A directive to be issued in the coming days by the Ministry of Religious Services will contain the order that women are to be allowed to immerse in Ministry-run mikvehs without the presence of an attendant.
The directive, published Friday morning in the Yisrael Hayom newspaper, stipulates that despite the fact that a ruling by the Rabbinate states that attendants must be present at all mikveh immersions, if a woman requests privacy, her request should be fulfilled.
"According to the ruling by the Israel Chief Rabbinate, any immersion by a woman requires the presence of an attendant. Even when an attendant is present, the woman's privacy must be respected," the directive reads, noting that it is possible for the attendant to only come in when the woman is actually immersed in the mikveh. "It is true that the absence of an attendant may have serious repercussions vis-a-vis the ritual validity of the immersion."
For a ritual immersion to be valid for purposes of family purity (Taharat Hamishpacha), halakha mandates that someone else be present to verify that the immersion was done properly.
The directive goes on, however, to clarify that if a woman demands that no attendant be present, she should not be opposed.
"If a woman expressly requests to immerse in the mikveh without the presence of an attendant or anyone else - she should not be prevented from doing so, though it should be made clear - with the requisite sensitivity - that the responsibility for the validity of the immersion then falls on the woman herself. The attendant shouldn't pester the woman beyond clarifying the aforementioned consequences of her decision."