What is a Mikvah?
A mikvah is a pool of water used for the purposes of ritual and spiritual purification.
In Judaism, water is a symbol of life. It is no wonder that Sages tell us that when beginning a Jewish community our first act is to build a mikvah. Because the mikvah is a symbol of spiritual cleansing, transformation and renewal, individuals come to the living waters at times of change in their lives or to commemorate a special occasion.
Here are some popular, evolving uses for today's mikvah:
- Immersion by brides, grooms and partners prior to the wedding ceremony
- Men, women and children's conversions to Judaism
- Taharat Hamishpachah, the mitzvah of women's traditional monthly immersion
- Marking transformations in women's bodies such as onset of menstruation, miscarriage, infertility, pregnancy, the birth of a child or menopause
- Preparations for Shabbat and holidays
- Honoring personal milestones
- Beginning anew by marking the end of a period of mourning, or recovery after illness
Although there is a heavy emphasis in Judaism on the importance of community, coming to the mikvah is a very private time for reflection and spiritual cleansing.
Our mikvah was built and is maintained according to the standards of Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld and Maharat Ruth Friedman under the rabbinic guidance of Rabbi Trieger of Mikvah Israel of Brooklyn, NY, which supports the establishment and rebuilding of mikvaot in communities across America. If you have any questions please contact Maharat Ruth Friedman at MaharatRuth@ostns.org.