Balaniyot Outraged Over Jerusalem Religious Council Decision


mikvah.jpgThe women in charge of Yerushalayim mikvaot are outraged over the implementation of a cost-saving plan which they say is resulting in a deterioration in the condition of women’s mikvaos in the capital.

Yehoshua Yishai, who is the chairman of the Jerusalem Religious Council, has already implemented his new plan, which demands the balaniyot (mikve caretakers) are responsible for cleaning the mikve, dismissing the designated cleaner.

To date, a mikve employed three people, a head balanit, an assistant and a cleaner. Yishai says the cleaner’s position is superfluous while the balaniyot explain the cleaner’s work is intensive and difficult, and they do not have the time to get the job done. As a result, the mikvaot are beginning to show signs of neglect, and this they fear may chas v’sholom deter some from going to mikve, especially less frum women.

Chana, a veteran balanit calls the decision an “outrage,” explaining the mikve is not as clean as it once was, explaining it appears neglected, and some women walk in and take a look and then turn around and leave. Chana adds a balanit is a “half rabbi” and the decision to make her clean as well is insulting, comparing it to one entering a lawyer’s office and insisting that he clean his own office.

Tzipora, a veteran head balanit from southern Yerushalayim expresses her pain, anxiety and her feeling of being highly insulted by Yishai, stating he is simply destroying the city’s mikvaot. She adds that Yishai told her “there is no difference between a balanit and a cleaner.”

“Worse than that,” Tzipora adds. “The chairman assumed his post and knows one word, ‘cuts’. Instead of looking for ways to strengthen Halacha, seeking ways to improve mikvaot, he feels compelled to appease the treasury.”

“How can he throw the cleaning responsibilities on us? We are involved in one’s neshama and the halachic ramifications surrounding this critical mitzvah. We deal in denei nefashos!”

“Mr. Yishai has chutzpa. It’s not enough that for months I did not receive my salary or the fact that for the past six years, I do not receive my clothing allowance, sick leave and other benefits which are compulsory according to the law. Now they come and try to take a chunk out of our flesh,” she adds.

“The Religious Council and Rabbinate are hefker, there is no one responsible. Why don’t we receive vacation pay? We actually met with an attorney to begin preparing our case and then Yishai made promises, talking us out of it. Since then, nothing has occurred.”

Tzipora is working in her present post for some 25 years, one of the few balaniyot in Yerushalayim with tenure, providing her with some job security. Others are just ‘temporary employees’ with little or no job benefits and may be dismissed at any time.

There has been no response from the Ministry of Religious Services or Yishai, despite several attempts to obtain a reply to the sharp allegations made against him, Chadrei Chadarim reports.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


  1. If mikvoes are not maintained and cleaned properly, there are some women who will just delete this mitzvoh. Who can live with that on their head?

  2. Budget cuts at times are a necessary evil, and on top of that, he’s not going to have sensitivity for something like this. These people are so far gone from basic hashkofoh and halacha.
    Bottom line: we’re going to have to get more people to volunteer and go down to clean it. It’s our own acrayus to be sure that every women WANTS to go.

  3. why should teh govt. pay for the mikva’os? In america we pay for it ourselves.

    We don’t support the medina, but we do want it to support us??

  4. #5
    Why? Because the fact of the matter is that in Yerushalayim, Mikvaos is under the Jerusalem Religious Council and that being the case it should be dealt with decency and with fairness at every level towards all involved as one would expect from any Munincipal run service. It that so hard to understand?

  5. I’m not sure if Mr. Yishai’s wife has a job, but let’s assume she works in an office. What would he think of a memo circulating that the position of janitor is superfluous and will now be shared by the office staff? What if that memo would circulate in his own building?
    This now means that the mikvah attendants must have the physical stamina, not to mention the time, to do the job properly.

  6. To #6, you are telling me that the city of Yerushalayim is responsible for paying for no less then 3 employees per mikva and anything less then that is neglect. And two of those employees think its beneath them – insulting – to deal with the physical maintenance of the mikva. For every employee you pay for there an employee or supply is taken away from another service. I agree with the basis sentiment of #5. Somehow in the US we get things to work, people pay for what they use. And if there is not enough money going around, then yes unfortunately things do begin to be neglected.

  7. What is the function of the balaniyot? It’s obvious they don’t clean. They have asserted that the other demands of their jobs do not leave enough time to clean the mikveh. But what is it precisely that they do?

  8. Note:The Balaniyot don’t say they are not capable of cleaning, they say it is below their dignity as ‘half rabbis’. At the same time they scream dinei nefashos. Maybe, if they really care, they should set aside their pride and do what they have to in order to make sure all women feel comfortable going to the mikvah they run.

  9. first off, if your not in ertz yisrael,
    you really don’t have permission to speak.
    stick to figuring out who’s the next satan at the helm of your crazy country.
    6. you didn’t answer the double standard. we want everything from the state, but we don’t really want to give anything back. anything. well maybe our garbage, when were not burning it, right?
    The city is defiantly responsible, because we (the charedim) don’t have enough money to go around to pay those type of fee’s, although the men pay from anywhere to 5-12 shekls per visit, I think they are privately run mikvaot, not to mention, the balanoit are on call 24 hours almost 7 days a week, erev chagim….
    10. our your kidding me? Balaniyot, are very chashuv individuals, and it’s defiantly not in their job description to clean. This move is a clear swipe at Mikvaos, i’m not sure who Yehoshua Yishaiis but he’s defiantly not full filling his duty to the creator, sounds like a very secular individual at the helm of the religious council.

