Pictured above: The Goldman Mikvah, located at Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale.
There are many reasons to visit a mikvah, or ritual bath. Jewish law requires that one immerse in a mikvah as part of the conversion process to Judaism and woman are required to immerse before getting married and when observing the laws of family purity. Both men and woman will visit the mikvah before Shabbat or Yom Kippur or before a special event such as a bar/bat mitzvah.
The oldest mikvah in the Valley recently received a complete renovation. Mikvah Chaya Mushka located at Chabad Lubavitch of Arizona in Phoenix opened in 1996. The renovation, finished in the summer of 2018, was sponsored by Tina and Kurt Woetzel.
“We decided that after (more than) 20 years it was time to upgrade it completely,” says Rabbi Shlomo Levertov, co-director of Chabad of Paradise Valley. “We did a total upgrade. We put in brand new tiles, a big spacious shower, beautiful fixtures, a special soaking tub, built-in speakers with music and LED lighting.”
The renovation took more than a year and was done in stages so that the mikvah could remain open during construction since it was the only Orthodox mikvah in the Valley at the time.
“A mikvah is not about shul membership, it has a membership on its own,” says the rabbi. “Everybody uses it no matter what shul you go to. It’s a service that Chabad of Arizona offers the community.”
Two attendants track appointments; nothing is entered into a computer to respect the user’s privacy. Chabad also pairs women getting married with a teacher who will teach them the laws of family purity and the laws of mikvah.
“The most important thing is when a lady comes to the mikvah, she should feel that this is the most beautiful experience,” says Rabbi Levertov. “It should feel spa-like. We wanted to make it so nice that a person wants to do it.” He recently received a call from a woman asking where she can purchase the same soaking tub because she enjoyed it so much during her visit.
For more information, visit chabadaz.com.
Newest mikvah opens
The newest mikvah in the Valley opened in November 2018. The Goldman Mikvah, located at Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale, was thoughtfully planned and designed when the new synagogue was constructed.
“Mikvah is an ancient custom we have had since the beginning of the Jewish nation. It’s a commandment in the Torah to use the mikvah for purity reasons,” says Rebbetzin Esther Allouche. “In the time of the Temple, if you were not pure you were not able to be part of the services in the Temple until you immersed in a mikvah.”
The mikvah is filled by a combination of collected rainwater and tap water. “It’s like a spiritual cleansing because you are going back to the source, the water, as if you are going back to nature,” says Esther. “Also the way the mikvah is built, it’s built in the ground. Not only are you connecting with the water but you are connected to the source. It’s on a different level.”
The mikvah is used primarily by women observing the laws of family purity. This Jewish law forbids a husband to approach his wife during the time of her menses, and extending beyond this period for another seven days, known as the “seven clean days.” It is a renewal for the relationship as the couple builds ties that are stronger than just physical contact.
“They have to find other ways to connect – intellectually and emotionally,” says Esther. “Through going out, giving each other a gift, talking and finding ways to connect. It makes for excitement from when she comes back from the mikvah, and they can resume intimacy again.”
She explains that even a woman who has entered menopause and has never participated in the ritual of family purity can enter the mikvah as a one-time immersion.
“(The couple) will abstain from intimacy until she goes in the mikvah,” says Esther. “It will bring her the same blessings as if she had participated when she was younger. It’s a powerful thing.”
CBT is holding an event on Feb. 8 with guest speaker Devora Goldberg, who will speak about Jewish marriage during a Shabbat dinner and lecture in the evening. During the day, women are invited to enjoy a spa day at Spa Lamar and attend a workshop to learn more about the laws of family purity.
For more information on this event or the mikvah, visit bethtefillahaz.org.