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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘mikveh’

Reports: Haredi Establishment Using MikvahCams to Prevent Scandals

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Following an increase in reported sex scandals in the Haredi community, rabbis and Mikvah managers have increased supervision in ritual baths using guards, compulsory modesty aprons in the saunas, and even cameras, Mosher Heller reported Sunday in Yedioth Jerusalem. According to Heller, mikvahcams and daytime supervisors have already been installed in Jerusalem baths.

Enhanced supervision of mikvahs is one of the ways the ultra-Orthodox establishment is dealing with reports of scandals in Jerusalem, both in and out of the mikvahs.

A source in the Haredi establishment who requested to maintain his anonymity has confirmed to JNi.media that just about every mikvah has a hidden camera. “No one cares about these pictures,” the source said, “they’re only there in case something happens, and then the value of having a record of the event far outweighs the issues of privacy.”

Apparently the mikvahcams are hidden from sight, using technology similar to nannycams that monitor how your babysitter treats your children when you’re away.

According to the Heller story, in the Shomrey Hakhomot mikvah in the Beit Israel neighborhood there are hidden cameras in the locker rooms, outside the showers, in the saunas and in the hallways. In many mikvahs the cameras are hidden over the dipping pools as well.

Access to the video records is restricted to certified rabbis, who may only watch the material in groups of three, and must verify their identities using their fingerprints.

A source told Heller that many regulars were upset to discover that they were being taped in their birthday suits. There was an outcry in Meah Shearim after a mikvah there announced that it had installed cameras “to maintain the sanctity of our camp.”

The most troublesome issue in daytime dipping in the mikvah, which is for men only, is the potential contact between unaccompanied children and adults. To this end the Skver mikvah in the Geula neighborhood in Jerusalem has hired a special daytime supervisor who walks in and out the small pool enclosures, monitoring the unsupervised children and “keeping an eye” on suspicious adults.

The reason for the intense involvement of the Haredi establishment in preventing sex scandals can be attributed to the proliferation of Haredi news websites, which over the past decade have been exposing numerous cases of sexual misconduct of every flavor, in a community that until recently maintained a code of silence over such crimes. The Haredi websites avoid vulgar language and stay away from lurid pictures — they use code words, innuendo, even scriptural citations, to wink and nudge at their readers who have no problem understanding the full message. In the past three years intense competition among more than five such websites has pushed the reports of Haredi scandals to levels of exposure they never received since the prophet Nathan rebuked King David over the “poor man’s sheep.”

And that archaic scandal also began at the bath, you’ll recall…

JNi.Media

An Ancient Mikveh in Gush Etzion

Friday, November 6th, 2015

My son in elementary school tells me that this is a photo of the steps leading down to an ancient Mikveh from the Second Temple period.

It’s located on Derech Avot (the path of the Patriarchs) in Gush Etzion.

Photo of the Day

Old Meets New

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Back in July, while building two nursery schools in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona, the construction team found a cave.

The Israel Antiquities Authority just announced that inside the cave archaeologists found a wine press, benches and a 2000 year-old mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) from the Second Temple period.

But what was more interesting, was that on the walls of the Mikvah they found writing in Hebrew and Aramaic as well as paintings and inscriptions on the walls. All unusual for Mikvahs of that period, but even more unusual was the amount of writing and painting that were found there in one location.

Painting and inscriptions found on the wall of a 2000-year-old mikveh in Jerusalem.

Painting and inscriptions found on the wall of a 2000-year-old mikveh in Jerusalem.

Ancient Cave Mikveh found in Jerusalem

THe IAA plans to make the painting and inscriptions available for viewing in the future.

Photo of the Day

2,000 Year Old Mikvah Found Beneath Jerusalem Living Room

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Beneath a modern living room floor in the quaint and flowering Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Kerem lies Judaism’s ancient secret to family purity.

During recent renovations carried out in that living room, however, the family living in the home discovered the secret beneath their home and called the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The IAA archaeologists were amazed to find a pair of wood doors beneath the stylized rug in the pleasant family living room, concealing a 2,000 year old mikvah (Jewish ritual pool used for purification.)

Today (Wednesday, July 1) the owners of the home were awarded a certificate of appreciation by the Israel Antiquities Authority for reporting their discovery and contributing to the study of the Land of Israel.

The mikvah is complete and quite large, measuring 3.5 meters long x 2.4 meters wide x 1.8 meters deep. It is rock-hewn and meticulously plastered in accordance with halacha (Torah law), and includes stairs leading to the bottom of the immersion pool similar to the mikvahs of today.

