Friday, April 20, 2018

Shabbat Around the Table -- Mikvah

At this same time last year, I wrote, "This week's parshaTazria-Metsora, is about leprosy and ritual purity. Try as I might, for the first time I'm struggling with a way to bring these lessons down to a relatable level for young children."

I have the exact same challenge this year. I still can't find a way to relate Tazria-Metsora to the experiences of young children, so I'm going to write a little about the mikvah instead.

A mikvah is a ritual bath. It's discussed in this week's parsha, primarily as a way of dealing with the aforementioned leprosy and ritual impurity. Most traditional communities have mikva'ot, and in recent years many progressive Jewish communities have rediscovered the mikvah and found new meanings in old rituals. Currently, I serve as a mikvah guide at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC, the only community, pluralist mikvah between Baltimore and Richmond.

As a mikvah guide, I've had the privilege of witnessing conversions to Judaism. Some of these have been adult conversions, and some have been children's. Sometimes, in interfaith families, the choice is made to formally convert the children to Judaism. If this is a choice your family has made, and you belong to Agudas Achim Congregation, you might very well see me at the mikvah!

This experience has been very rewarding for me on many levels. I'm proud to be a mikvah guide, and I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about the mikvah.

Click here for more information about the Adas Israel mikvah, and here for information about Mayyim Hayyim (living waters), the movement that's inspired a 21st understanding of an ancient, biblical tradition.

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