Mikvah Bound: o i c what you did there

I’ve been involved enough with the online conversion community to recognize that bloggers documenting the process eventually reach an identity crisis after immersing in the mikvah. Their title—poignant or witty—correlated with the immediate goal of conversion; now that they are Jews, do they keep the same blog, or do they create a new one to document the next phase?

I wanted my blog to be able to grow with my identity, accommodating different facets and thus I purposely crafted a pun as my title. The mikvah is my short term goal, representing the end of the conversion process and the beginning of one’s life as a Jew. It is a declaration of my destination, as those embarking on a road trip might scribble “California bound” on a dirty car window.

But the mikvah is not used for conversion alone. Once I emerge from the mikvah, I will be bound to the identity, to the history, to the people, to the mitzvoth. I will acknowledge my rights and responsibilities as a member of the tribe, I will struggled to determine what it means to live righteously with Torah as my compass.

And one day, G-d willing, it will be my destination again. Before Jewish communities built kosher butchers, synagogues, cemeteries, and yeshivas, they were required to build a mikvah. Brides and grooms dunked before their weddings and wives maintained family purity with monthly visits. Some individuals even went before the Days of Awe. I want to build a Jewish home, grounded in my love for G-d, Judaism, and my eventual husband, to nourish whatever children G-d graciously entrusts into our care.

I used to view monthly visits as an archaic, misogynistic practice declaring female bodies inherently ritually impure. Whatever reasons, religious or merely religious-cloaked, were offered in the past for continuining the practice, I can see it taking on different meaning in my life. I can see it as a tie to my beginnings as a Jew, and my continued affirmation their people are my people, their G-d my G-d.

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