The rock-hewn stairs discovered under the living room floor lead down into the mikvah, the pool of ritual waters, as today.

The rock-hewn stairs discovered under the living room floor lead down into the mikvah, the pool of ritual waters, as today.

Pottery vessels dating to the time of the Second Temple (1 CE) and traces of fire that might constitute evidence of the destruction of 66-70 CE were discovered within the pool.

In addition, fragments of stone vessels were also found, which were common during the Second Temple period because stone cannot be contaminated; it is known to remain pure.

According to Amit Re’em, Jerusalem District archaeologist, “Such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel and Jerusalem in particular. Beyond the excitement and the unusual story of the discovery of the mikvah, its exposure is of archaeological importance.

“Ein Kerem is considered a place sacred to Christianity in light of its identification with “a city of Judah” – the place where, according to the New Testament, John the Baptist was born and where his pregnant mother Elisabeth met with Mary, mother of Jesus,” the archaeologist explained.

“Despite these identifications, the archaeological remains in Ein Kerem and the surrounding area, which are related to the time when these events transpired (the Second Temple period), are few and fragmented. The discovery of the ritual pool reinforces the hypothesis there was a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple located in the region of what is today ‘Ein Kerem.”

The owners of the place said, “Initially, we were uncertain regarding the importance of the find revealed below our house and we hesitated contacting the Israel Antiquities Authority because of the consequences we believed would be involved in doing so.

Gazing at this cozy living room one would never suspect that beneath the small throw rug lies the entrance to a 2,000 year old mikvah, a Jewish ritual pool of purification.

Gazing at this cozy living room one would never suspect that beneath the small throw rug lies the entrance to a 2,000 year old mikvah, a Jewish ritual pool of purification.

“At the same time, we had a strong feeling that what was situated beneath the floor of our house is a find of historical value and our sense of civic and public duty clinched it for us. We felt that this find deserves to be seen and properly documented. We contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority at our own initiative in order that they would complete the excavation and the task of documenting the discovery.

Hana Levi Julian

Washington, D.C. Rabbi Arrested for Mikveh-Voyeurism

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

If the charges brought against a Washington, D.C. rabbi are true, the stain against him and the shadow cast by the accused wrongdoing will be long and hard to remove.

The rabbi of the Modern Orthodox Kesher Israel, also known as the “N” Street shul, has been charged with installing an electronic camera in the mikveh building and using or intending to use the camera to see the women as they prepare to immerse themselves monthly in the ritual bath as is commanded in the Torah. The mikveh is also used on certain occasions by men.

Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel was suspended without pay by Kesher Israel’s board of directors after he was arrested and charged with voyeurism, allegedly using cameras to spy on women in the mikveh.

A police report obtained by the Washington, D.C. Fox affiliate alleges that Freundel was installing a camera hidden in a clock radio above a shower at the mikveh. The rabbi allegedly told the person who caught him that he was fixing the shower’s ventilation system.

The Washingtonian reported that police carried computers and other objects out of the rabbi’s home, which is a few blocks from the synagogue.

If there is anything positive to make of such a story, it is that upon learning of the reported inappropriate conduct, the congregation alerted the authorities, rather than try to sweep the ugliness under the rug. Too often certain religious communities turn inward at such a time and deal with the situation by removing the alleged transgressor from its midst, which simply exports the potential evil to another community.

The board of directors of Kesher Israel released the following statement on Tuesday, Oct. 14:

This is a painful moment for Kesher Israel Congregation and the entire Jewish community.  At this challenging time, we draw strength from our faith, our tradition, and our fellow congregants.

Upon receiving information regarding potentially inappropriate activity, the Board of Directors quickly alerted the appropriate officials.     Throughout the investigation, we cooperated fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so.

After today’s arrest of Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel, the Board of Directors suspended him without pay.  As always, Kesher Israel will remain open as a place of learning, prayer, and community, including throughout the remainder of the Sukkot holiday.

This is a very difficult time for all of us.  We respectfully request that our community be granted privacy.  Any further questions should be directed to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Freundel, 62, has been the rabbi at Kesher Israel for 25 years. He is also the vice president of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington and is a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America.

Freundel is scheduled to appear in court in Washington today, Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Archaeologists Uncover Tale of Ancient Mikveh and WWII Australian Soldiers

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Archaeologists excavating a construction site near the Ha’Ela Junction have uncovered a curious tale that entwines the fate of an ancient mikveh with that of two Australian soldiers who somehow ended up in the same spot in World War II.

