A peek at Tzur Hadassah’s first and only mikvah [PHOTOS]

It’s been nearly a decade, I believe, but here it is – started with allotted government funds, ended with a generous donation – the long-despised, the long-awaited, Tzur Hadassah mikvah.

The ‘grand opening’ ceremony was earlier this evening. I was totally surprised to find a facility on par with American/Australian counterparts:

The reception:

The bridal mikvah – with its own personal mikvah in the room. Where was this when I was getting married and went to Katamon’s shteiblach?!

The outside is fancy too:

Some important details:

Did I personally desire a swanky mikvah? I’m just happy to not have to go to Beitar Illit anymore. Am I a bit of a mikvah apologist because of how it’s making the wider community feel? Perhaps. Is it nice for good people to get something they felt they needed for so long, despite the controversy? Sure, I think a true pluralistic community would feel that way.

Mazal tov and תתחדשו!

 

Snow in Tzur Hadassah: Who said this isn’t Switzerland? [PHOTOS]

There’s this inside joke here… sometime a couple years ago they started hanging hopeful signs around garbage points in Tzur Hadassah: If no one made it dirty, this could be like Switzerland. 

After four days of heavy snow, warm clothes, sledding, and beautiful views… Well, I’d have to say we came pretty freakin close for the Middle East.

[More photos from day 1-3 here]

The view from my ‘front yard’ – only last week it was cleared of the forest to make way for new construction (sigh). So it allowed a whole new snow-filled view:

Soon I found the Yetti…

A long long time ago… in another life… I got a free giant boogie board at a tech conference (?!). Never touched it… until now.

The whole view… The hills are Gush Etzion, facing Neve Daniel area. The buildings are Beitar Illit. The snow is ours. (Click to enlarge)

The supermarket was rightfully bare this morning. And then the Tnuva truck pulled up. Never was so excited to see a Tnuva truck…

Later we went out and surveyed some local damage – seems every other tree took a toll. Our garbage collection area collapsed. And… so did our building, actually.

Another new view… sun setting and moon rising over the outlook towards Beitar Illit. (Click to enlarge)

Climbed up the nature walk to check out, in Koala’s words, the ‘sun rainbow.’

 Hang in there, Tzur Hadassah, European snow resort town. (Click to enlarge)

UPDATED:

Day 5, morning: Nope, it’s not all a dream.

 

Wishing the snowman farewell…

More photos!

 

Getting your feet (ritually) wet: An American-Israeli’s mikvah story

Perhaps, for a taharat-mishpacha-keeping American-Israeli olah (female American immigrant to Israel who keeps laws of family purity), nothing else can quite epitomize the cultural differences of here and there better than… the mikvah.

Because I got married in Israel, my mikva knowledge and experiences have been molded here. The closest I got in the States before emigrating was a very swanky, fancy Sephardic mikvah in Brooklyn, that my high school class was taken to on a school trip while learning the halachot (laws) in our senior year. A gorgeous facility, including pre- and post- manicure, robes, blow driers, and made-up balaniyot.

The idea to me seemed, pretty clearly, to make the practice more attractive.

Fast forward to 2006, when I became engaged in the monthly ritual in an old, very ‘Jerusalem’ mikva facility tucked into a shoddy building behind a meat market in Katamonim.

Out of any of the mikvot I’ve been to, I came to love it the most.

I hated going, but I loved coming out. I loved the sound of Kaaaaasherrrr rolling off the tongue of the elderly Mizrachi balanit. Deep, warm, the rrrrrr is what made me really feel purified. I loved that she wished me the best of luck, speedy pregnancies, a million children, a good life. I loved believing her, that it would all come true this month, even though the next set of birth control pills were somewhere in the depths of my handbag.

To contrast that, there were the few times I’ve gone in New York during visits. It was my hometown mikva, a place I had passed a billion times during childhood, the heavy red door shut tight during the day. I had known what it was, but I had never been inside.

It was classy enough, comfortable, even kind of PC.

And it was home. Imagine my delight when the first time I lifted my head out of the water, the middle-aged New Yawka balanit was shrilly calling, KOH-shuuuh!

I’ve even been to the mikvah in Melbourne, Australia. This was by far the most comfortable, beautiful facility I’ve dunked in yet. Everything was provided; everything was just right.

Later, when I moved to Tzur Hadassah, I experimented before settling on a permanent mikvah. I tried what seemed like a tiny pre-1967 free-standing stone room in Bar Giora. I visited Efrat, where I felt I had entered an alternative universe (we spoke in English of course). I’ve been to the small but equipped mikvah in Nes Harim.

But where I’ve mostly settled, and returned to every month, are the mega-mikvot in Beitar Illit.

Israeli mikvah: Beitar Illit

These are free-standing buildings with their own identities; secret entrances shield visitors from publicity. A reception desk greets you. Corridors of prep rooms are available. Two mikvot are rotated inside, available depending on your tradition.

And the pre-check questions, oh, the questions.

It’s a personal challenge. I don’t love it like I was able to come to love my elderly Sephardi balanit in Jerusalem. I’ve had to make the experience completely separate and personal so as not to claw at the kisui rosh of an unassuming ‘just doing my charedi job’ Beitar Illit balanit, who to her credit, as she checks the length of my too-long nails, never fails to ask,

‘So, are you from around here?’

 

P.S. I have it on good faith that I’ll be able to report on the ever-in progress Tzur Hadassah mikvah very soon. It’s been completed and waiting for electricity, so they say. Stay tuned…

 

 

Einstein spending Purim in Beitar Illit?

One of the best things about Purim is the idea that you can enjoy the humor, the sass, the tongue-in-cheek quality of opposites. You can turn the world upside-down, you can defy the laws of gravity with a sprinkle of humor and darkness.

So why was I so amused to find, in Beitar Illit, my charedi neighbor-town, a mask resembling no one other than the secular god of science, Albert Einstein himself?

I suppose it could be an angry old man. Or an angry old anti-Semite. Or an angry old Haman, if he had continued living past the pole.

Either way, it made me smile.