Bill to Keep Reform Conversions from Public Mikvaos Approved by Committee

YERUSHALAYIM -

A bill to bar the Reform and Conservative movements from using public mikvaos for their conversion ceremonies was approved by ministerial committee on Sunday, clearing it for debate and voting in the Knesset.

The proposal follows the outraged reaction in the chareidi community to the demand from heterodox groups to be given access to publicly-funded mikvaos in Eretz Yisrael for the purpose of conversion procedures which have been rejected by poskim as halachically invalid. Along with the plan for a special area at the Kosel for non-traditional visitors, the mikvah issue is part of the current thrust of the Reform and Conservative movements for official recognition, which Gedolei Yisrael have staunchly opposed.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the bill proposed by United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, and supprted by several other chareidi MKs as well as four Jewish Home members.

The proposed legislation states that mikvaos may only be used in accordance with Jewish law as defined by the Shulchan Aruch, and in compliance with the instructions of the Chief Rabbinate.

It stipulates that preventing someone from using a mikvah in accordance with the proposed legislation “will not be considered a crime or a civil injustice” as determined by the Law against Discrimination in Products, Services, Entrance to Recreational Facilities or Public Places (2000).

The bill was drafted in response to a High Court ruling issued last month that it was discriminatory and illegal to prevent non-Orthodox groups from using mikvaos.