By Michael Jacobs | firstname.lastname@example.org
The living waters of a rainstorm enhanced the groundbreaking Sunday, May 17, for a place where anyone in the Jewish community can be immersed in the living waters of a mikvah.
About 50 people attended the ceremony in front of Congregation B’nai Torah, where the Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah, or MACoM, will be built over the summer to open soon after the High Holidays. The acronym is a play on the Hebrew word for place, B’nai Torah Rabbi Josh Heller said, because the new mikvah will be a place where the Atlanta Jewish community can come together.
The idea is for the mikvah to be the rare transdenominational sacred space, a place available to any Jew for any purpose, Alice Wertheim, the incoming MACoM board president, said during a mikvah learning session before the groundbreaking.
“I think this mikvah generates a feeling of community for all Jews,” MACoM financial backer Mike Leven said. He said such community enhancements support his primary concern, the survival of the Jewish people.
Matching the traditional seven immersions of a mikvah visit, MACoM had seven groups take turns shoveling dirt: Rabbis Alvin Sugarman, Judith Beiner, Elana Perry, Erin Boxt, Brad Levenberg, Loren Lapidus and Heller; Leven and his son Rob; representatives of Atlanta Capital Bank, which is financing the construction; representatives of Congregation Etz Chaim; members of the mikvah education and outreach group; representatives of B’nai Torah; and members of the MACoM board.
Each group delivered a reading and blessing focused on a specific aspect of the community mikvah, such as celebration, welcoming, learning and inclusion.
Those aspects echoed the pre-groundbreaking discussion, led by Tracie Bernstein, wife of Congregation Gesher L’Torah’s Rabbi Michael Bernstein. She talked about the physical and spiritual elements of using a mikvah, which Jewish men and women have done for thousands of years to achieve purification.
The words participants used to describe the mikvah included cleansing, separation, transition, renewal, positive, and, thanks to Rabbi Heller, plumbing.
Photos – MACoM Groundbreaking