Balaniyot, baths and beyond: Israel's State-Run ritual baths and the rights of women

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Abstract

Ritual immersion in Israel has become a major point of contention between Israeli-Jewish women and the state-funded Chief Rabbinate of Israel. In order to conduct a religious household, Orthodox Jewish women are required to immerse in a ritual bath (mikveh) approximately once a month. However, in Israel, these are strictly regulated and managed by the Chief Rabbinate, which habitually interferes with women's autonomy when immersing. The article presents the case, then moves to discuss two models of religion-state relations: Privatization and evenhandedness (roughly the modern version of nonpreferentialism), as two democratic models that can be adopted by the state in order to properly manage religious services, ritual baths included. The discussion also delineates the general lessons that can be learned from this contextual exploration, pointing to the advantages of the privatization model, and to the complexities involved in any evenhanded approach beyond the specific case at hand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-212
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Law, Religion and State
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Keywords

  • evenhandedness
  • privatization
  • religion-state relations
  • religious discrimination
  • religious feminism
  • ritual baths

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