritual baths can be used by Conservative, Reform groups for conversion process.

By
May 23, 2013 00:17
2 minute read.
An Orthodox Jew enters into a ritual bath in Safed

Mikve (R370). (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)

 
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 experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • 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

Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan said on Wednesday that ritual baths, or mikvaot, could be used by Conservative and Reform groups for their conversion process, even though the Chief Rabbinate does not recognize conversions conducted by non-Orthodox Jewish denominations.

Ben-Dahan was speaking during a hearing of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, which was reviewing the operations of the Religious Services Ministry.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Non-Orthodox converts have until now been prevented by the Religious Services Ministry and the Chief Rabbinate from using state-run mikvaot.

In response to a question from attorney Yizhar Hess, the director of the Conservative movement in Israel, Ben- Dahan said that “any Jew from any denomination, including Conservative and Reform Jews, can use the mikvaot, even for the purposes of conversion.”

Although the state recognizes Conservative and Reform converts as Jewish, the rabbinate does not, thereby preventing them from marrying a Jewish partner in Israel.

“Religious services are for all Jews in the State of Israel and everyone can use these services,” said Ben-Dahan. “I emphasize that the religious services which are provided are within the framework of Jewish law,” he added, however.

Although a certain amount of confusion reigned after Ben-Dahan’s comments were made public, Hess cautiously welcomed the new position saying that he hoped the deputy-minister “would stand be his guarantee: to allow Reform and Conservative converts to immerse in mikvaot throughout the country as part of the completion of their conversion process.”



Addressing a separate topic, the deputy minister said that he and the ministry did not oppose lengthening the period of summer daylight-saving time, something which has been a source of controversy several times in the past.

Since 2005, DST has ended before Yom Kippur so that the fast finishes earlier in the day, but the restricted period of DST, significantly shorter than in Europe and the US, led to protests and political opposition.

“We are in favor [of extending DST], there is no reason to oppose it. Yom Kippur is 25 hours long, it doesn’t matter at which point in time [it is observed],” Ben-Dahan told the committee.

Committee chairwoman Miri Regev said she was happy he had answered in the affirmative.

“If you as a religious person say it doesn’t bother those who are praying, then we can connect [different] populations to work toward this,” she said.

Two years ago, more than 300,000 people signed an online petition calling on the government to extend DST.

Related Content

Joan Rivers
August 28, 2014
Joan Rivers rushed to hospital following throat surgery

By JPOST.COM STAFF