The 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)