At the top of the list were a community center, youth sports center and a junior high school auditorium. A synagogue and the mikveh were rated last. The residents also rated their priorities on the construction of a council hall, an arts and culture center, a school gymnasium, etc.
The proposal was met with some reservations on the part of the Ofek faction. "I will vote in favor, though I'm making a great compromise," faction member Yaakov Ziv said. "It's no secret I'd rather see the mikveh out of the list."
The religious residents, however were outraged over the decision. "This is unfounded hatred, even anti-Semitism," chairman of the synagogue committee Perry Shahaf said.
"What’s happening in Kfar Vradim is pure secular coercion, pure racism," he added and noted they intend to fight the decision. "We'll get a mikveh eventually, even if we wait light years for it. The council head will be replaced and we'll get our mikveh to which we are entitled by law."
The Kfar Vradim synagogue (Photo: Doron Golan)
Shahaf noted that the religious camp plans on funding the mikveh's construction by itself, only seeking the council's approval. "We asked to place the mikveh inside an existing structure so there's no issue of public land going to waste," he added.
A petition against the construction of the mikveh was distributed last week via e-mail.
"Kfar Vradim is a secular and pluralistic community, but pluralism doesn't mean changing its secular nature. Religious residents may live amongst us but must not enforce their lifestyles on us."
The petition's initiators believe that the aim of the mikveh lobbyists is to increase the number of haredi residents in Kfar Vradim. They noted that there are a number of mikveh facilities around the community which meet the Ministry of Religious Affairs' criteria and are open for the community.
The Kfar Vradim Council said in response that council head Sivan Yechieli believes all residents have a full right to express their feelings with a petition as part of a democratic public debate.