Cambridge mulls rival mikveh plans

By Simon Rocker, May 27, 2009

A public showdown is looming over plans to open Cambridge’s first mikveh.

An open meeting has been called by the Cambridge Community Mikveh Charity (CCMC) for Sunday week, in the presence of a dayan from the London Beth Din, which held a hearing into the mikveh controversy six months ago.

David Gilinsky, a trustee of the CCMC, took his fellow-trustees to the Beth Din, complaining of “procrastination” over the project. He and his wife Ofra have offered land they own in Milton Road as a location for the ritual bath.

But the local Chabad centre also wants to build one on its Castle Street site.

After the Beth Din hearing, additional trustees joined the charity, which holds assets of around £185,000 for the construction of a mikveh in the city.

Ben Crowne, a history undergraduate at Cambridge University who is one of the two new trustees, explained that Sunday’s meeting had been organised at the direction of the Beth Din to discuss the Milton Road scheme.

Although the CCMC “have plans and planning permission for the Milton Road site,” he said, “the land itself is owned by Mr Gilinsky, a CCMC trustee. In the event of a decision to build at the Milton Road location, this land would be purchased by the CCMC in compliance with all relevant Charity Commission requirements.”

As for other possible sites in Cambridge, he added: “I would reiterate that the CCMC are continuing with the Milton Road plans in compliance with our directions from the LBD. I would have to wait until after the meeting before commenting on the existence or viability of other plans.”

Chabad’s Rabbi Reuven Leigh made it clear that he did not support the Milton Road proposal. “Our plans are still being worked on,” he said.

Barry Landy, a trustee of the Cambridge Traditional Jewish Congregation, said: “We do not regard Milton Road as a suitable site for a mikveh and we’d rather pursue other plans.”

Last updated: 1:34pm, May 27 2009