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Mikva

Mikvas in Israel Part II

By | Mikva, Religion and State | No Comments
The Business Licensing Order states that a ritual bath (mikveh) is a business requiring a license, and this, to “insure public health, including appropriate sanitary conditions”. The Business Licensing directives of 1999 (dealing with appropriate sanitary conditions for ritual baths), as set by the Ministry of Health include directives relating to the ritual bath building, it’s facilities, maintenance and operation, and are aimed at preventing safety and sanitary hazards in ritual baths. The Ministry of Health’s website states clearly that “only in licensed ritual baths can the sanitary conditions and other conditions be deemed appropriate.”
In 2004, the State Comptroller carried out an audit with respect to the business licenses of ritual baths in eight different local authorities in Israel, and pointed out numerous flaws and defects, which the authorities promised to rectify as soon as possible. A follow-up check, which we conducted more than a decade later in those very same local authorities, disclosed to the fact that despite the severely negative report submitted by the State Comptroller, with respect to most of the local authorities in question, the business licenses have not been improved, and, indeed, in some places (e.g., Tel Aviv) the situation has even worsened.
In an extensive examination conducted as part of this study, we contacted various local authorities in order to obtain information regarding the business licenses of the ritual baths operated by the different Religious Councils and Departments of Religious Services. Of the 761 ritual baths currently in operation in Israel and operated by these bodies, we received 481 responses (63.2%). Of these, 359 ritual baths (about 75%) currently operate without a license. For the sake of comparison, only 29% of business running regular bathing facilities in the Jewish sector operate without a required license.

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Mikvas in Israel Part I

By | Mikva, Religion and State | No Comments
Abstract

The Ministry of Religious Services and the local authorities in Israel operate 757 mikves (ritual baths) for women through the religious councils and religious departments in the various authorities. This study discusses various administrative and economic aspects of the mikve setup in Israel and points out several main findings:

NormalGolan 002Prices:

According to the regulations of the Minister for Religious Services of November 2013, the cost of a standard immersion in a mikve is NIS 15. The CEO memorandum of the Ministry of Religious Services determines that “it is compulsory to ensure that the abovementioned fees are charged,” but, in fact, each religious council, and occasionally each mikve attendant, does as they see fit and the Ministry’s regulations are not enforced.

During October-November 2014 we contacted all mikves in Israel by telephone and asked their price for a standard dipping; 482 of the 757 mikves responded to our question. Of those 482 mikves, in 231 (48%) a different amount was charged, in most cases this amount was higher than the required NIS 15. In fact, 35% of the tested mikves (168 out of 462) charged more than NIS 15 and 31% of the mikves charged more than NIS 20, with some charging even NIS 30 and NIS 35.

Findings show that in regard to certain authorities there is no uniform price even within the religious council, and each mikve charges a different price. In addition, findings show that in some absurd manner, it is actually the authorities in lower socioeconomic areas where residents are required to pay much higher prices that those set by the Ministry of Religious Services. Read More

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