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Jerusalem - Religious Women Sue In Israel’s Supreme Court For Right To Choose How To Fulfill The Mitzvah Of Mikvah

Published on: July 20, 2015 10:33 PM
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Jerusalem - The ITIM Advocacy Center has petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court on behalf of a group of 13 religious women to do more to protect women’s rights at the mikvah, according to a report on Ynet (http://bit.ly/1RKcSYh). This includes allowing women to immerse in the ritual bath according to their beliefs and without coercion by mikvah attendants to adhere to local customs.

The petition against the Chief Rabbinate and the Jerusalem Religious Council alleges that the women were told how to submerge themselves and how to prepare for the immersion, regardless of the woman’s specific preferences. There has been disagreement surrounding customs of removing earrings, shaving one’s head, covering one’s hair to make the blessing, and arguments over when the mikvah is open to the public. Women were also not allowed to immerse without supervision or to select their own attendant to accompany them as a means of protecting their privacy.

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One petitioner said, “When you walk into the mikvah, there are no boundaries around your body.” Yet, women describe feelings of helplessness upon going to the mikvah; an experience which forces them to choose between their dignity and privacy or the sanctity of their marriage and family. “Instead of creating a positive experience of religious or spiritual purity, they are facing humiliation, the trampling of their dignity, invasion of privacy of their personal life, and the imposition of the customs against their will, all in order to fulfill a religious duty,” the complaint read.

Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, director of ITIM, said he is concerned about the overreaching on the part of the religious authorities in Israel and that Israel’s Chief Rabbinate has not implemented changes passed last year to address these issues. “Just as the state provides synagogues, but the worshippers are permitted to worship as they choose, so too, it [the state] should provide ritual baths, but it is not in a position to determine how a woman will fulfill or keep this or that rule. Ultimately, it is their [the women’s] private interest.”


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Read Comments (18)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 20, 2015 at 10:52 PM a-believer Says:

What exactly is religious about these women? I guess that they're going to the Mikva altogether?

2

 Jul 21, 2015 at 12:19 AM Shlomit Says:

Reply to #1  
a-believer Says:

What exactly is religious about these women? I guess that they're going to the Mikva altogether?

Why speak like this before you know the full story, especially during the 9 days? There are many truly religious women who are having issues with this. They seek to do this mitzvah according to the psakim that they have received from their rabbis. The mikvah lady, on the other hand, in some places, will only "allow" what she knows. It can be her way or you can't immerse. Also, chumrot are at times being forced upon women who just want to follow basic halacha. Why prevent someone who is not at your level of stringeny from doing a mitzvah at all or discouraging her from doing it? The mikvah ladies will also at times touch women suddenly, without permission and do not always respect modesty or a more shy individual. Imagine how an abuse victim might feel? There simply needs to be a certain amount of respect and understanding (within the bounds of halacha, of course) shown toward women who come to use the mikvah.

3

 Jul 21, 2015 at 12:20 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
a-believer Says:

What exactly is religious about these women? I guess that they're going to the Mikva altogether?

The sick and perverted obsession of the rabbonus with womens' bodies and how they observe taharah. These rabbonim who want to dictate to women on such private and personal matters are an abomination and should themselves be cleansed from the Chief Rabbinate.

4

 Jul 21, 2015 at 02:21 AM MINBP Says:

#1, Change your name to A-SHOITAH !!! Their are many different customs regarding mikvah. Length of nails, as mentioned above shaved head, if it's Friday night and she forgot to take off her nail polish, use of an IUD, going early on a Friday, how many days must pass before shiva nekiyium is started. Is it better for a women not to go at all ? I know of at least one women who went to a chasedeseh mikvah upstate and was so disgusted how she was treated she didn't want to go anymore !!!

5

 Jul 21, 2015 at 02:51 AM Mark Levin Says:

Change the title. They are NOT religious.

6

 Jul 21, 2015 at 06:12 AM BarryLS1 Says:

Reply to #1  
a-believer Says:

What exactly is religious about these women? I guess that they're going to the Mikva altogether?

Every Frum group has it's own minhagim. To impose yours on someone else is wrong. Who says your minhagim are better than someone else's. As long as the minhag is based on Halacha, what's the difference.

I don't know all the issues involved, or the motivation of the people, but some of the issues raised in the story, especially a woman not feeling degraded in going to the Mikvah, seem reasonable enough.

Jewelry is a different issue, but shaving ones hair or being subjected and exposed to a bully attendant is valid.

7

 Jul 21, 2015 at 06:37 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Mark Levin Says:

Change the title. They are NOT religious.

So you think that all married women should shave their heads?

8

 Jul 21, 2015 at 07:11 AM Respect Says:

In Bet Shemesh/Ramat Bet Shemesh this was an issue for a while. Some mikvaos were "attended" by women of a specific chassidus or following a specific rav. This was a "community" mikvah, but they enforced their rav's standards - making it uncomfortable for women from different kehillos to use this mikvah. There were also cultural differences - Anglos (Americans, Brittish, South African, Australian) were used to one atmosphere and one style of modesty, Yerushalmis to a very different one.

While there are basic "universal" standards, a community institution needs to be open to all. Many people who are not otherwise strict about shmiras hatmizvos observe taharas hamishpocha. My wife regularly met women who wore jeans and didn't cover their hair, but never-the-less went to mikvah. Enforcing selected chumras and maintaining a less than sensitive approach can turn these women away.

