Personal Mikvah Experiences
from our own South African community
Most of these articles first appeared in our Women's monthly email newsletter. Subscribe
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Why I called my Rebbetzin - By Lisa D.
I do not consider myself religious. I do connect with Hashem in my own spiritual way, but was not brought up with Shabbat and kosher etc. and do not know a great deal about Jewish observance.
Like many others, I recently had an urge to do something for Israel. I wanted to really give of myself as a sign of my love and devotion to our brothers and sisters in Israel. I was ready for something different and special, something that would take courage.
I had heard once about the power of a mitzvah. A mitzvah is an act of connection. It connects us to Hashem and it connects us to our source – our soul. At a soul level, every Jew is connected, and so a mitzvah that I do actually affects another Jew and the world at large.
So one night I finally had the courage to call my Rebbetzin. I told her that at this very pressing and emotional time, I wanted to do something powerful. I told her I wanted her to tell me about Mikvah.
You see, our Shul recently built a mikvah. Some of my friends who are not observant have decided to start going to the mikvah and have been so excited about it. I, too, wanted to go see what it was about.
I made it absolutely clear that I was not committing myself to anything more than I was ready for. I simply wanted to hear what going to the mikvah entailed. Then I would decide if I would make an appointment and go.
My Rebbetzin understood. She met with me for about an hour and discussed the mitzvah of mikvah. At first I was quite overwhelmed, but as we spoke about the power of this mitzvah especially for women, I was very moved.
I have decided to go to the mikvah. I do not know if I will go just once, or if I will then decide to fulfill this mitzvah again. What I do know is that even one mitzvah is important and powerful. I feel privileged to have an opportunity to embrace this special women's mitzvah.
Mikvah is not what I thought it would be - By Jenna C.
To me mikvah was always a thing for the religious folk in Glenhazel. It was for those who keep Shabbat and Kosher and for those who send their kids to religious schools. It definitely was not for me.
But came a time in my life when I was searching for meaning. I needed to connect to something higher than myself and to tune into my inner energy and soul. I had heard about the recently built mikvah in our community and somehow felt drawn to it.
But I was afraid. Afraid to venture into an arena seemingly so beyond myself. Afraid that I’d be uncomfortable. Afraid of the newness of it all.
Still, I called my Rebbetzin. We met privately in her home and over coffee and cupcakes, she patiently and lovingly outlined the laws of Family-Sanctity. She reiterated time and again that one need not be on a certain level of Torah observance to do a mitzvah and connect to Hashem in this special way. She described the preparations for – and the immersion in- the mikvah and it simply sounded beautiful!
I loved the mikvah experience. The mikvah attendant was amazing. She was so sensitive, un-judgemental and caring, and made me feel so at-ease. I still can’t believe that I – a woman who feels far removed from anything religious – am now a regular mikvah-goer. But it’s there that I find an inner calm and a sense of direction and connection to G-d. It’s better than anything I’d ever imagined.
A story - The impact of mikvah in our community
Jade is a young woman in our community who recently came to the mikvah as a bride. Her mother and sister accompanied her, and after her immersion they shared a l’chaim and some personal heart-to-heart thoughts.
Ady, her mom, mentioned that she had not been afforded the opportunity to go to mikvah as a bride as her rabbi only told her the concept of mikvah a few days before her wedding day. She had never before been to the mikvah! Inspired by her daughter’s excitement and deep appreciation for this mitzvah, she agreed to get together for a one-on-one outline of the laws of Family Sanctity.
She prepared for her mikvah appointment with dedication and applied herself to all the details as she knew it would be the first and last time she could fulfill this mitzvah. With Ady's immersion, her two daughters both recommitted themselves to continuing to frequent the mikvah and there was a general energy in the family that surrounded a mother and her two daughters embracing the mitzvah.
Mark was proud of his wife and daughters, and was inspired by the inner journey on which they had embarked. He was moved by their commitment to attaching themselves to something spiritual. He, too, found himself wanting to deepen his connection with Hashem. And that's how he decided to begin to put on tefillin...
