MK Moshe Gafni of the United Torah Judaism party

Knesset Committee Chair Vows ‘World War’ to Stop $2.6M Allocation for Non-Orthodox Mikvahs

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Knesset committee approved funding to build mikvahs for use by non-Orthodox Jewish movements in Israel, but its chairman promised a “world war” in allowing the plan to advance.

The Finance Committee allocated 10 million shekels, or more than $2.6 million, for the project on Monday, The Jerusalem Post reported. The four mikvahs will be used for non-Orthodox conversion ceremonies.

The allocation comes on the heels of a Knesset law passed in late July that allows local Orthodox rabbinates to bar non-Orthodox Jewish conversion ceremonies in publicly funded mikvahs.

The new law, which was introduced by the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism party and opposed by many North American Jewish leaders, will be implemented in nine months. The measure aims to override an Israeli Supreme Court ruling in February that paved the way for non-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel to use public mikvahs for conversions.

The funds requested by the Prime Minister’s Office for the mikvahs was labeled as being needed for projects  “to strengthen ties with Diaspora Jewry,” according to The Jerusalem Post.

United Torah Judaism lawmaker Moshe Gafni, who proposed the mikvah law, heads the Finance Committee and has criticized the use of public money for building mikvahs for non-Orthodox movements.

Gafni later told Haaretz that he understood the allocation was for joint projects with Diaspora Jewry, not non-Orthodox mikvahs.

“If it’s true, there will be a world war because I won’t allow it … I will wage war both as Gafni and as the chairman of the Finance Committee,” he told Haaretz.

The committee’s handling of the funding request was dispatched quickly, showing that Gafni did not want to be associated with the allocation, the Post reported.

It is not known if the non-Orthodox mikvahs will be completed in nine months when the law takes effect or if the allocation will cover the construction and startup costs.

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Knesset Committee Chair Vows ‘World War’ to Stop $2.6M Allocation for Non-Orthodox Mikvahs

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close