Seven years after construction initially commenced, a state-of-the-art mikvah, or ritual bath, has opened at Chabad of Boca Raton, Fla., bringing the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of family purity to thousands of more families in one of the most densely Jewish areas in the country—and the world.
It may have been slow in coming, but people seem more than happy it’s done and here.
“Jewish tradition has always taught that the source of the sanctity of the Jewish family comes from mikvah,” says Rabbi Moishe Denburg, co-director of Chabad of Boca Raton. “A community is in a sense incomplete without its own mikvah, and we felt that for our community’s own growth—both physical and spiritual—the addition of one was necessary.”
Denburg explains that when his community first constructed their building in 1999, they left space for the eventual creation of a mikvah. “At the time, the local Modern Orthodox Boca Raton Synagogue was building its own mikvah and asked that we hold off on building ours.”
In order to accommodate more people, the Boca Raton Synagogue—about a 20-minute ride from Chabad—even built one of their mikvahs according to Chabad specifications. But now, 14 years later, Denburg felt it was time that his growing community at long last have a mikvah of its own.
“There are many days when we cannot travel, and as we grew it became apparent that another mikvah was needed,” he says.
Aside from the Boca Raton Synagogue’s mikvah and one at Chabad of Boynton Beach, this will be the third in an area that stretches from Coral Springs to the south all the way north to West Palm Beach, home to some 150,000 Jewish residents.
Following Chassidic tradition, many men have the custom to immerse in a mikvah as well; as such, a separate men’s facility was included in the construction.
Rivkah Denburg, co-director of Chabad of Boca Raton, who from the tiles to the curtains was instrumental in the interior design, says that creating a serene facility was an important part of construction.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—spoke of the vital importance of a mikvah to sustaining Jewish family life, often instructing his emissaries that it be the first major project they undertook. Mikvah is deemed so integral a part of Jewish communal life that Jewish law even allows for a community to sell their Torah scrolls to finance the construction of one.
The Rebbe also stressed that a mikvah be aesthetic to the eye and well-maintained, encouraging women to use it.
Denburg’s wife, Rivkah, who from the tiles to the curtains was instrumental in the interior design, says that creating a serene facility was an important part of construction.
‘A Really Beautiful Place’
“We wanted it to really be a beautiful place,” she says, “and ensure that the women who are coming to use it have a very special and beautiful experience.”
Wendy Alcalay, 35, is one of the first women to have used the new mikvah, which she describes as “beautiful and so convenient.”
“It felt like going to a spa,” she says. “I wasn’t rushed at all, it was relaxing, and everything was new and really nice.”
The preparation room and entrance to the Boca Raton mikvah
Alcalay explains that the mikvah experience was her first since her marriage 10 years ago, and “it was a really positive experience. I plan on using it monthly from now on.”
Rivkah Denburg notes another level of excitement among area women who are first discovering this unique and spiritual mitzvah.
“We’ve always given classes, and taught the halachos of Jewish married life to brides and married women, but this has added another push for people to come and learn about mikvah. A woman just texted me saying how excited she is to use the new mikvah.
“There are women who have been married for many years expressing a lot of interest. The fact that we now have our own mikvah has brought out a tremendous amount of awareness and excitement.”
Alcalay agrees with Denburg’s observation. “Just yesterday, I was at lunch and discussing the experience, and people were really interested in how it was. They didn’t realize that there was a mikvah here. I really think that people will start going more.”