The Mikvah Attendant - By Carol Kleine
I don’t know why, but the idea of the mikvah attendant worried me. Immersing in a warm spa-like mikvah sounded great. Learning about and observing the detailed laws of preparing for the mikvah was a discipline I valued. But the mikvah attendant? Who was this lady who would greet me as I entered the mikvah building? What was her role?
Well, from the moment she ushered me into the beautiful, private, regal mikvah building, I felt at ease. She was just SO welcoming, and also extremely kind. She led me into the preparation room and told me to ring the intercom bell when I was ready. She would then come and show me into the immersion room.
I spent time in the preparation room making full use of the wonderful amenities the mikvah provided. Then I wrapped myself in a towel and rang for the attendant. Once in the immersion room, she asked if she could be of any more assistance to me and then humbly stepped aside as I stepped into the waters. I let her know when I was deep in the water and ready for my total immersion so that she could say ‘Kosher’. Each time she said ‘kosher’ I sensed an incredible holiness around me. I could almost see the angels of protection around me, and I felt empowered by my mitzvah. It’s weird cuz when I thought about it afterwards, I realized that I’d barely noticed that there was anyone else there, so immersed in thought and prayer was I. Though it did pass my mind that she sure was one humble, unassuming woman to have been there, but to have taken up absolutely no space.
I’ve come to love my mikvah attendant, the G-d fearing, super-sensitive and kind-loving woman whom I see once a month when I visit themikvah. I know that she is there simply for my safety, and to help me ensure that I’ve done a kosher immersion. (Though she did tell me once that she utilizes her time as an attendant at the mikvah to say her own personal prayer as well!) Sometime I like to chat to her. Other times we share hardly a word. But I appreciate so much that no matter my tears or smiles, or my rushing or relaxing disposition, she’s there to support and to help me. She’s there – for me.
Mikvah 101 - By Yael Geffen-Fine
So there I was engaged and very excited to marry my fiancé when I began to hear about all the things I needed to do to “prepare for marriage”. Pre-marriage counseling, no problem! I’m always pro talking and opening up...
Who is the Type? By Feige Hazdan
With the opening and buzz of our brand new Mikvah, I have been so inspired by the opening of so many women’s hearts. It has been uplifting speaking to friends who have been married for over 30 years, who have not had the opportunity yet of experiencing our powerful women’s mitzvah of immersing in a Mikvah.
I am learning never again to think: 'she is not the type to consider this mitzvah'. I am overwhelmed by so many women who are embracing this mitzvah for the first time, and by the many who are embracing this beautiful mitzvah now again, 2, 5, 10 (or more!) years since they got married.
The root of the word Mikvah (kuf, vav, heh) means “hope.” The Mikvah can be a place where hope is actualized and where potential is awakened and strengthened. It is my hope that our Mikvah will continue to be a catalyst for growth in our community, and a place where all of our dreams and prayers are heard and answered.
Connecting with My Potential - By Mandy Loeb
Why do a mitzvah? Because each time we do a mitzvah, we connect with Hashem in an extraordinary way; we take some part of our own world and elevate it, infusing G-dliness into our lives. But that is not to say that doing a mitzvah is always easy! For me, there are times when going to the mikvah is beautiful and everything falls into place, but then there are times when I find the discipline challenging.
At such times, I reflect on my mikvah experience prior to the conception of my daughter. As I approached the mikvah with a prayer in my heart, it took on a different element. It was no longer about who I was at that present moment, but about who I could become. As the water washed over me, I felt a shift. There was a connection not only with Hashem but with myself, and that’s when I realised: each month mikvah allows us to connect with our potential. It gives us the opportunity to wash the slate clean and start again.
I could choose to be better and the water would oblige. When I walked back up the stairs and reentered the world I was not the person I had been moments before. I had opened my heart and Hashem had filled it. For me, that is the power of mikvah, that is the joy of it.
A Bride 30 years after my Wedding - By Marion Shain
When I got married going to the mikvah was not something that girls did. I never knew anything about the mikvah. Then, 30 years after my wedding, my world changed. I was invited through a friend to the opening of the new mikvah at the Great Park Shul. Having never been in a mikvah I never knew what to expect.
