Mountain Mikvah

Mountain Mikvah

 A long process of eight years took me to a Beis Din in New York and, soon after that, to the mikvah. Thursday, the 29th of April 2010, finally brought to fruition, my deepest wish, one that I had strived towards  for the previous couple of years: to be Jewish, to return my stolen identity from the horrible claws of the Inquisition and be closer to Hashem.

Mikvah was one of the most important subjects of my studies. Mikvah is an exquisite art. Not only can the mikvah bring a person to the final step towards becoming a part of Klal Israel (following a lengthy process and the directives of a Beis Din of course), but it also allowed me to be reborn. The waters of the Gan Eden purified me completely and I emerged as a new person.

My first encounter with a mikvah was a place with four walls, a closed bathroom, warm water and a roof. Complete comfort. I remember the balanit (attendant) waiting for me and giving me the warmest hug whispering into my ear “Welcome back!” It was special and I wished never to leave this magical place where my life changed forever.

Although I was stuck emotionally to New York, my return to my country was inevitable. Shabbat and Motzaei  Shabbat ended and then I traveled for six hours in a plane, back to the country that I had left, not so long ago, as a totally different person.

It should be no surprise to say that Hashem helped me find a shidduch (match) and the Rosh of the Beis Din arrived a couple of months later to celebrate my chuppah. Before that chuppah, the search for a mikvah began. There were two which he thoroughly checked and after serious consideration, he said we needed to find another option (I didn´t know that there would be the need for a mikvah, not only for me, but for a broader purpose about a year after).

This search for a mikvah took us to the mountains, where clear, river water still runs. At the beginning I was worried, it was far from the very cozy and comfortable sensation that I felt at the mikvah back in New York. It was cold, the water was running, there were small fish and the bottom floor was a mixture of big and small rocks in a steep way to the bottom, where a perfect immersion could be obtained.

My relationship with this mikvah only grew from this point. Being that this country is full of Crypto-Jews and “Anussim” (Jews forced to convert by the Inquisition) who have been practicing Judaism for many years, the Beis Din came back to perform a couple of conversions. This time, I was to be the balanit.

I helped the women get ready for their mikvah experience. Then, due to the nature of the river, I had to actually go into the water with them. I helped each one to join me, in the icy water providing the instructions on how to do the immersion correctly. I called out “AMEN!” to each of their brachot. I hugged them, and cried with them, in happiness for the end of what we call “a second degree exile” (not only being outside of the land of Israel, but knowing that “you are Jewish” and not being able to prove it by any means, therefore, suffering an exile  from the Jewish community as well).

For four hours I entered and emerged from the water to prepare each woman in turn. In and out of the cold water, but somehow, it did not feel cold, I did not get ill.

It was, by far, the greatest experience. Without man-made walls, without the warm water and all the comforts, I was able to re-experience over and over, hand in hand, hug after hug, bracha after bracha what it meant to go into the mikvah and see your life completely change; only surrounded by nature, and the beautiful creations of Hashem.

That day the river was filled with water and filled with tears of joy. -


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