converts use the
Achim each year.
Reform tradition does not re-
quire use of the ritual bath for
conversion, nor demand adher-
ence to purity laws, which state
that a woman visit the mikvah
following her period.
However, Reform rabbis report
more individuals are choosing to
use the mikvah in their conver-
Rabbi Daniel Polish of Temple
Beth El performs between 20 and
30 conversions each year. About
half of those individuals choose
to include mikvah in the ritual.
"I think it's a way of physical-
ly acting out the spiritual drama
of conversion," Rabbi Polish said.
"I think it's very imaginative
thinking on the part of Temple
Israel and I commend them for
responding to a need."
Rabbi Polish said he has not
given much consideration to us-
ing the Temple Israel mikvah
(slated for completion this fall)
versus Beth Achim's ritual bath.
Convenience will most likely dic-
tate conversion location.
The Temple Israel mikvah
could especially benefit nearby
congregations like Temple Kol
Ami, Congregation B'nai Moshe
and Shaarey Zedek B'nai Israel
Center. However, rabbis are hes-
itant to make any hard decisions
regarding use of the new mikvah.
"First, it has to meet halachic
standards. I'm no expert, but
there are specifications as to the
collection of rain water for a mik-
vah. I'm inclined to support the
Conservative synagogue first,
though," said Rabbi Elliot
Pachter of Congregation B'nai
Moshe. "My hope is that the mik-
vah will meet all halachic re-
quirements. If so, it will show the
ability of movements to work to-
Temple Israel Rabbi Paul Yed-
wab said the mikvah will follow
all the laws of Halachah.
'We're studying Halachah and
the mikvah will be kosher. The
Conservative rabbinate will have
to make their own decisions
(whether or not to use it), Rabbi
Yedwab said. "We have no desire
to become the mikvah in town.
We just wanted to make sure a
mikvah is always available.
"We looked at our expansion
plans and needed another bath-
room due to building codes. Why
not a mikvah, too. It wasn't a
question. It was an 'of course.' We
don't know the future of Beth
Achim. (Merging with another
congregation has been suggest-
ed.) No one else was stepping for-
The temple hopes to operate
without costs to users.
Currently, Beth Achim charges
$50 for adults and $35 for chil-
dren for conversions. Attendants
cost an additional $10.
"We're not making any money
on this. These costs barely meet
our expenses for cleaning, chang-
ing of the water, and maintain-
ing the mikvah," said Rabbi
Martin Berman of Beth Achim.
Rabbi Berman expressed no
concern that the Temple Israel
mikvah will act as "competition."
"If it meets their needs, they
have every right to build one," he
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