Chabad-Lubavitch To Give Palm Harbor Its First Mikvah

Chabad-Lubavitch To Give Palm Harbor Its First Mikvah

by R. C. Berman - Palm Harbor, FL

August 21, 2007

When construction is completed on the “Mei Menachem” mikvah, in the spring or early summer, Pinellas County will have another piece of Jewish life essential to attract and keep young families in the area.

Backhoes hungrily bit into the concrete shell of an empty pool to make space for two new mikvahs, the first in Palm Harbor, FL. Jaw rattling jackhammers continued the demolition job to ready the 600 square foot space that will house two ritual pools.

One will be a mikvah in a spa-style setting for women, the other an outdoor well-like area for immersing new kitchen utensils.

Currently, the closest mikvah is in Tampa.

“Just as people look up affordability when moving to a particular area, Jewish families look to see if there’s a shul, if kosher food is available, and more and more of them are including the proximity of a mikvah on that checklist,” said Rabbi Sholom Adler, who co-directs Chabad of Pinellas County with his wife Chana Adler.

“The more infrastructure we provide for our community, the more likely they are to observe the mitzvahs and stay in town, because we are meeting all their needs.”

The mikvah complements Chabad’s thriving preschool, adult education programs, and Hebrew school. In a novel arrangement, Rabbi Adler is the founding rabbi and spiritual leader of Young Israel of Clearwater, on the 1.5-acre site where the mikvah will stand. Young Israel’s membership grows as Chabad’s activities reach Jewish families in the area.

“It is a seamless partnership,” said Rabbi Adler.

The mikvah itself is another exemplar of Chabad’s ability to play well with others. Its construction is a 20-year dream realized through collaboration between the community’s women, rabbinical authorities, and philanthropists.

The women of the community are offering their input to shape the mikvah’s aesthetics. Many have used mikvahs across the country. Chana Adler is fielding their suggestions about the pros and cons of those mikvahs.

As opening day nears, Chabad plans to offer the women of the Palm Harbor community an intensive training seminar in mikvah laws and practices so they can serve as mikvah attendants.

Because of the densely technical aspects of construction, Rabbi Gershon Grossbaum, a highly regarded mikvah expert has been advising Chabad’s contractors from the first sketches.

Along with local philanthropists, a significant portion of funds for the mikvah was provided by Avrohom (Yingy) Bistritsky, who has been instrumental in the construction of mikvahs around the world. Many of the mikvahs Bistritsky has funded bear the name “Mei Menachem” in honor of the memory of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

“The Lubavitcher Rebbe stressed that mikvah is a central pillar of Jewish life,” said Rabbi Adler, “even more important than a synagogue.”

By mid-2008, Jewish women of Pinellas County will have a beautiful way to fulfill this mitzvah right in their own backyard.  


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