Photo: JFGP CEO Marc Blattner wields the scissors aided by Rabbis Tzvi Fischer and Ariel Stone at the ribbon cutting for the Jan. 21 dedication of Rachel’s Well. Photo by Victor Paru
More than 100 community members celebrated the grand opening of Portland’s new community mikvah. Owned and operated by the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, in partnership with the Oregon Board of Rabbis, this new mikvah is open to women and men for traditional and contemporary use. The grand opening was followed by a panel discussion on the multiple uses of mikvah. The two preparation rooms were named in honor of Helen Stern and Jeffrey Weitz. The reception area is named for Carolyn and Robin Weinstein.
“Both the panel and the attendees represented a broad swath of our community, a testament to the diversity of mikvah practice celebrated and possible at Rachel’s Well,” wrote Marc following the dedication.
Rachel’s Well has scheduled pre-Yom Tov Pesach, open men’s hours for immersion. No appointment is necessary 2-4 pm March 30 or 2-4 pm April 5 for men wishing to immerse before the holiday. Since Rachel’s Well Community Mikvah operates thanks to the donations of our users, a suggested donation for a single use is $25. You can donate online at jewishportland.org/mikvah or use the donation envelopes at the mikvah for a donation by cash or check.
Rachel’s Well also offer an annual membership with unlimited use of the mikvah for $250 for an individual membership, and $450 for a family membership (includes 2 adults and all children in household under 18).
Following the grand opening, one attendee posted the following on Facebook: “I experienced something profound today. Something I’ve never experienced before…I gathered today with the greater Portland Jewish community to celebrate the opening of a new community mikvah. There was a discussion panel after the ribbon cutting and that’s when it happened. I felt God’s presence. Not God’s work. Not God’s guidance or hand. But I felt God’s presence. God’s restful presence…In a room of people from different generations, different traditions, different beliefs, from the blackest of black hat rabbis to purple haired kippah-wearing women to those that are skeptical about God’s existence. But we were all gathered together without judgment, without fear of judgment, to celebrate this beautiful mitzvah and this beautiful new place to take part in this mitzvah. To hear the rabbi that I usually regard as too frum to consult, to hear him speak with such passion and sensitivity to the group of people from all walks of life, it moved me to tears, more than once. To hear someone who I would assume regards those of us who keep the mitzvah of family purity as antiquated and backward, to hear her speak with respect and thank us for keeping the tradition alive, also moved me to tears…When a group of people gathers and we spread our love for a mitzvah without judgment or division, that’s where God rests.”