Photo: Kobi Wolf
'Technical issues.' Mikveh (archives)
Photo: Kobi Wolf

Inauguration of IDF mikveh called off

Day before planned ceremony and following Yedioth Ahronoth report, army cancels festive event. Military officials insist decision has nothing to do with public dispute over religion's involvement in military service

Ministers, Knesset members and Israel's chief rabbis were already invited to the inauguration of the first military mikveh (ritual bath), but a day before the planned ceremony, the Israel Defense Forces decided to call off the festive event at its southern Ovda base.


As reported this week by Yedioth Ahronoth, the ritual bath was built at the request of women living on-base, who complained of having to travel 60 kilometers (37 miles) to Eilat in order to immerse in a ritual bath.


Businessman David Hager, who lives in the United States, met the challenge and donated $100,000 for the construction of the first military mikveh.


The ritual bath was opened at the Ovda base about two months ago, and was slated to be inaugurated on Thursday in a festive ceremony, in the presence of ministers, MKs, the chief rabbis and many guests from abroad.


Surprisingly, a day after the Yedioth Ahronoth report, guests were informed that the ceremony had been canceled.


Army officials insisted that the decision to call off the ceremony had nothing to do with the current public dispute over the involvement of religion in military service (for instance, religious soldiers' refusal to listen to women sing).


'Lame excuse'

The IDF Spokesperson's Office said in response that "due to technical issues in the coordination of the ceremony according to relevant orders and opposite the responsible elements in the IDF, the ceremony is being postponed at this stage."


A military official explained that the VIPs' arrival at the base had not been properly coordinated. Sources involved in the issue said in response, "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."


David Hager, who arrived from the US to take part in the ceremony, told his associates he had no intention of getting into a dispute with the defense establishment and promised to donate money for the construction of a mikveh in another remote base.



פרסום ראשון: 12.03.11, 09:00
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