Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Israel's Parliament Enacts Law To Circumvent Court Ruling On Use of Mikvehs By Non-Orthodox Jewish Groups
According to the Jerusalem Post, in Israel on Monday the Knesset (Parliament) passed a controversial law that essentially circumvents an Israeli Supreme Court ruling last February (see prior posting) that opened publicly funded mikvehs (ritual bath facilities) operated by Orthodox-controlled religious councils for use by the Conservative and Reform Jewish movements for their conversion ceremonies as well as for Orthodox conversions. The new law allows local rabbinates to limit which groups can use public mikveh facilities, essentially assuring that they will only be open to Orthodox Jewish use. At the same time, the government has proposed that the Jewish Agency-- whose funds come largely from private contributions by Jewish communities outside of Israel-- build up to four mikvehs for use by the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements. The new law does not take effect for nine months to provide time for these new mikvehs to be built. The more liberal streams of Judaism doubt whether the construction can take place that quickly. This is part of a broader struggle by non-Orthodox streams of Judaism to gain more official recognition in Israel, and strong Orthodox resistance to those attempts.