A group of reformed and unreformed Jews stormed a popular mikveh in Safed dressed in several layers of clothing, in protest of Shas’s proposed Western Wall modesty bill.
Religious mikveh-goers were shocked, and scrambled to hide, while the protesters, wrapped in several scarves and wearing multiple layers of coats, converged on the mikveh.
“They inappropriately and offensively overdressed.This is outrageous. Have they no immodesty?”Mikveh regular
“They inappropriately and offensively overdressed,” noted one regular, adding that it goes against the mikveh tradition of being fully naked before the ritual immersion in the water. “This is outrageous. Have they no immodesty?”
The stunt was in response to the Kotel modesty bill, which already received publicity when one woman got arrested for showing up there in her underwear or a bathing suit, depending on various accounts. Gottex refused to comment.
Overdressed and overheating
“If you ask me, they’re overcorrecting,” another mikveh bather said of the layered clothes demonstrators. “They came in overdressed, and they don’t even care that it’s 39 degrees Celsius. I can smell their schvitz from here.”
The protesters, led by Women of the Wall mainstay I’m Not Hoffman, said that more protests would be launched at mikvaot around the country, but only for the next few months.
“In the springtime, it becomes just too much, especially since these places never have air-conditioning,” she said.
However, backlash against the protests have also come from another source: haredim who advocate reform against the traditional restrictive style of clothing for the ultra-Orthodox.
“By seeing all these protesters come in, overdressed and uncomfortable, our very own struggle against the restrictions of the ‘black hat shadow’ have been co-opted by people who could never begin to understand,” activist Rabbi Moshe Finegarbs explained. “This was a lot easier when it was just people going to the Kotel in their underwear.”