long island

At LI’s newest mikvah, waiting for rain to come


Long Island’s newest mikvah was dedicated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday. Now, all that stands between it and its furthance of tahara mishpacha is a small amount of additional rainwater.

Hopefully, "it will rain before The Jewish Star comes out," said Rabbi Shimon Kramer of Bellmore’s Chabad Center for Jewish Life. [And it did! It rained early Wednesday morning as the Star's print edition was on its way to newsstands.]

“Today is the holiest day in Merrick,” he said on Sunday. “From 1643, Merrick has been waiting for a mikvah.

The Mei Leah Merrick-Bellmore mikvah is a modern, deluxe facility — its construction supervisor called it “a very high tech mikvah” — that fulfills a vital need in every Torah-observant community; as several speakers pointed out, a community may sell its only Torah scroll to raise money in order to build one.

South Bellmore resident Gayle Benno, a mother of three who was affiliated with a Reform temple when she grew up in Massapequa, recounted how her life was “touched and blessed by using the mikvah.”

“I feel reborn, emotionally calm and powerful after each visit,” she said. “Keeping these practices now helps sustain my marriage … and helps us to continue to let G-d in.”

Rebbetzin Chaya Teldon of Chabad of Mid-Suffolk in Commack, joked that the new facility is so nice that it was featured on the cover of “Better Homes and Mikvahs.”

She called mikvah “the touchtone of Jewish life” whose “waters can purify.”

“The assault on marriage today is unparalled. Mikvah is a tangible way to sancify that relationship,” she said.

“For those of you who have never been surrounded by the calm, healing waters of the mikvah, I challenge you — experience this ultimate feminine mitzvah. It’s truly a spa for your soul,” Rebbetzin Teldon said.

Steve Gage, the mikvah’s construction supervisor, discussed some of the technical requirements for a kosher mikvah, observing that “the laws of mikvah make the laws of kashrut look simple by comparison.”

“This mikvah has gone through a long and winding math to reality —but it wasn’t until Rabbi Kramer stepped in that this project became a reality,” Gage said.

Gayle Benno challenged the community’s less-observant women to give the new mikvah a try, emphasizing that going to mikvah “is not just for religious women who keep all the Torah laws and mitzvot. It is for all married Jewish women regardless of Judaic background.”

“I am so grateful that our community has its very own mikvah” so that more women can fulfill a mitzvah “that will add blessing, joy and peace into their lives more than they will ever know.”