A new women's mikvah was unveiled about 1,378 feet below sea level at the village of Neot Hakikar just south of the Dead Sea. Built with public funding and under the direction of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Yaakov Mendelzohn, the mikvah – deemed to be the lowest on earth – will also serve the neighboring community of Ein Tamar and the scattered desert hamlets in Israel's Arava region, including Ein Hazava and Ein Ofarim.

Mendelzohn, who serves as the rabbi of Neot Hakikar and Ein Tamar, also runs the Lubavitch kollel in Arad, an hour away and where he and his wife Chani live. He started the mikvah project two years ago with the help of an assistant, and insured that it be built according to the most stringent of Jewish legal requirements.

"The mikvah is built at a very high standard and is very fancy," said Chani Mendelzohn, who added that residents have already begun using the facility. To coincide with last week's opening of the mikvah, Mendelzohn began a new class on Judaism's laws of family purity, which delineate the proper times for a woman to ritually purify herself by submerging in a mikvah.

Because of the close proximity to Dead Sea resort hotels, the mikvah is expected to serve tourists as well as locals.