Rare Mikvah Opens In Dix Hills
The Chai Center in Dix Hills is now home to a mikvah, one of only about 400 in the United States.
A mikvah – a symbolic pool Jewish women use for religious ritual and spiritual renewal – and its surrounding rooms might remind one of a spa, complete with bath and powder rooms. According to The Chai Center’s education director, Zoey Saacks, the purpose of a mikvah is to help women follow the Jewish commandment of family purity. Although a woman refreshes herself for the revival of her marriage and her relationship with her husband, benefits reach the entire family.
The Chai Center’s mikvah, which opened last month, contains two beautiful wash rooms with lavish tile. Each contains a top-of-the-line shower, bath, sink, soaps, a fresh robe and clean towels. Before a woman enters the mikvah, she must be completely clean so the water stays pure.
“In an informal survey, we found most ladies weren’t even aware of what a mikvah is,” Rabbi Yackov Saacks said. “Having one here makes it enticing.”
In Hebrew, the word “mikvah” literally means a gathering of water. A mikvah can either be natural or manmade, and must contain rainwater. It is cleaned and filtered like a pool. At the Dix Hills mikvah, bromine is used instead of chlorine to avoid a strong smell.
A blue and beige color scheme in The Chai Center’s mikvah room evokes a sense of peacefulness, and a prayer is illustrated on one of the walls across from the mikvah.
The rainwater of the basin is collected from the rooftop of The Chai Center and carried into a water tank through plastic pipes. Plastic materials are used in the process of collecting the water and filling the mikvah so the water makes no contact with metal. In the Jewish faith, metal is used in war, and a mikvah must be a completely pure place.
Any married Jewish woman can make an appointment to use The Chai Center’s mikvah. Only one woman is scheduled at a time. Appointments usually last about an hour.
There are fewer than 10 mikvahs on Long Island. The Chai Center’s mikvah took about two years to construct and cost more than $230,000, most of which came from community donations. An organization called Mikvah USA also aided with the project.
“It’s like reigniting the passion [in a marriage],” Rabbi Saacks said of a mikvah. “It does wonders for a couples’ love life.”