JUNE 1, 2017 — SWAMPSCOTT — For the first time in decades, a new mikvah is being constructed on the North Shore.
Earlier this week, workers poured the foundation for the immersion bath that will be built on the first floor of a house on Phillips Street, behind Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore.
“The mikvah will be a transformative catalyst for renewal and spirituality on the North Shore,” said Chabad’s Rabbi Yossi Lipsker, who is overseeing the mikvah project, and expects it to open just before Rosh Hashanah. “Judaism uses water to denote change and transformation, and a mikvah has the power to transform not only the individuals who use it, but the entire community. We invite people to be a part of this exciting new sacred space that will bring renewed spiritual energy to our Jewish community.”
The mikvah marks another milestone for Lipsker, who arrived in Swampscott 25 years ago, and has gradually expanded Chabad. In 1992, he set up a small sanctuary and Hebrew School over a convenience store and eventually moved the synagogue to its current home on Burrill Street. He also helped set up Chabad in Peabody, and his outreach extends through Marblehead, Salem, Lynn, Everett and other North Shore communities.
According to Lipsker, the project has taken five years to reach the construction phase, and the estimated cost will be $360,000. “We are fortunate to have received a $100,000 grant from Mikvah USA and a large gift of $100,000. We still need to raise the remaining $160,000 and are well into that campaign,” he said. Lipsker said Richard and Dotty Tatelman purchased the property where the mikvah is being built.
Lipsker said the new mikvah will replace the old immersion pool at Congregation Ahabat Sholom in Lynn. That mikvah fell into disrepair at least 10 years ago. While most Jewish communities in the Greater Boston area had mikvahs last century, the closest functional mikvahs in the area are now located in Boston, Brookline, Malden, Newton, Lexington and Natick.
Chabad’s Swampscott mikvah will be used by Jewish women who have completed their menstrual cycle. Those women say a short blessing before immersing. It will also be used by men, who immerse before Shabbat and Jewish holidays but are not required to say a blessing. Lipsker said the mikvah can also be used as a powerful tool by Jewish women and men of all ages for spiritual renewal and healing purposes.
“In addition to serving a growing number of local north of Boston mikvah users, the presence of a state-of-the-art modern spa-like facility right here in our community gives people who have always been curious about this powerful spiritual practice a chance to explore firsthand. Furthermore, having a local mikvah makes our community a more viable option for young families from across the denominational spectrum,” said Lipsker.
When it opens, visits will be scheduled by appointment. An attendant will greet visitors in a reception area, and the facility will have two preparation rooms. The ambience will be “spa like,” and the facility will be handicapped accessible, with one mikvah visible. Two other adjoining pools are being built to gather 200 gallons of rainwater that must always be in the mikvah in order for it to be kosher.
For more information about the mikvah, visit nsmikvah.com.