As a swimming teacher, for over 45 years, I specialize in teaching people of all ages to swim, especially those who are afraid of the water.

It is astounding and sad how many women, from young kallahs to older mothers who already have several children, actually dread their mikveh night.  That dread comes from their fear of water. Fear of water (or of anything else) is not necessarily related to a past traumatic event, nor is it as a result of not learning to swim as children.  Fears are dependent on either lack of information or misinformation– and this is what I address.  In the case of swimming, this lack of information is really “experiential” information.  In other words, the theory of swimming may be well learned, but until a woman can actually get into the water and swim……

Here are 4 basic things that women want to know about becoming a swimmer:

  1. How long does it take to learn?

It takes about 12 minutes to learn to swim.  The rest of the time is assimilating the information into real strokes and perfecting balance and speed in the water.  In the case of women who are afraid to toivel ( immerse fully in a mikveh), sometimes it can take a few sessions, so that the new “experiential information” can “override” the old information base.

  1. Can anyone learn?

Yes.  In over 20 years of helping women here in Israel, there has not been even one woman who cannot toivel after “taking my course”.  Why is that?  Because Hashem has equipped us with the ability to toivel, we only need to “reveal” this ability.   And, my job is to help women reveal this ability.  No exceptions.

  1. I’m a little scared now, will I get over it – or will it get worse with time?

Most of the women who come to me for help are in their 40s, and when I’ve questioned them about why they waiting so long, they said that until now “I just forced myself”.  But now, I can no longer force myself, I have to learn.”

I recommend that if you are a little scared now, learn now– we’re talking about an investment of about 12 minutes!

  1. If there is one piece of information that I need more than anything else, what would it be?

Our bodies work like a teeter-totter with the fulcrum being around our belly button.  That means that if we put our heads in the water, our feet come up, a very scary feeling for anyone who wants to make sure that they have “two feet firmly planted on the ground”.  The rest is experiential.

Because of this need to help women who have trouble toiveling, I have designed a very unique workshop for mikveh attendants  (balaniyot).  I have been invited all over Israel (and overseas) to give these workshops.  With the simple skills that I teach in these workshops, mikveh ladies have been able to help women achieve this important mitzva and to toivel properly.   I work closely with The Eden Center to enable attendants to be able to make the mikveh experience positive– even for those who “fear water”

If you have any further questions or would like to get in touch with me directly:

Esther Gur