Sisterhood Blog

Getting Women to Mikveh, Snow or No

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

Jerusalem residents were told to stay off the streets during the recent, highly unusual, heavy snowstorm. Only plows and emergency vehicles were allowed to get through.

And only in Jerusalem would a “Purity Mobile” count as an emergency vehicle.

Ynet reported that Taharat Habayit (purity of the home), a Haredi organization, sent a 4x4 jeep-like vehicle out in treacherous road and visibility conditions last Thursday and Saturday nights to pick up women and take them to local mikvehs so they could immerse immediately following their monthly periods of ritual impurity.

“The organization’s top priority is raising awareness to the importance of the family purity mitzvah. We see it fit to operate even with such serious conditions like rainy weather and heavy snow, so that as many women as possible adhere to purity laws and manage to reach the mikveh in the easiest and most convenient way,” said Taharat Habayit chairman, Rabbi Yehezkel Mutzafi.

Not surprisingly, news of the Purity Mobile’s making its rounds during the storm generated much discussion in the blogosphere and on social media, in particular on the Facebook page of Joel Alan Katz, who edits the Religion and State in Israel blog. Some comments were critical, others were supportive, while still others were expressions of shock that something called a “Purity Mobile” even exists.

Leading the critical camp, was Shmarya Rosenberg at Failed Messiah, who wrote, “At a time when Israel’s government was warning Israelis to stay indoors and off Jerusalem’s treacherous, snow choked roads, a haredi organization ignored those orders and went out in a jeep, not to rescue trapped motorists or bring food and other necessities to trapped elderly Israelis, but reportedly to do a mitzvah it deemed more important – bring women to mikvahs so they could immerse and remove the ritual ‘impurity’ caused by their monthly menses and then have sex with their husbands without sinning.”

“To me it appears that their ‘raising awareness’ is translated in action as uber-pressure on the women to be driven around at all hours away from family at home in unsafe and hazardous roads and weather conditions to get to a mikveh, rather than a safer alternative which is obviously to wait out the storm a few days until roads are cleared,” posted one Facebook user.

Displeased with people posting snarky comments suggesting that the Purity Mobile should play MC Hammers “U Can’t Touch This,” or that it’s mission should be referred to as “Booty Call of Duty,” one person suggested that there may be pressing issues, such as fertility problems and ovulation timing, compelling a woman to go out to the mikveh in a snowstorm.

“Are all women just pawns being pressured into doing things against their will?” he wrote. “Do any of you have any friends who have dealt with fertility issues? Do you realize how helpful this service could have been for them?… Does everything immediately need to be brought to the crassest level?”

One woman pointed out that it would be wrong to assume that women were using the transportation service only because of pressure from their husbands. “I think it’s nice to offer [the service]. I mean it’s not like they grabbed the women and stuffed them into the vans. Why is it about men? Lots of women don’t want to wait either,” she suggested.

Finally, many thought that the lack of tznius (modesty) associated with the branding of the service was the main problem. (A “Taharat Habayit” sign is plastered on the side of the jeep, and was presumably especially noticeable when so few other vehicles were on the streets.).

Katz’s request for names of women who used the service during the storm went unanswered. “Sorry…, if I did, I wouldn’t post it on FB. Privacy settings,” wrote one woman.

One poster summed it all up much of the debate with: “A bit too public for most women and just seems to pander to men who don’t want to wait a few more days for some nooky.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: snow storm, Purity Mobile, Jewish, Jerusalem

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.