My Blog

The Mikvah

Foggy Water Water, Water

Walking round Jamaica Pond is when I do my best thinking about writing. This day it was about the mikvah, the ritual immersion in water to rid oneself of impurities, that I took a few days before my first wedding in 1966. The promise was that God would forgive all past sins and give me a new beginning, an idea that I was very taken with. The mikvah was obligatory for me, and was also customary for the mother of the bride. My mother said, “No way am I getting into that filthy water. They can say it’s clean all they like, but I don’t know who’s been in it, or how many number ones, and god knows what else, they might have left behind.” Typical, I thought, always trying to spoil things for me, but forget it not this time. And as I walked down the steps to the tiled pool that looked like a deep, narrow bath, in the basement of the synagogue, I held fast in my heart the purity and transformation I was about to receive. The pool looked clean, I could see to the bottom, but as I lowered myself into the water “number ones and god knows what else” lit up like neon in my brain. There was no getting rid of it, so I squeezed my eyes shut, held my nose, dunked and ran back up the stairs.