Thursday, March 16, 2006

Washington DC - Mikvah

WJW: So important is a mikvah to a Jewish community that rabbis have said that a new Jewish community should build one even before constructing a synagogue or a school. In Aspen Hill, the school and synagogue came first, but in the next few months, that small but growing Rockville Jewish community will have a new ritual bath to call its own. The Aspen Hill Mikvah, located at the Orthodox Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, is nearing completion, and neighborhood Jews say they are excited for the new addition. "It's great," said Amy Hall, vice president of Aspen Hill's Beth Joshua Congregation, noting that it can "make a difference" in drawing new families to the area. The mikvah is another step in developer Dennis Berman's efforts to foster an observant Jewish neighborhood around the academy. "Having an Orthodox Jewish community around [the school] anchors that spot," said Potomac resident Berman, whose company, Berman Enterprises in Rockville, renovated the academy's building on Arctic Avenue before it opened in 1999. The Aspen Hill community has since created Beth Joshua Congregation, and also built an eruv, a border in which it is permissible to carry on Shabbat. Berman also has offered no-interest housing loans to attract Jewish families to the area, which he said a handful have utilized...A mikvah allows women to fulfill the commandment of taharat hamishpacha, or family purity.....The mikvah was built to reflect both Lubavitch and non-Chasidic Orthodox rabbinic opinion, said Kesher Israel Rabbi Barry Freundel, the facility's rabbinic supervisor. That means rainwater pools are located both on the sides and underneath the mikvah. The mikvah is located very close to the Beth Joshua synagogue, which recently affiliated with the Orthodox Union. The 21-family congregation members meet in the school's beit midrash on Shabbat and holidays and hold minyanim on Sunday and federal holidays.
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