Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Mikvah

Mikvah is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism. The word "mikveh", as used in the Hebrew Bible, literally means a "collection" – generally, a collection of water.
Since Miranda was adopted, I did not get to see her enter the world.  We heard she was born and when her birth mother was ready, we packed up our car and headed to Delaware to meet her.  She was a day old when we first laid eyes on her and the very next day she was discharged to our care.  

Last week, I got to witness her enter the Jewish world, so to speak.  And it was magical.

We had to wait until everything with the adoption was finalized before we could convert Miranda.  Then I had to find a Mikvah that would perform the ritual ceremony.  It was a little difficult as I am not currently a member of any synagogue.  That, combined with the fact that Gary is not Jewish, made it a little tricky.  So I called back-up (my mom) and within a few days, we were all set!  The rabbi at the local synagogue where we used to belong said he would honored to convert our daughter to Judaism.

This Mikvah was in another synagogue about 45 minutes from here.  It was essentially a little pool.  The woman who runs it greeted us warmly and showed us where we needed to go.  Then I got into my bathing suit and stripped Miranda down.  Mind you, all of this happened in the middle of one of the coldest winters in 20 years!  Good thing the pool was heated!

When it was time, Miranda and I walked into the warm water.  Gary and my mom were there to witness this joyous occasion.  Once in the water, 3 rabbis came in to witness as well.  There were a few prayers to say and I stumbled through them as I was so nervous.  Then I dunked Miranda under water and had to let go for a second so she would not be touching me at all.  Talk about nerves!  But then I scooped her up and hugged her tight and she loved all the attention and did not care one bit!  One more prayer, one more dunk, and then lots of applause.  It was over.  Miranda was converted!

We met with the rabbi and his wife afterwards to tell them a little bit about us and how we came to be on this journey.  They were kind and compassionate and I explained that the journey to Miranda started with her sister, Allison.  I explained Allie's story and how she was Jewish because she was born to me and it was hard to think Miranda wasn't Jewish because she was not born to me.  He said to not look at it like that.  She is and was what we want her to be and this conversion just made it "official".  His wife, also a rabbi, said her soul was Jewish and now the rest of her was as well.
I was practically floating on the ride home.  What a wonderful and beautiful experience!  We have a certificate declaring her conversion and in the next few months, we may have an official Hebrew naming ceremony at the local synagogue. Just to keep the celebration going and to welcome her even more to the Jewish community.

And so I got to witness a first for Miranda - not a milestone like eating solids or crawling or talking - but a beginning of sorts rather than a first.  The beginning of a commitment to a religion that means so much to me.  

Here is the English of the second prayer we recited:

"Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion."


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