Skip To Content

Israeli Lawmaker: ‘I Will Wage War’ to Prevent Funding Non-Orthodox Mikvehs

JERUSALEM — A Knesset committee approved funding to build mikvehs 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 mikvehs 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 mikvehs.

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 mikvehs for conversions.

The funds requested by the Prime Minister’s Office for the mikvehs 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 mikveh law, heads the Finance Committee and has criticized the use of public money for building mikvehs for non-Orthodox movements.

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

“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 mikvehs will be completed in nine months when the law takes effect or if the allocation will cover the construction and startup costs.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.