I was amazed! I began to ask questions about going to the mikvah. After wonderful, inspiring meetings to learn more, I was ready to start preparing to go to the mikvah. The day arrived. Wendy, the mikvah attendant, greeted me on arrival and showed me in. Everything I could have possibly needed was available. I prepared in my own time making sure I did everything that was required - no more nervous, just so excited. Wendy guided me through the whole experience, making me feel so comfortable.
Before I left we drank a l'chaim in honour of my beautiful experience. I felt so uplifted. What an awesome special and spiritual opportunity, something I will never forget. What a privilege and blessing to be Jewish.
Safe Waters - By Sarah Newstead
I went to the Mikvah for the first time 18 months ago as a bride and since then I have truly appreciated my monthly immersion as it renews and reignites that excitement from the first time I went. The Mikvah allows time not only to concentrate on my physical cleanliness but gives me time to really reflect on myself, my relationship with my husband and Hashem.
Through the physical preparation, I not only feel spoiled but that my body becomes a spiritual vessel through which I transcend from the outside, often chaotic, world I live in back to the essence of life and love. Having a long bath, getting into a warm gown and saying prayers before immersion centres my soul, calms my mind and reconnects me again to my marriage and spirituality.
The prayers to Hashem to have a worthy union with love, peace and friendship, within the Jewish tradition, after the Mikvah ripple through into my home and marriage. My association of the waters of the Mikvah represents the warmth and safety of a mother’s womb and the opportunity for new life.
The Mikvah is something I always look forward to and hope others are able to appreciate and enjoy the experience as much as I do. Sarah is currently an Intern Clinical Psychologist at Helen Joseph Hospital.
The Mikvah Attendant - By Evelyn Helper
It has been a privilege to be an attendant in the Great Park mikvah! I have been a mikvah attendant for many years in many mikva’ot, but here, I feel an extraordinary sense of belonging. There is a special energy here. There is a sense of introspection I feel as I am about to greet a woman who is coming to immerse.
I try to use the time that I have here in this quiet, holy space - to connect with Hashem and say an extra prayer… I am in awe of the ladies I’ve met here. Women from all walks of life! I remember once a bride came, and I was so moved by the friends she brought with her. They sat in the beautiful foyer and prayed. Such prayer! It was breath-taking!
Indeed, the walls of this mikvah have heard many, many prayers….. In the merit of this holy place, and in the merit of the women who come here, may Hashem listen to all of our prayers and respond with an abundant of blessings! I feel blessed to be an attendant at Mikvah Ma’ayan Ganim.
Mikvah At My Age? - By Helen Tanchel-Levine
After a lengthy courtship my partner and I decided to get married. Let me start at the beginning. We are what you would call an 'elderly couple' who have been together for over five years...
Mikvah After Many Years - By Nicky Cohen
Recently as a result of my son’s Bar Mitzvah, I have begun to reconnect or rather connect with some aspects of Judaism. There are those Mizvot that are kind of difficult to take on.....
Who came to the mikvah last month?
A woman who drove for two hours in each direction just to come to the mikvah.
A mom of a bride. She'd last gone to the mikvah when she herself was a bride.
A 65 year old woman who hadn’t immersed in thirty years.
A new mom after the birth of her precious boy.
A newly-wed who returned for the 4th time since her wedding.
A woman who comes to the mikvah every month.
A woman who’d never been to a mikvah before.
The CEO of a leading business.
A woman who is desperately praying for her depressed brother.
A woman who has not stepped into a synagogue in over a year.
And many, many, many more…!
Comfort & Strength at the Mikvah - A post-menopause mikvah experience by Addie Blumberg
“So,” my beautiful Rebbetzin asked me one day, “Addie, how would you like to do one special mitzvah for yourself and for your family?”
“Well,” I replied, “I’ve never had the privilege and the opportunity to experience the mikvah in all my years of marriage”.
Even though I was raised in a traditional Jewish home, mikvah was not part of our life, nor my premarital teaching. I was so touched as I did not realise that I could have this opportunity, since I went into early menopause ...
The Tatoo - by Adela Renna
Over the past fifteen years of moving all over the world with my American diplomat husband, our career has taken us often to places where life is not easy. Whether in Slovakia, The Gambia, Armenia, Congo or Botswana,