Lexington Miqvah Foundation

Our mission is to build a small, attractive, egalitarian, kosher miqvah facility in the Central Kentucky area. We want to be able to enjoy the convenience of a local facility to observe mitzvot and to commemorate both private and public lifestyle events, broaden our spirituality, and connect with our ancestors in an unbroken line of observance stretching back to antiquity - and on into the future!

We wish to participate in the growing spiritual trend that is sweeping the nation to reclaim and reinvent one of Judaism's most ancient rituals - immersion in the miqvah - for contemporary spiritual use. We will teach about this resource for all men and women who are interested in new ways to express their individuality, and make the miqvah a sacred space that is open and accessible to all Jews including Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Unaffiliated, and Secular, including those in the process of becoming Jews.

In order to fulfill this mission, we have these goals in mind:

1. Provide a welcoming, beautiful place for traditional and creative miqvah uses.
2. Foster new ceremonial uses for the miqvah relevant to the 21st century Jewish community.
3. Provide information and accessible hours for those observing the mitzvah of niddah.
4. Recognize and promote the unique interests of men and women in traditional and contemporary miqvah practice.
5. Provide educational resources (both classes and teaching materials) regarding the uses of the miqvah.
6. Secure the financial future of the facility by operating in a fiscally responsible manner and through such means as debt avoidance, annual fund, and endowment development.

The Bluegrass area has been without a community miqvah for many years now. Join the Lexington Miqvah Foundation in this historic opportunity to being both tradition and a modern spiritual practice back to the area.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Conversion - why is a visit to the miqvah required?

Here is an interesting article from the My Jewish Learning webpage: Why Immerse in the Mikveh? Rabbi Maurice Lamm discusses what immersion symbolizes as part of the conversion process and how it actualizes a person's transition from being a person of the myriad nations to being part of the Jewish family.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Finding healing in spiritual rituals.

An article from Kveller.com How the Mikveh Helped Me Through My Miscarriage by Lisa Bloom, April 28, 2015 ...Last time I was there, I thought, “I wish every woman could experience the spirituality that I am feeling now.” No matter where you are in your life cycle, the mikveh can connect you to purity and holiness with God. It took me six years to go back. But I did. A rabbi I learned with in Israel once told me that we are all moving vessels at sea. It does not matter how long it takes to get to your destination, as long as you get there...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Yom HaShoah 2015: The Miqvah played a role in the lives of Holocaust victims and survivors.

