Jun 18 2013
This post is part of Mayim’s month-long series about the Jewish aspects of divorce.
I didn’t grow up knowing anything about the mikveh, the ritual bath religious women enter before their wedding and each month after their menstrual cycle ends. When I learned about it as a teenager, it sounded gross. It sounded like women were treated horribly there, and it sounded like Judaism thought I was dirty and it did not appeal to me at all.
As I increased my Jewish learning at UCLA and specifically through UCLA Hillel, I learned that there were movements of women who were “taking back” mikveh as a transformative and mystical experience. Women who, after divorce or cancer treatment or miscarriage or abortion, were entering the sacred waters to rejuvenate and start again. They were liberating the experience from halachic restrictions and were making a new world of mikveh open to all women. It was beautiful, I thought. Read the rest of this entry →
May 29 2012
I speak all over the country: at synagogues, schools, and homes, at conventions, commencements, and conferences. I love speaking about my journey to being observant-ish, being female, being a scientist, being a mom. I love speaking and I am excited for each and every talk I do.
But the talk I am giving on June 5 at the Riverdale Jewish Center has my heart all aflutter. No, it’s not just that one of the Maccabeats lives in Riverdale and he may come and I may sleep over at his parents’ house and have a slumber party with his sister after the talk (because all of that is totally happening). I’m all excited because the cause for which I am speaking is so fantastic, so amazing, and so meaningful that I literally can’t believe I get to be a part of it. Read the rest of this entry →
May 10 2012
Mayyim Hayyim in Newton, MA. Credit: Tom Kates
I spoke about the mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) at the Silicon Valley JCC last weekend. This happens to be the mikveh that serves people like my adorable mother-in-law (who used this mikveh when she joined the Jewish faith almost five years ago), and it was a real pleasure to speak in front of her and some of my other Bay Area family.
I was asked to speak on the history, meaning, significance, and usage of the mikveh, a talk I have never given before. It’s a daunting task to speak about mikveh in a non-Orthodox setting, largely because I hold to the restrictions and halachos (traditional Jewish laws) known collectively as Taharat HaMishpacha (the laws of niddah), which many people in Reform and Conservative circles reject.
Here’s a rundown of the talk and a little about my personal experience with the mikveh. Read the rest of this entry →