Mayyim Hayyim's First Born

Written by Anita Diamant

There’s a new mikveh in Raleigh!

I was in North Carolina a few weeks ago and Rabbi Jenny Solomon gave us a tour – “us” being me, my husband Jim, who is a Mayyim Hayyim mikveh guide, and my daughter Emilia, who was a Mayyim Hayyim intern long before we opened our doors. (Sometimes it feels like mikveh is the family business.)

Rabbi Jenny Solomon

Libi Eir – Awakened Heart – is housed at Temple Beth Meyer, a large Conservative synagogue, and is committed to serving all the Jews of “the Triangle,” which comprises Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill – and beyond.  Local rabbis no longer have to drive two hours to use a mikveh for conversions. “It’s beautiful,” says Rabbi Lucy Dinner, senior rabbi of Temple Beth Or, the large Reform congregation in town.  “Really beautiful.” I agree and the pictures I took don’t do it justice.

Libi Eir is located on the ground floor of the synagogue’s newly renovated education building and includes a reception area, a fully stocked bathroom, and one pristine mikveh, which glows like a sapphire thanks to the cobalt blue tiles. There’s a separate entrance to insure privacy and a room for celebrations and study right next to the mikveh; across the hall, rabbis can meet with conversion candidates in a private beit din room. The first art show is already hanging, creating a bright visual through-line.

If this sounds Mayyim Hayyim-ish that’s because Libi Eir is, as Rabbi Solomon says, our “daughter.”

Our first-born.

Mayyim Hayyim provided consultation and resources during the planning and construction of the Raleigh mikveh. Rabbi Solomon and lay leaders attended our mikveh conference last year and Libi Eir’s mikveh guides are trained using our “Guide My Steps” curriculum.

Needless to say, this leaves me feeling … verklempt.

From the beginning, I dreamed that Mayyim Hayyim would inspire other communities to build beautiful and fully inclusive mikvaot.  I imagined that they would share a similar vision and values and that they would learn from our successes and mistakes –no need to reinvent the wheel.

I also thought that each mikveh would be different from us, reflecting the architecture and culture of its city, the way Mayyim Hayyim is of New England.

But Libi Eir adds something new to the mikveh landscape. Because this is a mikveh built and underwritten by one synagogue that, from the start, made a radical and holy commitment to community ownership, also known as Klal Yisrael. The Libi Eir brochure lists six other congregational partners from different movements.

Libi Eir has been our student, is now a colleague, and will, I have no doubt have lessons to teach us.

Kol HaKavod. All honor to them.

Anita Diamant is one of the founders and the president of Mayyim Hayyim. She is the author of 12 books, including The Red Tent, Day After Night, The New Jewish Wedding, and Choosing a Jewish Life.

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