Attorney General Opposes Bill Barring Non-Orthodox From Ritual Baths

Ultra-orthodox Jewish men attend the funeral of rabbi Yochanan Sofer, leader of the Erlau Hasidic sect, in Jerusalem on February 22, 2016 after he passed away at the age of 93.

The Times of Israel reports: Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Sunday said a bill that would bar Conservative and Reform conversions from taking place at public ritual baths in Israel was unconstitutional and compromises religious freedoms.

In a letter to the government outlining his legal position, Mandelblit ruled the bill, which passed its first Knesset reading Wednesday, runs counter to the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and said it would not be defensible in the High Court of Justice.

According to the legislation proposed by United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni, the country’s ritual baths, or mikvehs, will only be allowed to operate according to the instructions of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

A statement from the Yerushalmim activist group praised the attorney general’s decision, saying it “strengthens and proves the claim that every woman has the right to autonomy over her body and her submersing [in the bath], in privacy and according to her customs.”

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