Religion has a water problem. A water hygiene problem, to be precise.
First we learned, thanks to Austrian researchers, that
Eighty-six percent of holy water contains fecal matter, and in every milliliter of holy water there are up to 62 million bacteria. … Holy springs contain not only fecal contamination with E coli bacteria and enterococci, but also Campylobacter, which can cause inflammatory diarrhea.
Then we discovered that India’s Ganges river, revered by Hindus as a goddess, is seriously polluted with heavy metals and industrial waste, to say nothing of (a) the vast amounts of shore dwellers’ excrement and (b) the human corpses that are bobbing on the surface left and right. (The photos at that last link are pretty horrific — don’t click unless you have a strong stomach.)
Business Insider calls the Ganges a repository of “trash- and sewage-infested sludge.” However, the putrid foulness doesn’t bother the faithful, over 100 million of whom ritually bathe in the Ganges every year to wash away their sins.
And now, this fun fact via Haaretz:
Most ritual baths [called mikvehs, or mikvaot] in Israel operate without a business license and with substandard sanitary conditions and little oversight, the Health Ministry says, but the authorities are still letting them operate during the coronavirus crisis. “The sanitary quality is not satisfactory, particularly the water quality,” the report states…
The law requires that samples of mikveh water be taken monthly.
Not happening. Compliance is at less than 30 percent.
Israel has an estimated 750 mikvehs for women, nearly all of which have at least two immersion pools, meaning that at least 18,000 water samples are supposed to be taken annually. But the latest figures show that only 5,270 samples were taken.
The samples that are taken aren’t even kosher, so to speak:
Contrary to the law’s requirement that samples be taken during hours of operation, samples are being taken [by owners and their staff] early in the morning when the water is still relatively clean, the report found.
One source who knows the local bathhouse system said that
“The situation in the public mikvehs is dreadful, and in the private mikvehs the situation is much worse, without even minimal oversight.”
That source added this stomach-turning detail:
[I]n men’s mikvehs [outfitted with water filters], the water is changed every other month, on average, and in women’s mikvehs [also with filters], once a month.
In mikvehs without filters, the water gets changed as often as once a week. Still sounds nasty.
See? God has a solution for everything.
P.S.: Remember Washington DC rabbi Barry Freundel? Boy, that guy loved mikvehs. Or rather, he loved spying on and recording the naked women who entered them, including many who formally studied with him because they wanted to convert to Judaism.
Well, Dirty Barry got out of jail this month, a full year and a half before he’d finished serving the sentence the judge imposed. He won’t be supervised, and he won’t even have to register as a sex offender. Yahweh is merciful that way.
Perhaps the best we can do is keep mentioning RABBI BARRY FREUNDEL THE PERVERT AND CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER on this blog from time to time, and let the Great Google work its magic.
(Image via Shutterstock)