Religious Affairs Minister Calls for Improved Working Conditions for Mikva Attendants

23 July 2015

A group of mikva (ritual bath) attendants made a splash at the Knesset last week when they joined a discussion and displayed their salary slips at a special meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee. David Azoulay, leading Religious Affairs Minister, called their working conditions “disgraceful.”

“This is an injustice that has been going on for years. We must address it immediately,” he added.

Members of NIF grantee Advot — a forum of mikva attendants initiated by Shatil that is now an independent organization — spoke at the meeting about their dismal working conditions and below minimum wage salaries.

In response, Committee Chair MK Moshe Gafni established an action team to include representatives of the Religious Affairs and Economics Ministries, the powerful Budget Department of the Ministry of Finance, the Knesset Finance Committee, the Religious Councils, the Histadrut Labor Federation, and Advot. He also mandated a rapid agreement regarding better salaries for these workers. If no solution is found in the coming months, he said, he would propose a bill to the Knesset.

Gafni said that the issue would stay on the Committee’s agenda until a proper solution is found. “We will not let this injustice continue,” he said.

Shatil has been empowering mikva attendants – Orthodox women who are among the most poorly paid in any sector – for five years, convening them together with mikva users for activism and advocacy training as well as peer support.