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.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some interesting notes about a miqvah immersion.

From a Chabad article about Miqvah:

Immersing in a Mikvah (Ritual Pool)
Positive Commandment 109

The 109th mitzvah is that we are commanded to immerse in the waters of a mikvah...

The source of this commandment is G‑d's statement, "[The person wishing to enact the mitzvah] must immerse the entire body in water." ...This is the minimum size of a mikvah unless the water is from a spring, in which case there is no minimum amount, as explained in the laws which deal with this mitzvah...

When looking at some of the sample photos of various miqvah facilities, it is hard from the pictures to tell the size of the pool. Not including the "resevior" of water which goes down some feet below the pool, the pool itself is not that deep - only about five feet or so. The steps in the pool, usually seven, are arranged in such a way as to let a shorter person stand on them if necessary. A taller person may have to bend their knees quite a bit to immerse completely.

The perimeter of the pool does not have to be that large - but we would like the facility we build to have a lift for those who are in a wheelchair or walker and cannot navigate the steps. So maybe 10' to a side, perhaps 12' depending on what type of lift we get. It's not really that big.

...The Oral Tradition also explains that during immersion the person must be naked and that the entire body must come in contact with the water. As our Sages put it, "The phrase, 'entire body' teaches that there can be nothing intervening between the body and the water."

It is for this reason that a person must remove nail polish, jewelry, etc., and trim nails and brush your teeth before entering the water. It is customary to bathe at home before coming to the miqvah facility and then taking a quick shower once there to make sure there is no dirt, lint or hair, residues from soaps, lotions, or shampoos still stuck to you, which get into the miqvah water. Also, having your hair already wet makes it much easier to get it to behave and go completely under the water. Even your hair must be completely immersed in order for the mitzvah to be properly enacted.

Unlike "baptism" as practiced by other religions, Jewish immersion is not usually done with any sort of clothing. Don't worry - nobody is going to see you naked. If you need witnesses for your immersion (such as for a conversion), the witnesses will wait until you enter the water up to your neck and then enter the room. The room is not lit so brightly that visibility beneath the water is a problem. Once you have immersed and said your blessings, the witnesses will leave and only then do you exit the pool.

If you are immersing for the purpose of conversion, there is a set blessing that you say. Otherwise, there are beautiful verses and prayers that can be recited or read, depending on your purpose in immersing. Mayyim Hayyim in Massachusetts and other leading facilities have developed moving and poignant rituals for all sorts of life-cycle events, healing and becoming baal teshuvah. And, of course, you can always write your own blessing, appropriate to your beliefs. Miqvah is an intensely personal experience - it's between you and The Eternal. Whatever is meaningful for you and helps you to express your prayers or spiritual yearnings is perfectly fine.

As part of our educational outreach, we hope to work with individuals to create blessings and rituals that express your individuality, as well as developing beautiful traditional and contemporary rituals that anyone can use. This will be part of the services provided by the society for miqvah members and the community at large. We hope this will make each immersion a deeply touching and fulfilling experience.