When I made the decision to do an internship program in Israel this summer, I never imagined that my placement would work out so perfectly! As a junior in college, I, like many of my peers, was acutely aware of my looming graduation and the double sided coin that covers the expansive fields of psychology and public health. Knowing that I could be employed  anywhere from a Human Resources department to a research lab, I specifically requested an internship in women’s health, a career avenue I’ve enjoyed exploring during my time as an undergraduate. When my advisor recommended The Eden Center, I immediately had a gut feeling that it would be perfect for me! 

In just the short time that I’ve gotten to work here, I’ve been given the opportunity to work on our upcoming sexual abuse and menopause initiatives, listen to professional women discuss topics of intimacy, consent, and halacha, and learn from the incredible women at The Eden Center! Possibly most importantly, interning at The Eden Center has given me a pathway to explore women’s health from a uniquely religious and spiritual perspective, an experience that simply isn’t offered on my midwestern college campus. 

As a fun way of condensing just some of what I’ve learned during this summer, I wanted to write my own blog post with just some of my favorite posts previously published on our site! 

  1. Our Cycles, Our Seasons

Our Cycles, Our Seasons is a post written by Jess Fleisch that breaks down the female menstrual cycle into a woman’s four inner seasons and discusses how each season coincides with different elements of the taharat hamishpacha practice. I fell in love with this blog post because it calls into focus the importance of menstrual cycle awareness by connecting a woman’s natural hormonal fluctuations to the beauty of nature. 

2. Female Survivors of Sexual Assault and Their Encounter with Immersion in the Mikveh 

I chose this blog post, written by Rachel Shay and published in Gluya Magazine, because I was struck by the personal accounts of survivors who continue to visit the mikveh, in spite of the anxiety, fear, and vulnerability they experience. The several poems and stories that comprise this post remind me of the role we have as a community to support women in their journey to fulfill the mitzvah of mikveh. 

3. Wanting and Not Touching

Wanting and Not Touching is a heartwarming blog post written by Meira E Schneider-Atik that does a fantastic job of debunking the common misconception that being shomer negiah must mean you are not supposed to want any physical relationship with your partner. I love how Meira used her personal experience and lighthearted narration to reinforce the true idea of shomer negiah, while embracing natural and positive feelings of attraction in a relationship! 

4. Taharah

Taharah is a striking essay about a woman’s visit to the mikveh directly after a devastating family tragedy. Reading about her struggles to go to the mikveh for years after was a profound reminder to me of the power of perspective, and the need for accommodations and leniency within the mikveh practice.

5. The intimate connection between Mikveh and the Tantric Experience 

Ella Fuksbrauner’s blog post on the connection between mikveh and the Tantric experience is about how both the mikveh and tantra share an emphasis on growth and self discovery. I loved how Ella’s writing drew on the spirituality of the water and cleansing elements of the mikveh practice in such a beautiful way, and found it to be an enlightening read! 

6. Making it to the mikveh – with breast cancer

I was deeply touched reading Avigail’s A”h blog post about visiting the mikveh and teaching mikveh attendants while undergoing breast cancer treatment. I was struck by her compassion for the mikveh practice and attendants as well as her dedication to mikveh reform, directly influenced by her own experience as a mikveh attendee fighting breast cancer. 

7. Mikveh Stories 

And lastly, I wanted to include this joyful compilation of mikveh stories written by Yael Aldrich that reminded me that celebration is at the core of mikveh. Mikveh is a tradition that unites Jewish women from all across the world, and Yael’s essay on ocean immersions in both Hawaii and Japan certainly speaks to the diversity of each woman’s experience!