  10. To: #6 and all:

    1)I do agree that this “beneath dignity to clean” is pure nonsense. Although their job is extremely important they should not feel it is beneath their dignity to clean the Mikvah. The question is if they truly do not have the time for it. If they truly do not have the time then it is the obligation of the munincipality to provide a cleaner or at least pay overtime to the balaniyot.
    Fair is fair. I do add that that the average Israeli family would not be able to support their Mikvaos as we do because our standard of living is much higher. No one could dispute that and I say Boruch Hashem the Mikvaos are under the Jerusalem Religious Council. At least one less cost for the average family. Also, being that Yerushalayim is the Ir Hakodesh, Mikvaos which promote sanctity should especially not be neglected. If a woman walks in and turn around because of the filth that is very upsetting and the munincipality should address that need. Not to mention that Yirushalayim seems to have enough money to promote the abominable, nauseating, discusting “Shame Parade” that decreases the sanctity of Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh.

  11. it’s beyond me why the state should pay for the mikvah. They should raise the fee and hire whomever they want. That’s the way it works in the normal world.

  12. 11 (and 10), this reminds me of the story of the very chashuva wife of a very chashuva rosh yeshiva (of an American yeshiva now over 70 years old), who was also expected to do such duties in the yeshiva.

  13. cantoresq- Ha Ha you’ve just exposed yourself.
    If you have no idea what the function of a balanit is, it just shows that you are not shomer Tahara which is one of the fundamental Mitzvos of a Jew.
    Who are you to be on the YWN forum speaking your warped mind when you’re not even frum? probably an atheist.
    Leave us alone and go to forums of your own kind.

  14. Amazing in the USA all the MIKVHAS are operating independetly & have nothing to do with the GOV.
    however for some strange reason in Israel the GOv. is in charge & they are the ones who hate religion more than any body else & why they are in charge is beyond me.

    IN prewar Europe poverty was rampent & existed all across europe however they each hed thier own Mikvha without Gov. interfernece, maybe its time to take a lesson from them & try to operate whatever Mikvahs you have on your own

    out of curiosity who operates the Mikvahs in Meah SHurim & Bnei Brak ??

    You build a Mikvah ones & than you have no problem but if you want to rely on the GOv. this is the outcome & i am not her to solve all of Israel’s problems, i am just observing how they always have a problem as they rely on the Gov.

  15. first off, if your not in ertz yisrael,
    you really don’t have permission to speak.
    BALONEY, we have heard this before and disagree. If you DON’T live in America, don’t come and fundraise here either.
    Balaniyot are chashuv individuals,,,,,so was the Ponevitcher rebbe who cleaned bathrooms, peeled potatoes and made beds so that bochurim would remain in yeshiva.

  16. RE: cantoresq in number 9:


  17. In response to #15 and #18 why the vitriol simply because I asked specifically what are the duties of the Balaniyot? Given the described heirarchy of a balanit, an assistant and a cleaner, one can assume that there are duties assigned to each functionary. I simply asked for a specific description of those duties. Based on that. how do either of you know what I do in my personal life? Moreover, #18 how are you able to know my thoughts? Seems my posts here strike more than one raw nerve, and people are all too quick to jump at the chance to attack me. I’m flattered but at the same time. . .non-plussed.

  18. #19

    Nice smooth try. Just who do you think you are kidding? For the sake of kedusha I will not elaborate in detail how I know.

  19. I sort of agree with #5…
    If the situation (financially) wasn’t as bad as it was, nobody would be taking anything from the government. Not bread subsidies, not mikvaot, not shuls, yeshivos, money for kollelim — NOTHING..

    …who knows

  20. #25, I’m not a ba’al teshuva. But with the ever quickening move of Orthodoxy to the right, both in terms of outlook at adherence to chumrot, I’m not quite sure that I’m still an Orthodox Jew either.

  21. your mixing oranges and potatoes, so I’m not going to respond.
    But I will say,
    we won’t come fundraise,
    if you stop wasting all your time on the Internet reading about us (in E.Y)
    ya hear?

  22. #28, there is a saying that “It only takes fifty years for a liberal to become a conservative and he never has to change his mind. I used to be a [liberal]Orthodox Jew. I’m now lalbeled a Conservative one. but it only took about twenty years for it to happen.

  23. 30- you say, “I’m now labeled a Conservative one. but it only took about twenty years for it to happen.”

    whadya mean? when you say “I’m labeled” are you referring to ppl here on YW who call you names, or society in general? (ppl in your life)
    & what took 20 years? why?

  24. I refer to both. More importantly I refer to my self perception vis-a-vis current Orthodoxy. Simply put, I don’t fit in; neither as regards the outer trappings nor in mindset.

  25. to cantoresq

    i already suspected u werent part of the frum [not liberal ] community from ur earlier posts on other threads. but more importantly –

    1]we love u[anyway] as a fellow jew & wish u the best in finding the truth about yiddishkeit [orthodoxy]. wer’e all human & u shouldn’t disregad true torah judaism even if u disagree with some of the humans who practice it.
    2] with all due respect [really! sincerely!]-
    our earlier correspndence about the hafganot in jrslm seem to make it clear to me that u have an “outside” superficial understanding of the workings of our communities. As i wrote to u earlier -[if u are open minded] please speak to a respected influential askan in our community; befriend him & with time u will be better informed & u will have appreciation for the things that dont “fit in”.

  26. #34, you miss my point entirely. It is not me who’s views are contra to the truths of the Torah. Neither are the views of those who adhere to a more fundamentalist understanding contradicting the Torah either. It is the blanket rejection of anything that challenges the fundamentalist understanding of Torah/Halacha that is contra to the truths of the Torah. It is that aspect of chareidiut that is abjectly wrong. And thank you for your expressions of affection, but I’d prefer that they were unconditional.