A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting Mayyim Hayyim for the first time with Wellesley College Hillel. At the beginning of the education program, Leeza asked what we hoped to learn from the session. I shared that I was most interested in learning whether the ritual of mikveh immersion is, or can be, feminist.
As a women’s studies major at a women’s college, it should come as no surprise that I identify strongly as a feminist. And, as a Reform Jew with a very elementary Jewish education, it should come as no surprise that when I first learned about the mikveh ritual, I thought for sure that it was anti-feminist. Any ritual based on cleansing women of their “impurities” must be misogynistic, I thought. Nonetheless, when I learned that Hillel was visiting Mayyim Hayyim, I signed up right away. I had only heard about the mikveh ritual secondhand and decided it was time for me to learn about it myself.