Sisterhood Blog

The IDF Mikveh's American Benefactor

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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The living waters are not officially flowing just yet on the Ovda Air Force base in the Negev. As The Sisterhood told you last week, the first ever mikveh on an IDF base was to have been opened last Thursday. However, Ynet is reporting that the ceremony to inaugurate the mikveh was called off a day before it was set to happen.

The Army claims that the postponement of the ceremony has nothing to do with the recent controversies about religious practice in the IDF. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said it was all “due to technical issues in the coordination of the ceremony according to relevant orders and opposite the responsible elements in the IDF.”

But a source involved in the matter told Ynet, “That’s a lame excuse. The ceremony was planned weeks in advance and everyone knew about it. The army just doesn’t feel comfortable inaugurating the mikveh at this time.”

With these conflicting statements, it is not at all clear exactly why the ceremony was really called off. Ynet did, however, clarify some of the information that was in its original report on the mikveh. It turns out that the ritual bath has been operational already for two months. Also, the latest Ynet report names the donor of the $100,000 used to construct the mikveh. He is an American named David Hager, who has chosen not to interfere in matters pertaining to the inaugural ceremony, and who plans to donate more funds for the construction of mikvehs on other military bases in Israel.


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