Shir Ami is only the second Reform Congregation in the United States to house a mikveh. The other is in Detroit. Constructed in 1998 and in operation since early 1999, the mikveh at Shir Ami conforms to all the stringent requirements of traditional Jewish law.
RITUAL AND TRADITION
It is 10 feet by 8 feet, with a depth of just over four and a half feet. There are seven steps leading into the mikveh, the lowest step under water to accommodate shorter people.
The water is heated to 95 degrees, pleasantly warm bath water temperature. There are facilities for bathing and changing, a maintenance area, and a small waiting room.
WHO USES IT?
Many hundreds of individuals from all streams of Judaism have immersed in the mikveh since its inception. About two-thirds are people choosing Judaism (conversions); many are brides or grooms before their wedding. The remainder represent a variety of newer ways of using the mikveh:
• after chemotherapy
• post-divorce closure
• adoptions and naming of infants
• as part of the healing from childhood trauma
• pre-Yom Kippur and Pesach renewals
• celebration of significant life passages – for example, a 50th wedding anniversary
The possibilities are expanding, and the presence of the mikveh allows us to re-examine this ancient Jewish institution and reclaim and recreate ritual with it. The mikveh is staffed by experienced volunteers who assist the rabbis and individuals as needed; the other facilities of Shir Ami – main sanctuary, chapel, space for meditative purposes – are available to all.
The mikveh at Shir Ami is available by appointment only.
Contact the synagogue office at 215-968-3400.
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