Many Jewish women in these modern days do not understand the significance of the miqvah ritual, or think that it is no longer relevant for our times. Some believe it is imposed on women by men who fear women's sexuality and want to control it. It can be, in fact, a deeply spiritual experience - one that has great personal value. It can also be a link in a long chain, daughter to mother to grandmother, that has been part of Jewish women's lives reaching back into antiquity. It also has great historical significance even in the 20th century, as we see in this article.
Mikvah in the Ghettos: Women and Mikvah during the Shoah by Lani Lederer Berman ...Throughout history, the mikvah has stood at the very core of religious Jewish life and practice, and said to protect the Jewish people both physically and spiritually. It is therefore fitting on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, to explore some of the discourse surrounding mikvah during the Holocaust, when Jewish existence was threatened in both these realms. Though this piece is not an exhaustive examination of the topic, it is meant to join the conversation in an attempt to pay respect to those who endured the suffering and thereby fought for the physical and spiritual survival of our nation. The Nazis understood the importance of the mikvah. Rabbinic responsa record that in many places, specifically in the ghettos,1 the Nazis banned the use of the mikvah and closed them down. They prevented Jews from immersing for any reason, and thereby largely prevented women from keeping the laws connected to family purity. This raised serious questions regarding the propriety of a halakhic marriage. In The Oneg Shabbat Archives,2 which chronicled the lives of Jewish people in the Warsaw Ghetto, Rabbi Yehoshua Moshe Aronson notes that after the Nazi invasion, the mikvaot were closed in the Warsaw Ghetto. This led him and others to worry that “the consecration of married life would be marred by impurity.”3 Likewise, in the Slobodka ghetto, Rabbi Avraham Dov-Ber Shapiro, the chief rabbi of Kovno, struggled over whether to allow marriages, because of the difficulty of observing the laws of family purity in the ghetto. However, when a rumor that single women could be selected for deportation from the ghetto began to circulate, many women sought civil marriages to prevent deportation. Rabbi Shapiro thus decided to perform halakhic weddings, even without mikvah, for pikuach nefesh reasons. Another halakhic authority Rabbi Shimon Huberband, wrote in his responsa (preserved in the Oneg Shabbat Archives), “Jewish Warsaw was left without any mikvahs, and the problem of the purity of the daughters of Israel became as serious as it was in the days of the ancient Roman edicts against Judaism.”4 Anyone who used the mikvah would face the punishment of anywhere from ten years of imprisonment to death. Evidence suggests that the Nazis understood the mikvah to be something that separated the Jews, elevated their sexuality, and set them apart from others. Much like they desecrated Sifrei Torah, using their sacred parchment to make shoes, they used the mikvah, and the purity it symbolized, to taunt and degrade the Jewish people. The Nazis even went so far as to desecrate and defile people in the mikvah itself, as a symbol for the undoing of the Jewish people’s sanctity and lauding their abasement. Chaim Kaplan, who lived in the Warsaw Ghetto, noted in his diary on May 14, 1942: This week they have invented a new torture. Whoever hears of it doubts its veracity, yet this has happened— First they captured a few dozen young and beautiful women and transported them to a certain Jewish ritual bathhouse; afterward they captured some strong, powerful, virile men and brought them to the same bathhouse. Both sexes were forced by means of intimidation and whiplashes to remove their clothes and remain naked; afterward they were made to get into one bath together and were forced into lewd and obscene acts ”5 The Nazis explicitly overturned the symbolism of the mikvah, and turned it into a source for humiliation and degradation. Kaplan’s account continues with the Nazi’s stated aims: “Henceforward, all the world will know how low the Jews have fallen in their morals, that modesty between the sexes has ceased among them.” While the Nazis attempted to undermine or prevent use of the mikvah, it is interesting that many women, and even some communities, attempted to remain steadfast to its observance. Rabbi Huberband discusses how women in the Warsaw Ghetto risked their lives going to nearby towns to immerse in the river or to use secret ritual baths. This was all the more difficult (and heroic) since there was a restrictive curfew in effect, as well as restrictions on transportation. In the Lodz Ghetto, the mikvah was left under the auspices of the rabbinical board of the Judenrat. They made the mikvah a priority, even working to supply coal to heat the water (see above the photocopy of Lodz Rabbinical Board papers, April 1941. From Esther Farbstein’s Hidden in Thunder, p. 334). Various other ghettos were able to rebuild their mikvaot after they were destroyed by the Nazis, and retained their mikvah until the communities were deported. The incredible resilience of the Jewish people is made particularly eminent in the lengths they traveled to preserve the laws of family purity during the period of the Holocaust. On the 27th of Nisan, the Jewish people commemorate Yom Hazikaron L’Shoah U’le-Gevurah. The addition of “gevurah” to the name of the day is meant to emphasize the strength of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, to remember them not as victims but as heroes. The women willing to risk their lives to keep these laws should inspire us; they are reminders of the importance women of all generations placed in the mikvah, and how it continues to bind us to our roots, especially during the most challenging times... [Click on Article Link for footnotes and sources]

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Conversion Issue in no danger of being resolved soon.

