Speaking with Kol Berama Radio on Sunday morning 3 Adar-II, Beersheva Chief Rabbi Yehuda Deri Shlita explained the High Court decision compelling his city’s religious council to permit a Reform convert toivel in a public mikve address the specific case but pertains to mikvaos and religious councils nationwide.
Rav Deri explained many are unaware that the state defended the religious councils in the High Court case, explaining the attorneys for the state argued that state mikvaos are only compelled to permit people to toivel, but this does not include tevila for conversion, which is done as a special service on a limited basis.
Rav Deri stated, “As a service, once or twice monthly, in only one mikve in the city, we also accommodate giyorim since this is a service to the Chief Rabbinate” giyorim explained Rabbi Deri.
Rav Deri explains the High Court however did not accept the differentiation between regular tevila and a convert toiveling. Hence the bill to prohibit converts from toiveling in public mikvaos nationwide, since as Rabbi Deri explains, the religious councils lack the manpower to accommodate all converts from all streams around the country, including Orthodox. He explains the converts in recognized Chief Rabbinate conversion programs will not have a problem finding a private mikve.
Rabbi Deri added that the religious councils are simply stopping to provide this additional service, which they are not compelled to provide under their mandate. He stresses this is not circumventing the High Court as many are reporting their actions, but simply reverting back to the days when conversion services are not provided and this will be enforced equally for all; Orthodox, Conservative and Reform”.
Rabbi Deri feels this will be accepted by the court since there is one policy for all and any claims of discrimination against non-Orthodox converts would be unjustifiable. He adds that it would be absurd to expect civil service rabbis to act in contradiction to policies of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and in these cases, it addresses conversions that are not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate.
Rabbi Deri stated Reform converts can go and find their own mikvaos, explaining for them it is not about mikve or even the Kosel but about official recognition.
Rabbi Deri emphasized that are not interested in toiveling as one must or davening by the Kosel but simply seeking recognition. “B”H HKBH is watching over Eretz Yisrael and they do not have any foothold and somehow this has been the case for 60 years since the establishment of the state” added Rav Deri. He added there is not a single meeting of the Chief Rabbinate Council that does not discuss one High Court ruling or another. “We must call it what it is. It is not about Kosel or mikve or anything else, simply recognition…There will be no recognition, not directly or indirectly” Rav Deri concluded.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)