On November 8, the Young Israel of White Plains Mikvah held a groundbreaking ceremony. Participants were provided YIWP hardhats, candy-filled mini hardhats and engraved shovels. The new mikvah will honor YIWP Rabbi Shmuel and Rebbetzin Ahuva Greenberg. Rabbi Greenberg was unable to attend as he is currently hospitalized, but Ahuva and their local children and grandchildren joined the ceremony.
Their son Nachum Greenberg commented on the previous day’s parsha. Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac. After being told to stop, Abraham requested to at least sacrifice something, and then sacrificed a ram. Nachum asked why it was important for Abraham to sacrifice something. He suggested that Abraham had the idea to give a sacrifice, but it’s not real until there is an action.
“This project has been so special to my father for so many years; this is something that he held so close to his heart,” Nachum said. “He wanted it so badly, and for whatever reason, it didn’t end up happening. Once my father became ill, we thought about what we could do that would be meaningful, that he would really appreciate. The idea was, let’s fulfill this dream of his. When my father comes out of the hospital, the first place he will want to go is to the shul that he misses so much, and he’ll see construction underway.”
YIWP members Daniel and Cheryl Gold, along with Jeremy and Amy Singer, have been instrumental in making the mikvah a reality. Cheryl recalled, “The rabbi has had the dream of a local mikvah on his mind for years. When I inquired 12 years ago why White Plains didn’t have its own mikvah, he replied, ‘It’s a long story, but now let’s make it happen.’ Over the past 10 years, he and I had numerous conversations, meetings and more meetings, over how to generate excitement, raise funds, build it and run it. We had multiple donors and false starts. We worked with multiple consultants and builders in trying to formulate a workable plan. We now stand here at the groundbreaking of his dream, a project a decade in the making.
“A talmid chacham cannot live in a community that does not have a beit din, a tzedaka fund, a mikvah. It is incumbent on a community to have a local mikvah.”
White Plains City Councilman Justin Brasch said, “I had more meetings with Rabbi Greenberg on this project then any of you could imagine for many years. He really cared about this project from the bottom of his heart. This was his dream, and we all came together to work and help and build what will be a beautiful mikvah and a beautiful addition to our community. He dreamed this dream and it is coming true, and the next dream will come true that he will have a refuah sheleima, a complete and speedy recovery.”
Mayor Tom Roach added, “This is a great day for YIWP, but I think it shows the type of leadership you have in Rabbi Greenberg, that when he is unavailable, the impact of his leadership continues. This wonderful community comes forward and gets this project done!”
Susie Shapiro, YIWP member, said, “I have learned from Rabbi Greenberg how looking at the root of the word can give us a message. The root of the word ‘mikvah’ is the three letter kuf vav hey, forming the word ‘kavey’—hope.” Shapiro explained that hope can also mean trust in Hashem. “The foundation of a mikvah is a trust in Hashem including that challenges will work out if we daven and believe in a positive outcome. We are building this mikvah because the dedicated mikvah committee believed that it could happen.”
Amy Singer noted, “The Greenbergs don’t just inspire hope, they inspire action. Our hope and deep belief in the rabbi’s full recovery drives us each and every day to be better and to do more.”
One by one, community members in their YIWP hardhats broke ground.
“Dreams are nice,” Nachum said, “but they are nothing compared to action!”