The issue of what constitutes a proper conversion and a proper intent to convert has been a growing problem in recent years, as many people who have made aliyah continue to find out the hard way. Having a conversion in America by a non-ultra-orthodox Rabbi will qualify you to make aliyah. However, many American Jews think that means they are considered Jewish in Israel. They are not. Only conversions performed by American Rabbis on an approved list by the Israel Rabbinate are accepted, and few Modern Orthodox and no other non-ultra-orthodox Rabbis are on that list. The problems in Israel are even greater - the ultra-orthodox Rabbinate has complete control of all matters of family law: marriage, divorce, adoption, custody, etc. Even Jews in Israel are caught in their power, many choosing to go abroad to marry so at least the Israeli government will register them as married. If they cannot prove several generations of having no converts and several generations of religiously observant Jewish mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers, even Jews born in Israel cannot satisfy the Rabbinate. Jews from America, whether natural born or converts, have little chance of having their documentation accepted, presuming they can even come up with several generations worth in the first place. Part of the problem for American Jews, especially Reform Jews, is that they failed to be immersed in a miqvah as part of their conversion process. Having a miqvah conveniently located in Lexington could alleviate this problem for local Jews by Choice who may wish to make aliyah in the future. The other aspect is that the Reform Religion is not accepted as Judaism by the Rabbinate in Israel, due to the failure of Reform Jews to adhere to the premise of matrilinear descent and the premise that Torah observance is a required element of the Jewish religion. Many American Jews object to the Rabbinate's position. The Rabbinate, however, does not care. To try and deal with this problem as it pertains to marriage and conversion, the Israeli government has considered giving people paths other than the Rabbinate for marriages and conversions. Civil marriage has been considered. A more secular conversion board has been considered. But the Rabbinate has not been willing to cede any of their power to control family issues. http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2014/03/as-new-conversion-bill-advances-chief-rabbis-threaten-to-refuse-to-follow-it-and-to-not-recognize-jewish-567.html#more You may be thinking this has nothing to do with you. And perhaps neither you nor any of your descendants will have to deal with the authorities in Israel. But you can't know that for sure. It is in American Jews' best interest to be aware of what is going on and to lobby the Knesset to be mindful of the interests of Jews in America and around the world who may want to make aliyah someday. Maybe even you or your kids. We will keep you posted on developing events. Shalom!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Chabad Mitzvah Minute about Immersing Utensils

Immersing Utensils From: "Chabad.org" Shevat 15, 5774 · January 16, 2014 Do the Kosher Dip in the Mikvah We don’t usually think of the kitchen as a holy space. Yet eating, when done mindfully, is a holy act which renders all your cooking utensils divine instruments. This explains why they need to be immersed in a mikvah―a ritual pool―before use. What: If it comes in direct contact with food or drink, it needs a dip. That includes percolators, measuring cups, and those parts of a blender that touch the food. If it doesn’t come in contact with ready-to-eat food (examples: meat grinders or kneading bowls), dip without a blessing. Same with storage utensils that are not brought to the table. Eating, when done mindfully, is a holy act which renders all your cooking utensils divine instruments. Dip utensils made of metal, glass or Corelle with a blessing. No need to dip wood, stone, paper, bone, unglazed earthenware, plastic, synthetic materials and disposable items, or a utensil that was manufactured and always owned by a Jew. China should be dipped without a blessing. How: Head to your local mikvah. Before the dip, make sure your utensil is clear of dirt, rust or stickers. Those stickers often leave their stickiness behind, so check for that as well. Say: Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the immersion of (a) vessel(s). Totally submerge the utensil in the mikvah water. Loosen your grip to allow the water to reach the utensil’s entire surface all at once. Notes: If your utensil was used for non-kosher food, the dip is not enough. Click here to learn how to make it kosher. Food placed in an un-immersed utensil is still kosher—just remove it from there as soon as possible. Only utensils currently under Jewish ownership require immersion. Utensils that have already been used without immersion still require immersion. No local dish mikvah? There are also certain natural bodies of water where one may be allowed to immerse dishes. Contact a local rabbi for the qualifications.

