Mikve attendant 390.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Chief Rabbinate has announced that, together with the Religious Services
Ministry, it will be instructing mikve attendants not to conduct intrusive
checks on women seeking to immerse in a mikve.
The announcement comes
following the submission to the Knesset last week of legislation to prevent such
Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie and the ITIM religious services
advisory and lobbying group, who respectively proposed and advocated for the
, said that mikve attendants frequently question women and request that they
be allowed to conduct physical checks before allowing them to immerse.
Jewish law, women must immerse in a ritual bath, or mikve, every month after
their period as well as on other occasions, and specific and detailed rules
govern the ritual of immersion.
ITIM had sent a letter to the Chief
Rabbinate on the issue three months ago and received a reply on
“Mikve attendants are supposed to help a woman immersing to
fulfill the commandment of immersion according to Jewish law, and the attendants
are expected to offer their help for this purpose,” the Chief Rabbinate wrote to
“However, mikve attendants are not permitted to compel [any]
practices, checks or investigations on women wishing to immerse against their
will,” the rabbinate’s letter continued.
The Chief Rabbinate said that an
official directive of the Religious Services Ministry stating this policy will
shortly be issued to attendants, and that notices bearing the pertinent Jewish
laws on mikve immersion, including those relating to preparations and checks,
would be posted in mikvaot to “improve the service provided to women immersing
in the mikve.”
Despite the Chief Rabbinate’s announcement, Lavie will not
be withdrawing her proposed legislation but said in response that she was “happy
that the chief rabbis understand the problem” with the current situation and
that they are working to fix it.
“We have to ensure together that women
who want to immerse in public mikvaot feel comfortable and are not forced to
undergo humiliating interrogations which frighten them from going to the mikve,”
ITIM also welcomed the Chief Rabbinate’s letter and said
that the Religious Services Ministry should post in all public mikvaot the
directive that attendants may not demand to question or check women.
office of Deputy Minister for Religious Services MK Eli Ben Dahan issued a
statement on Tuesday saying that the ministry had several months ago instructed
staff to draw up a directive for mikve attendants for respecting the privacy of
women wishing to immerse in a mikve.
The directive is expected to be
released in the coming weeks, the ministry said.