Report: Woman who tried to immerse alone in Jerusalem mikveh removed by police

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A woman who visited two mikvahs in Jerusalem looking to be allowed to immerse without a female attendant present was removed from one of the ritual baths by police.

The woman identified by a pseudonym in a report Tuesday in the Jerusalem Post was removed from one of the mikvahs by police on Dec. 17, though no physical coercion was used. She finally immersed alone on Saturday night at a third mikvah in Jerusalem, according to the report.

Religiously observant woman immerse in a mikvah a week after the completion of menstruation; they are not able to be intimate with their husbands during that time period. Female attendants are present at the mikvah to ensure that the woman immerses properly in accordance with Jewish law.

The mikvahs are publicly funded by local religious councils through the Religious Services Ministry.

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Women have come forward who do not wish to have an attendant present during their immersion. Among the reasons are privacy issues, a need for more spiritual concentration, women who were sexually abused and women who have had a mastectomy.

Some religious councils, including Jerusalem, have instructed attendants to not allow women to immerse without the attendant present, according to the Post.

A spokesman for Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern told the Post that the rabbi will propose that a committee of women be set up to evaluate the requests of woman who ask to immerse without an attendant.

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