Written by: Elisa Horowitz, HMI Atlanta 2022
Hello, my name is Elisa, and I’m just a gentile (non-Jewish) girl who learned about Judaism predominantly through American pop culture. That is until I met my Jewish husband and experienced the HMI trip from Atlanta in March 2022. We met some amazing people and have been introduced to a much more diverse representation of the Jewish community.
A few months after returning from Israel, our cohort went on a tour of MACoM, the Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah. We learned that a mikvah is a special pool of living waters that is used for Jewish ritual immersion and is often used as a way to acknowledge a life transition. It was enlightening and very special because they welcome all people living in a Jewish household.
My initial introduction to the idea of a mikvah was from the television series, “Sex and the City.” If you’re familiar with the lore, you know that Charlotte York, the “Episcopalian Princess,” falls in love with Harry Goldenblatt, a Jewish man who promised his mother that he would marry a Jewish woman. Charlotte evaluates her priorities in life, decides she wants to be with Harry, and chooses to convert to Judaism. Her conversion process included a dip in the mikvah. While I didn’t quite understand what a mikvah was at the time, the concept of submerging in water for rebirth was familiar enough so I didn’t think much about it until our tour at MACoM.
Just like the majority of my experiences through HMI, when I visited MACoM, I felt safe and welcomed as soon as I entered. The coordinators gave us a thorough tour and explained the history and purpose of a mikvah. It’s traditionally a place for women’s rituals before marriage or conversion, but modernly may be used for a variety of reasons and life transitions and it’s open to any and all gender identities.
Speaking of life transitions, my husband and I were hoping to expand our family after returning from Israel. I was excited, but I was also nervous and uncertain about the journey of pregnancy and childbirth. After our tour of the mikvah, our cohort learned about an opportunity called a “9 Month Dunk,” where a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy immerses in the mikvah, and then is followed by a woman who is ovulating as a sort of “good luck charm” in her journey to conceive. As a self-described Carrie/Charlotte (“Sex and the City” characters), I knew I would be interested.
I contacted the Executive Director of MACoM, and the next availability aligned with my fertility week perfectly. Prior to my immersion, I was encouraged to shower there and take as much time as I’d like to primp and lather. They have more accommodations than a Hilton hotel! There are prayers to review and a journal you can use to navigate your thoughts and emotions. Once I was mentally and physically prepared, I asked my guide to remain outside with my husband. I undressed and walked down the seven steps into the pool. She read the prayers I chose, and I recited them back while dunking under the warm water.
Personally, I felt that the whole experience was beautiful. I felt clean, calm, and at peace. I am grateful to have had my husband’s support for this experience and for the invitation from the MACoM. For anyone wondering, I highly recommend exploring a mikvah as it can be personalized to many of life’s transitions, not just related to pregnancy and childbirth.
My husband and I are thrilled to share that we’re expecting our first child in April 2023, and our mikvah experience was certainly a special and memorable moment in our journey.