The ancient ritual pool (“mikveh” in Hebrew) was recently uncovered at the Ha’Ela Junction during the routine excavations that are always carried out prior to construction in Israel, in this case to widen Highway 38.

Nearby, an enormous 1,700-year-old water cistern was also revealed, with graffiti scrawled on the ceiling of the reservoir, apparently by Australian soldiers during World War II.

The excavations are being carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority and are financed by the Netivei Israel Company, which is involved in the construction.

Yoav Tsur, IAA excavation director at the site, explained, “We exposed a mikveh in which there are five steps, with the fifth step being a bench where one could sit at the edge of the immersion pool.

“We found fragments of magnificent pottery vessels there, dating to the second century CE – among them lamps, red burnished vessels, a jug and cooking pots.

“Apparently the mikveh ceased to be used during the second century CE, perhaps in light of the Bar Kokhba revolt.

“A rock-hewn opening was exposed south of the mikveh, which appears to have been the entrance to a large water cistern. It seems that in an early phase it was a smaller reservoir and functioned as the “otzar) (water collection area) for the mikveh. When the mikveh ceased to be used, the cistern’s original cavity was increased to its current large dimensions and an extensive surface was built nearby, which facilitated drawing water.”

The archaeologists were also surprised to find during their excavations some graffiti engraved on the ceiling of the cistern, indicating that the site had been exposed at least until the 1940s.

Graffiti carved into ceiling of ancient cistern by Australian soldiers during World War II.

Graffiti carved into ceiling of ancient cistern by Australian soldiers during World War II.

The inscriptions were read by Assaf Peretz, an archaeologist and historian with the Israel Antiquities Authority, who said that two English names were carved in the rock: Cpl Scarlett and Walsh.

“Next to the names are caved the initials RAE and two numbers: NX7792 and NX9168. The date 30/05/1940 appears below the graffiti.”

The IAA inquired with authorities who confirmed that the numbers engraved in the cistern were indeed serial numbers of two actual soldiers, and that RAE stands for Royal Australian Engineers.

A search in government archives revealed that Corporal Philip William Scarlett was born in Melbourne in 1918, was drafted into the army in 1939, survived the war and died in 1970, shortly before his fifty-second birthday.

His comrade, Patrick Raphael Walsh, was born in 1910 in Cowra, was drafted in 1939, survived the war and passed away in 2005 at the age of 95.

It seems the two were members of the Australian Sixth Division. They were stationed in the country at the time of the British Mandate and undergoing training prior to being sent into combat in France.

Because France surrendered before the troops were ready they were ultimately sent to Egypt in October 1940 where they fought at the front in the Western Desert.

The archaeologists added, “If the relatives of these people are acquainted with the story, we’ll be happy if they contact us and we’ll share with them the warm greetings left behind by Scarlett and Walsh.”

Tsur pointed out that the finds from the excavation tell an exciting tale indeed: they “allow us to reconstruct a double story – about the Jewish settlement in the second century CE, probably against the background of the events of the Bar Kokhba revolt, and another story no less fascinating, about a group of Australian soldiers who visited the [same] site c. 1,700 years later and left their mark there.”

Hana Levi Julian

Ancient Mikveh Discovered In Spain

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

A 15th century mikveh was discovered at the location of the last synagogue in the old Jewish quarter of Girona in Catalonia, Spain.

The discovery of the Jewish ritual bath is significant since there are very few preserved mikvehs left in Europe, and it further highlights the importance of Girona’s rich Jewish heritage.

Girona is a town near Barcelona which was known for its thriving Jewish community before the expulsion of Spain’s Jews in 1492.

A recent archeological dig permitted the discovery of the mikveh at the site of the synagogue, which was founded in 1435 and abandoned in the summer of 1492, when the expulsion decree was carried out by King Fernando against the Jews of Spain .

It forced the community of Girona, consisting of about 20 families, to sell the synagogue along with the surrounding community spaces before fleeing the country. Thanks to records of the sale, the exact location of the synagogue, which now houses the Museum of Jewish History in Girona, is known.

Israeli ambassador to Spain  Alon Bar attended the public presentation of the finding, along with the Minister of Culture of the Government of Catalonia Ferran Mascarell, and Girona Mayor Carles Puigdemont.

“I commend the discovery of more evidence of a Jewish presence and want to encourage this cultural treasure in order to maintain links between our peoples,” said Bar.

According to officials at the museum in Girona, very few ritual baths of this type have been preserved in Europe and in the Mediterranean area; they have been found in Sicily, Montpellier, and Besalu which is also in Catalonia.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ancient-mikveh-discovered-in-spain/2014/02/25/

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