9

 Jul 21, 2015 at 07:21 AM fat36 Says:

Reply to #2  
Shlomit Says:

Why speak like this before you know the full story, especially during the 9 days? There are many truly religious women who are having issues with this. They seek to do this mitzvah according to the psakim that they have received from their rabbis. The mikvah lady, on the other hand, in some places, will only "allow" what she knows. It can be her way or you can't immerse. Also, chumrot are at times being forced upon women who just want to follow basic halacha. Why prevent someone who is not at your level of stringeny from doing a mitzvah at all or discouraging her from doing it? The mikvah ladies will also at times touch women suddenly, without permission and do not always respect modesty or a more shy individual. Imagine how an abuse victim might feel? There simply needs to be a certain amount of respect and understanding (within the bounds of halacha, of course) shown toward women who come to use the mikvah.

So let her take it up with her Rabbi not Sue.I agree with number one

10

 Jul 21, 2015 at 07:22 AM fat36 Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

The sick and perverted obsession of the rabbonus with womens' bodies and how they observe taharah. These rabbonim who want to dictate to women on such private and personal matters are an abomination and should themselves be cleansed from the Chief Rabbinate.

Having this says you have a point

15

 Jul 21, 2015 at 07:35 AM Rockland county Says:

Reply to #4  
MINBP Says:

#1, Change your name to A-SHOITAH !!! Their are many different customs regarding mikvah. Length of nails, as mentioned above shaved head, if it's Friday night and she forgot to take off her nail polish, use of an IUD, going early on a Friday, how many days must pass before shiva nekiyium is started. Is it better for a women not to go at all ? I know of at least one women who went to a chasedeseh mikvah upstate and was so disgusted how she was treated she didn't want to go anymore !!!

You sound like you were chassdisha,and have anger hate against torash hamishbocha.
I'm not very observant and happen to live upstate I've never had an issue in the past 25 years.

17

 Jul 21, 2015 at 01:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Shlomit Says:

Why speak like this before you know the full story, especially during the 9 days? There are many truly religious women who are having issues with this. They seek to do this mitzvah according to the psakim that they have received from their rabbis. The mikvah lady, on the other hand, in some places, will only "allow" what she knows. It can be her way or you can't immerse. Also, chumrot are at times being forced upon women who just want to follow basic halacha. Why prevent someone who is not at your level of stringeny from doing a mitzvah at all or discouraging her from doing it? The mikvah ladies will also at times touch women suddenly, without permission and do not always respect modesty or a more shy individual. Imagine how an abuse victim might feel? There simply needs to be a certain amount of respect and understanding (within the bounds of halacha, of course) shown toward women who come to use the mikvah.

Shlomit bat Divri?

18

 Jul 21, 2015 at 03:24 PM a-believer Says:

#4 thanks for the compliment! Everyone has a choice which Mikva to go to. If this particular one has different minhagim , then find yourself another one!
BTW I think all men should keep their comments to themselves on this one!

19

 Jul 21, 2015 at 04:28 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

The sick and perverted obsession of the rabbonus with womens' bodies and how they observe taharah. These rabbonim who want to dictate to women on such private and personal matters are an abomination and should themselves be cleansed from the Chief Rabbinate.

'The sick and perverted obsession of the rabbonus with womens' bodies' - Are you actually referring to the sages of the talmud and their spiritual descendents over the past 1500 years?

20

 Jul 21, 2015 at 04:29 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
BarryLS1 Says:

Every Frum group has it's own minhagim. To impose yours on someone else is wrong. Who says your minhagim are better than someone else's. As long as the minhag is based on Halacha, what's the difference.

I don't know all the issues involved, or the motivation of the people, but some of the issues raised in the story, especially a woman not feeling degraded in going to the Mikvah, seem reasonable enough.

Jewelry is a different issue, but shaving ones hair or being subjected and exposed to a bully attendant is valid.

If you are not aware of the issues, why don't you just look up what ITIM represents.

21

 Jul 21, 2015 at 04:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Respect Says:

In Bet Shemesh/Ramat Bet Shemesh this was an issue for a while. Some mikvaos were "attended" by women of a specific chassidus or following a specific rav. This was a "community" mikvah, but they enforced their rav's standards - making it uncomfortable for women from different kehillos to use this mikvah. There were also cultural differences - Anglos (Americans, Brittish, South African, Australian) were used to one atmosphere and one style of modesty, Yerushalmis to a very different one.

While there are basic "universal" standards, a community institution needs to be open to all. Many people who are not otherwise strict about shmiras hatmizvos observe taharas hamishpocha. My wife regularly met women who wore jeans and didn't cover their hair, but never-the-less went to mikvah. Enforcing selected chumras and maintaining a less than sensitive approach can turn these women away.

when you write that it is a community mikveh, are you aware who built and funded it? If it was built by the municipality, you have a point. However, many chassidishe groups refuse to use those mikvaoth and build their own, self-funded. These are NOT community mikvaoth; they are private establishments and you are expected to follow the halachic rulings of the group that owns funds and runs them.

22

 Jul 21, 2015 at 04:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
MINBP Says:

#1, Change your name to A-SHOITAH !!! Their are many different customs regarding mikvah. Length of nails, as mentioned above shaved head, if it's Friday night and she forgot to take off her nail polish, use of an IUD, going early on a Friday, how many days must pass before shiva nekiyium is started. Is it better for a women not to go at all ? I know of at least one women who went to a chasedeseh mikvah upstate and was so disgusted how she was treated she didn't want to go anymore !!!

You're wrong about certain things. If there is a chtzitza, the immersion is INVALID. So you're saying it's good that they're going anyway? Even if it has no value halachically?

23

 Jul 22, 2015 at 05:31 AM BarryLS1 Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

If you are not aware of the issues, why don't you just look up what ITIM represents.

Because it has nothing to do with what I wrote. There are real issues there beyond any particular organization that do need to be addressed. Discounting them because of an organization is wrong.

24

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