Four years after the Atlanta Jewish community opened the Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah, this week the city is hosting the annual Rising Tide Conference.
The Nov. 10-12 gathering will provide an opportunity for supporters of mikvaot to share best practices and connect with colleagues. MACoM is the only mikvah in Atlanta available to the entire Jewish community, regardless of affiliation, observance level, sexual orientation or capacity for physical mobility.
Best-selling author Anita Diamant will speak at the conference, where the winners of the My Jewish Ritual: Creative Arts and Writing Contest will be recognized. Diamant, who is best known for her book, “The Red Tent,” is judging the contest.
Diamant is particularly appropriate for both tasks. She is one of the founders of Mayyim Hayyim, a community mikveh in Boston started in 2004, and was instrumental in the establishment of MACoM.
“I was one of the founders of the open mikveh movement,” Diamant told the AJT in a phone interview from her Boston home. “MACoM is built on this model.”
A mikvah is a pool of water that is used for Jewish ritual immersion and purification. Prior to MACoM, the only mikvah in Atlanta available to Conservative and Reform Jews was located at Congregation B’nai Torah. But after 28 years, it was closed in the summer of 2015.
According to MACoM Executive Director Jocelyn Schorvitz, “The B’nai Torah mikvah needed repairs and updates. A community decision was made to create a mikvah for the whole community, where all Jewish congregations in Atlanta would be a part. MACoM is its own entity, simply leasing land on the B’nai Torah property.”
In fiscal 2019, MACoM hosted about 100 conversions and was used for some 400 immersions, she said.
Diamant “has been a driving force behind the Open Waters Mikveh movement, the movement to modernize the integral and ancient ritual of mikvah and to open the mikvah to all Jews for a range of personal, halachic and spiritual needs,” Schorvitz said.
The New York Times best-selling author said she is excited about judging the Creative Arts and Writing Contest. “It’s not limited to writing. It’s based on creativity,” Diamant said. “Kids today express themselves in different ways. This generation has many tools.” In fact, submissions could be in the form of an essay, poem, short story, graphic story, song, video, drawing, painting or multi-media. Winners of the contest will receive $100, a plaque and an immersion gift certificate at the celebration, which will be held at B’nai Torah.
Diamant said she has judged writing contests before, “but never a children’s contest.”
She also told the AJT that the first time she visited a mikvah was before her wedding. She was in the process of writing a book about Jewish weddings. “I felt like an anthropologist,” she said.
Over the past few years, Diamant has updated three of her books about Jewish Life. “The Jewish Wedding Now” was renamed from the earlier edition of “The New Jewish Wedding.” She also revised “Choosing a Jewish Life,” a handbook about conversion to Judaism, and “Saying Kaddish.”
“The Red Tent,” which was published in 1997, is a novel that tells the story of an often-overlooked biblical character, Dinah, who was the only daughter of Jacob and Leah. It has since been published in more than 25 countries.
Other novels she’s written include “The Boston Girl,” “Good Harbor,” “The Last Days of Dogtown” and “Day After Night.”
“I am interested in women’s stories,” she said. Her next book focuses on “menstrual justice,” which she calls a global movement to help girls without access to tampons or pads, and who thus, drop out of school.