April 14, 2024
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Livingston’s Mikvah Chana Initiative Inspires

Mikvah Chana of Livingston.

At the beginning of 2019, a magnificent new bridal suite at Mikvah Chana in Livingston was dedicated in honor of Naomi Rosenfeld, z”l, a local mother of four who passed away in 2017 at the age of 42. The suite, designed by Karen B. Wolf Interiors with the ambiance of a day spa, is intended to further beautify the mitzvah of ritual immersion. During her illness, Naomi spoke to her friends about specific mitzvot that they might consider taking on, in an attempt to enhance their lives and form a deeper connection to their Judaism.

“Naomi was a vocal advocate for the beauty of engaging in the mitzvah of mikvah immersion,” Toba Grossbaum told the group at last year’s Mikvah Chana Annual Women’s Gala. “It was important to Naomi that our mikvah was a place where all Jewish women are welcome.” To that end, a yearlong campaign was begun to enlist 45 women (not including brides) to immerse in the mikvah for the first time before what would have been Naomi’s 45th birthday this past November. The opportunity to participate in this unique mitzvah attracted women of all ages and from across the religious spectrum, making it a most fitting zechus for Naomi’s memory.

“I would tell other Jewish women that in today’s world where life is so fast-paced and we are usually taking care of everyone else’s needs before our own, it is important to remember the mitzvah of mikvah,” said one of the participants, reflecting on her experience. “It was a touching experience that allowed me to contemplate life and loved ones in a way that I do not normally have an opportunity to on a day-to-day basis. The experience is very personal and meaningful and feels safe, secure and without judgment.” Another participant echoed this sentiment, saying, “There are not many places these days where a mom can find peace and quiet. From the moment I walked into Mikvah Chana I knew I could just be me. I didn’t have to be a mom, friend, wife, etc. When I arose from the water, I felt that my thoughts and prayers would be directly heard by Hashem.”

Robin Sabbagh, a former Livingston resident who grew up in a Conservative Jewish home in Bergen County, was the 45th person to participate in this initiative, immersing on Naomi’s 45th birthday. Sabbagh will be one of the speakers at the upcoming Mikvah Chana Gala at the Westminster Hotel in Livingston. In addition to the speakers, the event features appetizers, dessert and an impressive raffle.

“I think that for many people, the unknown of the mitzvah of mikvah immersion is perhaps the hardest part,” says Sabbagh, who hopes that by sharing her own story with the hundreds of women and high school girls in attendance, others will be open to experiencing this mitzvah. Registration for the gala is available online at www.mikvahchana.com/event.

By Rachel Jager

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