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Author:  Michelle
E-mail:  not available
Date:  7/2/2004 10:15:00 AM
Subject:  Mikvot
Message:  Dear Rabbi Abadi,

Thank G-d I am pregnant now, but when I first got married, I went to the local mikvah, armed with my mikvah book from Rabbi Abadi.

I am Sephardic, and we dip a little different. My husband had given me specific directions, in addition, from his rabbi--which coincided with Rabbi Abadi's book.

I followed the directions exactly, but the Mikvah lady was very upset. She told me that my dipping wasn't kosher because I didn't do it the way she wanted me to do it.

Then, when I went to get dressed, she called me on the telephone in the room and said she had "contacted THE Sephardic 'Rov' in the area, a Posek", she intoned with authority, and I had "done the mivah all wrong." I was shocked! How dare she call for a P'sk when I didn't ask for it--and from a rabbi I had no knowledge of!! I explained we had our own way, I showed her my book, I explained my husband's instructions--but she told me I was wrong, and this wasn't the way that Sephardim did mikvah. I explained that the "Rov" she had consulted was from a different Sephardic tradition (in fact, he was Persian, and my family is Spanish). She wouldn't have it, and had her "assistant"--who was presented to me as Sephardic--tell me that is not how SHE does mikvah.

Now imagine, this was my FIRST experience at a public mikvah (my wedding Mikvah was in a small natural body of water).

I was in tears, crying. I didn't feel "cleansed" at all!! It was horrible!!

I told my husband that I didn't ever want to return there again, and if there was no other mikvah, I would find a lake or a river--even in midwinter.

He found me another, a small place in a conservative synagogue with a mikvah authorized by a local orthodox rabbi.

I worry that many of these "Mikvah Ladies" are way out of line, and are responsible for many of the sins of the women who do not return to mikvah at all. They carry a great responsiblity--not only to the Mikvah, but to the community-to ENCOURAGE women to keep mikvah. Which is a greater sin--allowing a woman to do a kosher dip which is not to the Mikvah lady's liking, or berating that women into never returning to the mikvah?

Reply:  You are among thousands of women treated this way. Something like this just happened to someone I know this past Shabbat. It must be stopped. Women do not need to go to these places. Every community has an alternative of something. Ask around, or ask me and we'll get you hooked up to a people friendly Mikveh.

What a shame.

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