For millennia, the mikveh was the pivotal institution for Jewish women, and considered central to Jewish family continuity. It provided women with a sense of connection and time for introspection and spiritual intimacy. Today, however, mikveh has lost meaning for many women and has even become a source of discomfort and alienation. Even among traditional and religiously committed women, research shows that increasing numbers stop immersing after negative experiences. The disrepair of many mikvaot in Israel sends the implicit message that Jewish women are not valued. Moreover, many non-religious women, who encounter the mikveh as a state-ordained marriage requirement, become hostile toward Judaism and religious authority as a result of their experience. This makes Eden’s mission to make mikveh welcoming and relevant for modern women all the more imperative. The Eden Center imagines the mikveh as a focal point for addressing a variety of dynamics related to the Jewish woman and family, including but not limited to:
- Promoting tolerance and inclusiveness;
- Promoting women’s mental and physical health;
- Using the mikveh as a tool that connects women to sources of support within the community
- Empowering women and enabling meaningful religious, spiritual and personal experiences;
- Increasing public awareness of issues of women’s health and women’s well-being, including encouraging the intimate female voice in the context of marital relationships;
- Allowing all women to experience an intimate and meaningful experience of immersion in a way that is appropriate to her.
The Vision Behind The Eden Center
The Eden Center was born as result of 20 years of research, in which I learned that too often the mikveh is a place of pain rather than the empowering resource it ought to be. Women from all walks of life use the mikveh — more than 750,000 immersions every year in Israel alone — and in the course of life, they may experience challenges with fertility or miscarriage, postpartum depression, sexual issues or changes in their body that affect their own self image and their intimate relationship.
I asked myself: How, and where, are we able to hold those moments? What resources can we give women that can help them heal, that can actually rejuvenate them spiritually and emotionally?
Our goal at Eden is to infuse this ancient ritual with contemporary relevance and to transform the mikveh into that place of well-being, healing and embrace, with appreciation for the needs of women today.
I invite you to look through our website, learn about our programs, join the conversation on Facebook and stay up to date on exciting developments within our organization by joining our mailing list. Together we can create a more meaningful mikveh experience for today’s Jewish women.
Dr. Naomi Marmon Grumet,
Founder and Executive Director of The Eden Center