A rabbi was detained last week following complaints that he had installed a camera in a men’s mikveh (ritual bath) in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Sanhedria in northern Jerusalem.
The private mikveh on Avinoam Street had been deserted for several years after the neighborhood’s former rabbi, Yaakov Yeshaya Blau, banned the facility, claiming it was halachically unfit for immersion and purification.
But after the rabbi passed away two years ago, the neighborhood’s residents gradually began using the mikveh’s services again. Recently, rumors began circulating in Sanhedria that hidden cameras had been installed in the place, documenting the naked men during the ritual immersion.
After some of the men who visited the mikveh confirmed the suspicions, several complaints were filed with the police and investigators were dispatched to the facility. The rabbi was detained for questioning.
Shortly after the rabbi was released, ads were posted outside the ritual bath, warning visitors that the cameras are still being used.
Some of the residents defended the rabbi’s unusual move, explaining that he was concerned by the rise in pedophilia incidents and sexual assaults in Jerusalem’s haredi neighborhoods. The rabbi’s associates explained that he had tried to deter sex offenders by installing security cameras in the mikveh.
The rabbi declined comment. The Jerusalem Police said they were conducting an investigation into privacy breach allegations.