Rosalie, a woman from Indiana living with
metastatic breast cancer, heard about the idea of the mikvahs spiritually
cleansing waters. She had never been to a mikvah before, yet she felt compelled
to connect with the spiritual power of this unique mitzvah. She felt a strong
desire to tap into the strength of Jewish women, throughout history, who have
immersed in these waters.
Rosalie spoke with a rabbi, a mikvah
attendant, and Shera Dubitsky,
Sharsherets Clinical Supervisor. She asked that Shera be her guide for this
new experience and flew to New Jersey
within weeks of making this decision.
Her body bore the brunt of her illness;
she had scars from the multiple surgeries that left her without a breast and she
was visibly weak. As Rosalie prepared for immersion, Shera, too, needed to
prepare spiritually and emotionally for the experience. Rosalie emerged from
the room ready for immersion. Shera held Rosalies robe above her eyes so that
she could immerse with dignity and privacy. Rosalie dipped her entire body beneath
the waters and stayed submerged for several moments.
When she emerged, she began to sing Yedid Nefesh (Beloved of the
Soul). Rosalie was an opera singer; a soprano. Hearing Rosalies voice reverberating
off the mikvah walls was one of the most magnificent sounds Shera had ever
heard. Rosalie asked Shera to sing with her and as they sang together, Shera
felt the light of Rosalies soul shine brightly in the room. Shera often wonders
how the other women preparing for mikvah at that time were touched and changed
by hearing Rosalies voice. Once again, she held the robe above her eyes as
Rosalie ascended the steps from the mikvah. She hugged Shera and as she did,
Shera felt Rosalies renewed energy. Rosalie was grateful for this experience.
As they both cried, she whispered in Sheras ear, For the first time in
months, I feel hopeful. There is a plan.
a national organization that supports young Jewish women and families facing
breast and ovarian cancer at every stage- before, during and after diagnosis. Our name,
Sharsheret, means chain in Hebrew and represents the strong nurturing
connections we build to support Jewish women and their families at every stage
of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. We help women and families connect to our
community in the way that feels most comfortable, taking into consideration
their stage of life, diagnosis, or treatment, as well as their connection to
Judaism. We also provide educational
resources and create programs for women and families to improve their quality
of life. Sharsheret is a growing community of women and families. Together, we
are creating a chain of strong links that reaches across the country so that no
woman or family of Jewish descent needs to face the challenges of breast cancer
or ovarian cancer alone.
understand that young Jewish women have unique concerns when it comes to breast
cancer and ovarian cancer, and we are the only organization that specializes in
serving them. Our 11 programs are free
and easy to access, from Boston to Burbank, from Milwaukee to Miami, Sharsheret is
there. Among the services Sharsheret offers are a peer support program, the
opportunity to speak with a genetic counselor about breast cancer gene mutation
concerns, and an educational booklet series about breast cancer and ovarian
cancer including Breast Cancer and the
Ritual Bath: A Guide for Mikvah Attendants, and Facing Breast Cancer as a Jewish Woman.
Rosalies mikvah experience is one
of many stories from Sharsherets community.
Whether returning to the mikvah after breast cancer surgery or using it
for the first time, women often experience a range of emotions. How a mikvah attendant responds to a woman
who has faced breast cancer will often make the difference in how comfortable
she feels. Visit www.sharsheret.org, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us
at 866.474.2774 to learn more about our national programs and order our
educational booklets for your mikvah.