|Written by Tamara Symonds|
New 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' Policy at the Mikveh
Following a petition by NIF grantees the Center for Women's Justice and Kolech, the Rabbinical Council has instituted a 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy regarding mikveh (ritual bath) use by women. The petition was submitted in the name of two women who had been forbidden from using the mikveh because they weren't married, but the petition also included cases of married women facing the same problem, as well as women on the eve of their wedding. According to Orthodox Jewish law, a Jewish woman is supposed to use the mikveh before her marriage and then at the end of each menstrual cycle.
The women agreed to withdraw the petition after the rabbinate announced that "there should be no stipulations or asking questions regarding their status to women who come to perform ritual immersion in the mikveh."
Attorney Susan Weiss, director and founder of the Center for Women's Justice, said in response: "We praise the position of the rabbinate, according to which one has to respect [the women's] privacy. It remains to be seen how the Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs, Eli Ben-Dahan, will implement this ruling."
The Center for Women's Justice, which was established in 2004, is dedicated to defending and protecting the rights of women in Israel to equality, dignity and justice in Jewish law. Kolech, founded in 1998, was the first Orthodox Jewish feminist organization in Israel.