Mikveh FAQs

Interested in the basics of mikveh practice? Here's a great video to get you started.

What does “Libi Eir” mean?
Why do people use the mikveh at Libi Eir?
What makes a mikveh “kosher” and how does Libi Eir meet those standards? 
Do I need to be Jewish to come to Libi Eir?
What does the mikveh look like?
Is the mikveh clean?
What is the water temperature?
How big is the mikveh?
Is it ever unsafe to immerse in a mikveh?
Can I go in when I am menstruating?
What does immersion actually involve?
What are the rules for entering the mikveh?
What if I have a body piercing that is not easily removed?
Will anyone be with me during the immersion?
Can I go in with another person?
How do I make an appointment?


What does “Libi Eir” mean?
The name comes from the book Song of Songs 5:2 and it means “My heart is awake.”  The metaphor of an “awakened heart” connects us to the essence of immersion because it signals the sense of vitality, awareness, and life force one feels when immersing.  Additionally, this verse from Song of Songs takes place within the context of a loving relationship.  The mikveh is a place in which relationships between people and people (bein adam l’havero) and between people and God (bein adam l’Makom) are sanctified and honored.

Why do people use the mikveh at Libi Eir?
Libi Eir has been created to meet a broad range of needs. In addition to traditional purposes, new uses include celebrations for milestone events such as a graduation, the end of a period of study, or an important birthday or anniversary. Immersion in the mikveh can also signify a new start in the aftermath of pain and trauma. Immersion provides an opportunity to mark the end of formal grieving or the beginning of healing from events such as suffering a miscarriage, undergoing chemotherapy, completing a year of bereavement, and recovering from divorce, rape or abuse. The goal is for visitors to the mikveh to emerge refreshed and renewed, ready for life’s next gifts.

What makes a mikveh “kosher” and how does Libi Eir meet those standards? 
Libi Eir is a “kosher” or “proper” mikveh, built and maintained under rabbinic supervision. Our mikveh actually consists of two permanent pools, watertight pits built into the ground. The first, smaller pool is called the "bor haotzar" (collection pool); it is filled with at least 40 “se’ah” or 200 gallons of “living water” (water not drawn by human hands). At Libi Eir, rain water fulfills this purpose. The small pool is connected to the larger immersion pool - following the "hashakah" or "connection" design for a kosher mikveh. The immersion pool is filled with heated and treated tap water. The introduction of a small amount of “living water” from the smaller "bor" is what makes the larger pool a kosher mikveh. 

Do I need to be Jewish to come to Libi Eir?
Libi Eir welcomes everyone to participate in its educational programs, view the art exhibitions, and tour the mikveh area. Likewise, all people of any religious background are invited to accompany a friend or family member for an immersion. Ritual immersions, however, are limited to those who are Jewish or who are immersing to convert to Judaism.

What does the mikveh look like?
Libi Eir’s mikveh is beautifully tiled with natural stone. It looks like a deep hot tub, with the mandated seven steps leading into the water. A handrail is provided for safety. Natural light seeps through frosted glass windows, providing a glimpse of the outside while carefully preserving modesty. After sundown, lights can be lowered to enhance a sense of peace and rest. 

Is the mikveh clean?
Libi Eir’s pool is scrupulously clean. Libi Eir has a filter/disinfectant system in the through which the water to the mikveh flows as well as an ozonator which cleans the water with a powerful light. There is a supply pipe and return pipe—much like a supply and return duct for air. The water is treated with Bromine, a safe and effective disinfectant. PH levels are checked daily.

What is the water temperature?
The water is a comfortable 91 degrees.

How big is the mikveh?
The immersion pool holds 1200 gallons and is large enough for a 6 foot-tall person to fully immerse. When standing in the pool, the water level is approximately at chest height for an average size adult. The deck is large enough for others to be present; if for example, a baby is being immersed for conversion--held in the water by parents--family and friends can witness the ceremony.

Is it ever unsafe to immerse in a mikveh?
Immersion should not take place if one has any open cuts, sores or communicable diseases (e.g. bronchitis). Any specific questions can be addressed to your physician, your rabbi, the Mikveh Guide or Rabbi Jenny Solomon, Mikveh Director. 

Can I go in when I am menstruating?
Libi Eir recommends postponing immersion until the completion of the menstrual cycle. However, according to Halakhah(Jewish Law), a mikveh is "lo mekabel tumah"–-that is, it does not become "ritually impure." Therefore, a menstruating woman does not render the mikveh ritually impure for other users.

What does immersion actually involve?
The formal ritual is simple and brief. Once in the water, the person ducks under to submerge for a moment or two, then recites a short blessing (Libi Eir provides traditional and creative texts). The person then immerses one or two more times, according to his/her custom, recites a blessing, and leaves the water.

What are the rules for entering the mikveh?
You must be clean before entering the mikveh.  Libi Eir provides a private room where you can undress, remove all jewelry, wash, shampoo, brush your teeth, and remove all obstacles (physical and symbolic) between your body and the water.

What if I have a body piercing that is not easily removed?
In general, the goal is to remove anything that separates you from the water. However, according to Jewish law, if you are unable to remove a particular piece of jewelry, you are permitted to immerse with it, after rotating it around under the water.  Likewise, acrylic nails that have been on for more than 30 days are considered a part of your body and do not have to be removed for immersion.

Will anyone be with me during the immersion?
Traditionally, a Mikveh Guide acts as a witness to make certain that one’s entire body (including all hair) is immersed under water.  Mikveh Guides hold a sheet above their eyes, only lowering it down at the moment of immersion. Libi Eir also trains Mikveh Guides to help facilitate the ritual, providing guidance and support when appropriate. However, you may choose to immerse in private or with a friend or family member acting as your witness.  If you are immersing for conversion, please discuss this first with your sponsoring clergy, who may require a volunteer Mikveh Guide.

Can I go in with another person?
Traditionally, mikveh is an individual, personal ritual. In fact one of Libi Eir’s guiding principles is "tzniyut", which means modesty. At Libi Eir, you enter the mikveh area directly from the changing room.  Two people may serve as witnesses to each other's immersions, though we encourage people to immerse in the water individually.  For the conversion of a child, two parents may enter the water together, depending on the preferences of the sponsoring rabbi.  Parents wear bathing suits and only the child is naked. 

How do I make an appointment?
If you would like to make an appointment at the mikveh or have further questions, please contact Rabbi Jenny Solomon by calling her at 214-886-5079 or e-mailing her at mikveh@bethmeyer.org.