The Eden Center is focusing its work this year on ‘Immersion in Inclusion’; educating and sensitizing mikveh attendants and the general community to the challenges and solutions of women with disabilities at the mikveh.
This blog is the first in a series, focusing on the lack of sight. What is the experience like for the visually impaired? When you take off your glasses or lenses do you too feel impaired and how does that affect your experience? What accommodations need to be made? What are the halakhic requirements of ‘iyun’ without one’s sense of sight? Do you want to close your eyes when you immerse– what spiritual benefits can be gained when we discount the visual experience? What should mikveh attendants know about supporting the blind and visually impaired? We would love to hear your feedback and personal stories.
Recently I worked in the mikveh on Friday night. I love working in the mikveh on Friday night and holiday evenings. It is the time where I feel the quiet spirituality of the day descend on the waters of the mikveh. There is a tranquillity to the hour and the lack of cell phones, buzzers and the hectic bustle of the regular weekdays adds to the atmosphere. In addition, women always come at the same time in order to get in and out and back to synagogue or families as soon as possible and the wishes of ‘Shabbat Shalom’ or ‘Chag Sameach’ reverberate in the air and contribute to an overall feeling of communal well-being.
But things always seem to happen on Friday nights. Whether the boiler breaks and the water is unheated on a snowy Shabbat, or women come having forgotten to remove chipped nail polish and questions about the laws of Shabbat need to be considered. This Friday night was no exception. When I crossed the street and went up the little path to the mikveh’s doors, three women were waiting in the dark. This was already odd because the mikveh has an outdoor light that illuminates the doorway. Upon opening the door, I discovered the lights had not gone on and while lights were flashing on the washing machine and dryer, the rest of the mikveh was pitch black except for the waning twilight that entered through the front door and from a very few windows in the front of the mikveh. [Read more…]