Tidewater Jewish community to celebrate new mikvah

by | Oct 27, 2022 | Trending News

Sunday, November 20, 12–2 pm

It’s really extraordinary.

Why would a group of New Yorkers help Virginians build a new mikvah in Ghent? The answer: because, they understood the need.

In 2019, after years of dealing with Ghent’s outdated mikvah, ground was broken for a new facility with the help of Mikvah USA, which has built (or remodeled) more than 100 mikvahs­­—from Boulder, Colorado, to Birmingham, Alabama.

Brooklyn, New York-based Mikvah USA assists smaller communities throughout the United States build modern and inviting mikvahs. They offer practical assistance, financial grants, fundraising assistance, halachic guidance, and more, with the goal of making mikvah observance “easy and appealing,” according to their website, mikvahusa.org.

If a community wants to observe the Torah’s laws of taharas hamishpacha, or family purity, these generous Jews are here for them.

The difference in Norfolk is remarkable. Now, the Ghent mikvah boasts a new wing with two beautiful new baths/showers and a new bor tevila (mikvah).

Sarah Lipman, a liaison between Tidewater’s Jewish community and Mikvah USA, says, “When we approached Mikvah USA for guidance, they gave us a major grant and helped us design and construct a mikvah that is both beautiful and conforms to the highest standards of Jewish law. We really couldn’t have done it without them.”

Rabbi Sender and Chamie Haber, revered rabbi and rebbetzin emeritus of B’nai Israel Congregation, as well as Kevin Lefcoe, Sarah Lipman, Rabbi Sholom Mostofsky, Rabbi Shmuel Katz of the Norfolk Community Kollel, and Gershon Aronoff, worked tirelessly with Mikvah USA to make the dream of a fully updated and enhanced mikvah in Ghent a reality.

Mikvah USA’s mandate underscores the profound teaching of Jewish tradition: constructing a kosher mikvah takes precedence over building any other religious institution in a city. Even shuls and schools come second.

The new mikvah will be named Mikvah Taharas Chaya for Chaya Weber, of blessed memory. Mikvah USA says that Weber tragically passed away unexpectedly at the age of 52, close to three years ago.

“She was a wonderful woman whose outstanding trait was that her heart totally connected with the people around her. She deeply related to people, shared in their joy, and felt their pain. Her children’s education was paramount to her, and each one of her five children was treated as a unique individual, just like an only child. She lived to help others and is sorely missed.”

Local Jewish women and visitors will enjoy a luxurious, elegant experience in Mikvah Taharas Chaya, while bringing blessing to the community by observing this foundational mitzvah.

On behalf of Mikvah Taharas Chaya, Esty Gruen and Sarah Lipman invite men and women of all Jewish backgrounds and affiliations to attend the chanukas habayis, or formal inauguration, of Mikvah Taharas Chaya for a festive brunch, words of inspiration from Mikvah USA leadership, and a tour of the new mikvah.

The Mikvah is located at 420 Spotswood Avenue in Norfolk.

For more information or to help sponsor this event, email mikvahnorfolk@gmail.com.

-Noach Gruen