On Erev Yom Kippur this year in Toronto, there will be long lines at the women’s mikvaot. “The atmosphere at the mikveh is one of hustling and bustling, everyone is in a rush; a good kind of rush, where we all feel a sense of urgency while waiting our turns for a room,” says Diana Melnick, a high school educator and a kallah teacher. “However, once it’s your turn, no one would dare to disturb you and you are free to be in the mikveh for as long as you need to daven.” [Read more…]
The second time I ever went to the Mikveh stands out in my mind. I was nervous and hesitant and felt like a vulnerable novice. Would I bump into someone I knew on the way? Would I remember what to do? Would it be awkward if I recognized someone in the waiting area? Anxiously, I entered what I was only half certain was the entrance to the mikveh. [Read more…]
“I wondered if I did it or not,” Rachel explained. “What do you mean you wondered if you had done it or not?” The balaniot attending the workshop asked. It is hard to imagine, for people who haven’t dealt with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), how a woman could arrive at the mikveh, do the preparations, immerse in the mikveh, hear the balanit say “kasher” and be unsure she had done it. Rachel clarified: she knew she had just gone, physically, to the mikveh, but she left tormented by the idea that perhaps she had done something wrong and it didn’t count. She explained the type of torture she went through each time she went to the mikveh: “Thoughts kept coming in…driving me crazy….Did I wash my ears? Did I check my nails? Maybe I touched something after I checked…maybe the balanit didn’t notice?! What if she didn’t? Am I kosher?!!! Every time I calmed myself down by explaining to myself why I was Kosher another thought came in.” These thoughts consumed her in the mikveh and as she went home. [Read more…]
MK Aliza Lavie and ITIM have put forward a bill in the Knesset that will make it illegal for mikveh attendants to question women about their religious practice (see http://www.jpost.com/
In October we hosted a fascinating evening** with Einat Kapach reviewing films that raise the subject of mikveh. We saw how women on screen raise mikveh and family purity to examine other important junctures in their lives. This article (in Hebrew) describes the evening, and how the featured movies weave between the personal, intimate reality of mikveh immersion, and the voyeuristic, provocative medium of cinema.
For the full article: http://www.mishelach.co.il
**On October 23rd, Einat Kapach, a director and teacher at the Ma’aleh School of Television, Film and the Arts (http://www.maale.co.il/), led a public program that explored the portrayal of mikveh in a range of Israeli films. Kapach chose a group of films that tell stories about Jewish women’s lives, to be followed by a group discussion. By presenting the intimate topics of taharat hamishpacha and mikveh on the screen, the creators of the films seek to raise questions and start discussions about the role of halacha in daily life, both mundane and extraordinary. The films bring to the fore questions about the spiritual meaning of mikveh, the role of mikveh in the relationships between husbands and wives, and new movements for the renewal of mikveh use.
To wet your appetite, check out this film clip portraying a couple’s relationship as the wife prepares to go to the mikveh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YATzWG8-KnA