The Mikvah bath, once the sole preserve of Orthodox Jews, is being adopted and changed by Conservative and Reform synagogues, reports Moment magazine (April).
The bath’s primary function is to ritually purify converts to Judaism, and is also used by Orthodox Jewish women at the end of menstruation as taught by Jewish family purity laws. Reform and Conservative synagogues that have recently taken up traditional rituals have built their own baths to welcome converts because Orthodox rabbis don’t allow the non-Orthodox to use their facilities.
But increasingly, the non-Orthodox are adapting the baths to non-traditional uses. Jewish feminists use Mikvah baths to celebrate life cycle events, such as marriage, or for healing after divorce or abortion. Thus the traditionally impure status given to menstruating women is being turned on its head, says Tamara Cohen of the Jewish Women’s Project in New York.
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