The Masorti/Conservative and Reform Movements have been fighting for the right to use public Mikva’ot for the purpose of conversion for over ten years. The local religious councils have always refused and as a result, most non-Orthodox converts have had to use the ocean as their mikveh, with all the accompanying limitations, including lack of privacy, weather, difficulties with babies etc. We served our first petition in 2006, but it was struck down as being too general. We were told to find solutions outside of the court and if not, to sue in particular instances. In 2008 we petitioned the Beer Sheva Religious Council who refused to let us use their mikveh for conversions. The Beer Sheva District court ruled against our petition and so we appealed to the Supreme Court.
On February 11, 2016, almost 6 years later, the Supreme Court has overturned the Beer Seva District Court decision. Supreme Court Justice Rubinstein accepted our appeal and stated in no uncertain terms that the fact that non-Orthodox conversions have still not been incorporated into the State Conversion System does not justify that our converts and our Batei Din are denied entry into State-funded Mikva’ot. He reiterated the importance of the freedom of the individual to choose how he wants to worship. He stated unequivocally that the moment that the State funds Mikva’ot, they must not be used in a discriminatory way. Even though the appeal was against the Religious Council in Beer Sheva, he stated that the Respondent to the petition is the State of Israel and so his judgment is relevant for all local councils. This is another vitally important step in the full recognition of our conversions performed in Israel.
For the text of the Supreme Court ruling, click here.
For Rabbi Uri Regev’s analysis and highlighted version of the Supreme Court ruling, click here.