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Mikvah

A curated online anthology of Lilith’s most fascinating mikvah-related articles, culled from the magazine’s voluminous archives. This collection includes first-person accounts and analysis of the traditional women’s ritual practice of monthly immersion prior to resuming sexual contact after menstruation, plus narratives of women using mikvah to mark major life changes like divorce or a name change, and reports on using the mikvah for healing, for gender transition, and after recovery from grave illness.

Mikvah Becomes Mainstream?
by Melanie Weiss
Winter 2006-2007
The Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (an organization of Conservative rabbis) tries to articulate a Conservative movement stance on the issue of mikvah.

Mikvahs Are Hot
by Alice Sparberg Alexiou

Summer 2002
In your grandmothers day, it was only Orthodox women who still went to the mikvah every month. But now, women from all over the Jewish spectrum are reclaiming and reshaping this ancient rite.

Rhythms of the Blood
by C. Devora Hammer
Spring 2003
Sex in an Orthodox marriage revolves around the laws of niddah—or the laws of menstruation—which require, among other things, that women visit the mikvah monthly. The author discusses the evolution of her feelings toward niddah and the mikvah through years of marriage, births, and childrearing. 

Immerse and Emerge: Revisiting the Mikvah
by Julie Sugar
December 19, 2011
Newly divorced, the author prepares for Yom Kippur by visiting the mikvah for herself—not for her marriage—for the first time…and decides to submerge twenty-seven times.

Take Back the Waters 
by Rabbi Elyse M. Goldstein 
Summer 1986
A Reform rabbi participates in a feminist reappropriation of the mikvah.

New Scholarship on Why Women Love Mikvah
by Susan Sapiro
Summer 1998
On Charlotte Fonrobert and Jane Rothstein’s important academic research.

Seven-Day Spa
by Sarah Greenberg
Spring 2008
Ethiopian menstrual traditions in 21st-century Israel.

Working the Mikveh
fiction by Amy Gottlieb
Spring 2005
“Chani immerses so beautifully; she was born for this kind of holiness. First she dips once and I declare her immersion kosher. She mutters a blessing and catches her breath. Two more dips. Kosher. Kosher.”

Post-Election Cleansing
by Amy Stone
Winter 2004-2005
After the Bush election, “the ritual of the mikvah felt right.”

Before Marrying Again…
by Jordana Horn
Winter 2010-2011
She didn’t go before her first wedding, so why is she at the mikveh now?

In the Image of God
by Danya Ruttenberg
Spring 2002
Transgender Jews use powerful mikveh rituals to mark gender change.

Try This: A Health Library in the Mikveh…
by Nechama Liss-Levinson
Spring 1999
A women’s health library at the mikveh offers women a way to overcome the shame, anxiety and financial constraints that might prevent them from buying these books at the bookstore or taking them out from the library.

Submergence
by Esther Moritz
Winter 2008-2009
Submerged in the mikveh, the author finally breaks free of her mother’s metaphorical grasp.

Hot Springs Mikveh
by Marna Sapsowitz
Summer 1992
Two Jews-by-choice and their funky feminist rabbi pack hiking shoes and a bracha for a dip in the hot springs of the Pacific Northwest.

Mastectomy: Twelve Months After Surgery
by Jerilyn Goodman
Fall 1995 
The author commemorates the first anniversary of her mastectomy with a mikveh immersion ceremony. (Ceremony included.)

Women Rabbis on Miscarriage
by Susan Schnur
Fall 1991
A visit to the mikveh could be part of a formal Jewish ritual response to miscarriage.

The End of a Love Story
by Naomi Danis
Spring 1998
Mikveh as a purifying and healing ritual after family violence.