A Chabat Mitzvah Minute regarding Miqvah

The Mikvah From: "Chabad.org" Tishrei 28, 5774 · October 2, 2013 A spa for the soul There’s a building whose construction takes precedence over a synagogue. In fact, a synagogue may be sold to raise funds for this building. This is a mikvah, a ritual pool constructed according to the exact specifications outlined in Jewish law. Immersion in a mikvah effects an elevation in status. Its waters have the power to spiritually transform and produce metamorphosis. The primary function of the mikvah today is its use in the observance of the Jewish “Family Purity” laws. Following her monthly menstrual cycle, a woman immerses in the mikvah, spiritually refreshing and spiritually boosting herself and her relationship with her husband and with the entire household. The Basics Many use this holy moment for personal communication with G‑d. From the onset of menstruation until seven days after its end, couples may not engage in any direct physical contact, or even physical manifestations of affection. After nightfall of the seventh day, the woman visits the mikvah. Today’s mikvah looks like a fashionable spa: luxurious bath and powder rooms, vanities, fresh towels, disposable slippers, a comfortable robe and all the other essentials. The aesthetic beauty of the facility, along with the rejuvenation and spiritual boost experienced, explains why the mikvah is frequented by many who practice no other formal Jewish observance. After a relaxing and thorough bathing, the woman then enters the pristine, warm mikvah waters. After immersing, while still in the mikvah, the woman recites a special blessing. Many use this holy moment for personal prayer and communication with G‑d. After immersion, the couple resumes marital relations. Some Details: 1. A woman first immerses in the mikvah before her wedding. 2. For the postmenopausal woman, one final immersion offers purity for the rest of her life. 3. Mikvah is not required during pregnancy and nursing, as long as there is no menstrual flow. Mikvah.org has more information, and a worldwide directory and virtual tours of mikvahs around the world. See also our Family Purity section for more info. The above is only a basic and very incomprehensive treatment of this subject. Studying with a woman experienced in this field is the way to gain familiarity with this mitzvah. Your rabbi’s wife will be able to refer you to someone who can give you personal instruction.

There and back again.

Full Circle Mikvah.org ...I was involved in the Partners in Torah program. When the three mitzvahs for women came up, I had to know what they were. (I was the annoying “but why” type of child, and never outgrew it) So, I found out there was such a thing as a mikvah, and I wanted to go. ...I lived in rural middle Georgia. The nearest mikvah was about 100 miles away in Atlanta... ...When I got to the mikvah, I was so nervous, so afraid. I have never felt more out of place, more embarrassed, more stupid. Everything was unimaginable to me.... The nearest operational Miqvah to us is in Cincinnati. If you would like to go, but are nervous, by all means contact me at miqvah@windstream.net and I will be happy to accompany you.

Green Miqvah Tech

Jerusalem Introduces Water Recycling In Ritual Baths By Tal Sandler (translation) March 28, 2012 The water at the mikveh (ritual bath) of Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood in Jerusalem will soon be recycled, thanks to an advanced water recycling system, the first of its kind in Israel. The project is expected to save approximately 5 million liters of water per year. ...“In the reality we live in, every drop of water is precious. It is of huge importance to recycle the water in the Mikvehs,” explains Alex Weisman, CEO of Moriah. “We believe that the pilot will succeed and that Jerusalem will be a water saving model for other cities.”

A pool of meaning.

A New Kind of Mikveh In New York City Revitalizing the mikveh experience for a new generation of Jews By Chavie Lieber October 3, 2013 2:49 PM ...“There are many connotations around the mikveh: some people don’t know about it, and some view it in a negative way, while others have beautiful experiences,” said Rabbi Sara Luria, who launched the program in October 2012. “We are trying to say the mikveh is a pool, and we imbue it with meaning. There are enough barriers associated with the mikveh, and we want to lower those barriers and teach people they can mark a life experience in a Jewish way.”