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November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
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My Machberes

Rabbi Nissen Telushkin, zt”l (1881-1970), author of Taharas Mayim, believed Rabbi Miller’s thesis was unfairly scorned. Rabbi Telushkin maintained that the observance of the mitzvah of mikveh would have been far more widely observed in this country had rabbis not been so quick to condemn Rabbi Miller. In fact, Rabbi Telushkin has a rather lengthy treatment in his sefer of the New York City water system and makes mention of Rabbi Miller’s ideas as having some validity, referring to Rabbi Miller as a “gavra rabbah [great person] who dedicated his life to strengthening the observance of taharat hamishpachain this country.”

Do We Need More Mikvehs?

The Rema (Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 163:3), citing the Mahari Mintz (#7), requires the entire community to fund the building and maintenance of a public mikveh. This obligation pertains as well to those who do not use a mikveh themselves. The Chofetz Chaim in his Kuntress Ma’amorim (p.26) clearly states that building a mikveh (where there is none) takes priority over the building of a shul (where there is none), and precedes the purchase of a sefer Torah (where there is none).

Further, the Chazon Ish (Yorah Deah 1:23:5) calls for a mikveh to be maintained at the highest possible standards of aesthetics and cleanliness. Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Igros Moshe, Choshen Mishpat 1:42), finds that the obligation of building a mikveh applies when another mikveh is not within walking distance. This becomes incumbent when there is no mikveh within a two-mile radius (ibid. 1:40).

Mikvah U.S.A. is one of the leading organizations in the building of new mikvehs in the United States, participating in the building of kosher mikvehs in, among other locales, Ashland, Oregon; Bakersfield, California; East Denver, Colorado; Dayton, Ohio; Dunwoody, Georgia; Fairfield, Connecticut; Hillside, New Jersey; Irvine, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Port Washington, New York; Springfield, New Jersey; Stamford, Connecticut; and Yorba Linda, California.

And the organization has more than 100 additional applications for financial and design assistance in the building of mikvehs. Several of the projects are well underway. The organization, headquartered at 1461 42nd Street in Brooklyn, is led by Rabbi Yitzchok Bistritsky, Rabbi Shlomo Frand, Rabbi Yoel Israel, and Hershel Indig. Mrs. Shifra Grinblatt is the unheralded secretary and anchor of this organization.

Mikvah.org is a project of Taharas Hamishpacha International, presenting a deeper understanding of mikveh to families worldwide. Mikvah.org is dedicated to promoting and strengthening the observance of Taharas Hamishpacha, thus ensuring Jewish continuity. Mikvah.org is outstanding in encouraging and assisting in the building of mikvehs and reports extensively on mikvehs that were recently built, just completed, or presently under construction.

Mikvah.org publicizes many facets of mikveh and family sanctity. Its Internet directory of mikvehs around the globe is the most complete available; its wide range of stories, essays, and articles are absolutely inspiring; and the organization offers items that are sure to enhance the mikvehexperience. Their Taharas Hamishpacha International is a division of Chabad-Lubavitch.

Westport/Norwalk Mikveh

Established in 1906, Beth Israel of Westport/Norwalk, Connecticut, is currently the epicenter of a population of more than 10,000 Jewish families. Led by Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht since 1984, the shul is a bastion of outreach. Rabbi Hecht is also the long-serving president of the Rabbinical Council of New England.

Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht

In 2007, Israeli Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger encouraged the establishment of a community mikveh in Westport/Norwalk that would cater to the needs of today’s Jewish women, offering the opportunity of a deeply moving religious experience. Rabbi Metzger was introduced to this mikveh project – Mikveh Chana-Mei Leiba – at a special reception held by the Rabbinical Alliance of America at Congregation B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Brooklyn.

The mikveh must be a gorgeous facility, a spa for the body as well as the soul. As such, the mikveh will serve as a powerful magnet drawing women to the fullness of Judaism, guaranteeing the purity of future generations.

The Westport/Norwalk area boasts beautiful homes and high-income families. One of the great spiritual leaders of Beth Israel was the much beloved Rabbi Israel Yavne, zt”l, who was responsible for the relocation of the synagogue from downtown South Norwalk to its present location in the beautiful tree-lined area of King Street on the Norwalk/Westport town line.

A functioning mikveh in the Norwalk area was originally built as early as 1875, but in 1955 the mikveh that was located in the basement of the old beautiful South Norwalk shul was filled in due to disuse and disinterest. Rabbi Hecht has assumed the mission of seeing the new mikveh materialize. In addition, his father, Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Share Zion of Brooklyn and president of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, has contributed a substantial sum to hurry its development from planning to reality.

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