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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Tenth Annual Mikvah Chana Event Draws 450 Women

The Westminster Hotel was the place to be on June 1 as 450 women from Northern New Jersey came together to learn, be inspired and spend a night out with friends.

Noting that this was the 10th annual Mikvah Chana event, Dara Orbach, who chaired the program, said that “what amazes me the most about this event are the incredible women that we have met and the friendships that have developed through volunteering for such a special cause.”

“Each woman on our committee, and each of you that has chosen to join us tonight, believes in making a difference in the community and making the world a better place,” she continued. “I am so proud and honored to be a part of this incredible group.”

The women represented many different communities, synagogues, religious backgrounds and more, but were drawn together for a common purpose.

“We come because it’s a wonderful cause and, as women, we need to support our community,” said Renee Cohen of Livingston. “I consider us lucky to live in an area where we are recognized for our roles.”

For Cheryl Greenwald, the evening represented a first step toward learning about Mikvah Chana in Livingston.

“I came to find out what mikvah is all about and my goal is to take a tour later this month,” said Greenwald, who attended the evening with her daughter Rebecca. “This is my first experience and I plan to bring a group of friends with me. Everyone I tell is excited about it; it’s supposed to be very beautiful.”

Despite growing up in Brooklyn, Greenwald said she never had the opportunity to learn about the mikvah and was looking forward to learning more about this Jewish observance.

According to Andrea Bier, of West Orange and a member of the mikvah event committee, everyone has a place at the annual event. “It doesn’t matter where you are in Judaism—everyone here is equal and that’s wonderful.”

Mother-and-daughter duo Fran and Jaimee Scherer were eager to hear this year’s speaker, Adam Braun, the founder of Pencils of Promise. As a teacher, Jaimee said Braun’s message really resonates with her as “he’s giving an education to students who don’t have one.”

Braun didn’t disappoint, explaining how he went from being a Wall Street executive to dedicating his life to helping educate under-privileged children. It began, Braun said, when he decided to participate in a Semester at Sea. While traveling around the world, the ship was hit by a wave and Braun and the other passengers had to be rescued at sea. As he waited for help, Braun realized he had a purpose in life, though it was a few more years before he learned what the purpose was.

“I was living and working in New York … inside the ivory tower, living a life of total self-consumption,” he said. But, Braun continued, he wanted to do more, to offer more and slowly he started to think about the person who inspired him—his grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. “I thought, what if I could just live to honor her in her lifetime,” he said. “What better way than to build a school?”

If Braun felt drawn to build a school, the evening’s other speaker, Edana Desatnick, was drawn to explore what Judaism was all about. Inspired by an educational trip to Israel four years ago to learn about Judaism, Desatnick began studying about mikvah.

Visiting Mikvah Chana “was one of the most beautiful, meaningful experiences I have ever had,” said Desatnick, a married mother of three. “The mikvah [without a] doubt made our marriage better and deepened our love and connection to Judaism.”

To learn more about Mikvah Chana or arrange for a private tour, call 973-994-0200 or email [email protected].

By Faygie Levy

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