(A7) Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Jerusalem’s Chief Rabbi, has ordered all of the women’s mikvahs (ritual baths) closed on Wednesday.
The order means that women who wish to immerse on Wednesday will be unable to do so. Men’s mikvahs will remain open.
Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) begins Wednesday evening, and lasts until Thursday after nightfall.
Rabbi Amar explained: “Even though there are rabbis who ruled in favor of this, and there are many who oppose them, during this time when all of the boundaries have been breached and forbidden acts have become as permissible, and immodesty has spread, and even courts of law and governments allow and aid the force of obstacles, this should be forbidden.”
The ITIM organization slammed Rabbi Amar’s decision, saying, “The decision was made on the spur of the moment, at the last second, without allowing women to fulfill the custom of their communities and their homes for hundreds of years. We have urgently requested that this evil decree be canceled. This is illegal interference in the customs women have kept for generations upon generations.”
“Discrimination against women and closing their mikvahs, while men’s mikvahs remain open today, is improper discrimination and severely harms religious freedom,” the organization added, noting its urgent request to the Religious Affairs Ministry asking that they reopen Jerusalem’s women’s mikvahs immediately.
Former MK Rachel Azaria responded: “I hear the cries of my friends, who have the custom to immerse on Yom Kippur eve. Their grandmothers immersed – this year, the chief rabbi is preventing it by force, by locking the mikvahs (the public ones, paid for by taxes) for women. Why? Something baseless connected to immodesty. The rabbi will go to immerse, as will the members of the religious councils. I hear my friends crying. Their immersions are as those who hold impure insects in their hands while they immerse.”