Using The Mikvah
Thank you for your interest in visiting MACoM. If you have never been to MACoM before or if the ritual of mikvah is new to you, please don’t hesitate to call or email us directly if you have questions, concerns or just want to get a better idea of what a visit to MACoM entails.
When you arrive for your appointment, a volunteer mikvah guide will be there to welcome you. Your guide is available to show you around the mikvah, explain the immersion process, answer any questions you might have, and, when desired, serve as a witness for your immersion.
Preparing for the Mikvah
Before immersing in the mikvah, you prepare by thoroughly cleansing your body in order to remove anything that might be a barrier (or chatzitza) between you and the water. This includes: removing jewelry, contact lenses, makeup, bandages, and nail polish; taking a shower or bath; and cleaning your nails and teeth. We provide all the supplies and instructions that you need to prepare; you do not need to bring anything with you. Some additional details are below:
Contacts & Glasses: If you normally wear contacts, you may want to bring a pair of glasses with you to your appointment. You are welcome to take glasses with you into the mikvah, and set them down on the edge of the pool while you immerse.
Hair: Hair should be shampooed and any braids or tangles should be removed. When possible, this should be done without using conditioner, which some consider to be a barrier. However, we also know that some people need conditioner in order to make their hair free of tangles. If you do use conditioner, please supply your own and try to rinse it out thoroughly.
Body Piercings: If you are unable to remove a particular piece of jewelry such as a body piercing, we suggest that you rotate it around in the water during your immersion, so that the water comes into contact with your body as much as possible.
Acrylic & Gel Nails: Acrylic and gel nails that are left on for more than 30 days are considered a part of your body and do not have to be removed for immersion.
Skin: If you currently have any stitches or open sores, you may want to consult with a rabbi or contact us for more information.
Menstruation: If your immersion is scheduled to fall during your menstrual cycle, you may prefer to reschedule your appointment. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your options.
If you have specific questions about any of these preparations, please contact us or consult with a rabbi.
Immersing in the Mikvah
Once you walk down the seven steps into the warm water of the mikvah, it is customary to immerse fully—putting your head under the water so that every strand of hair is covered, raising one’s feet off the floor, and relaxing one’s limbs—a total of three times. (Some people might only immerse once; others might immerse seven or even eight times, according to their custom.) Depending on your tradition and your reason for immersing, a blessing is often recited after the first and last immersions. MACoM provides these blessings—in Hebrew, English, and transliteration—by the side of the mikvah pool. Your Mikvah Guide can help explain the options. (Note: If you are immersing for a conversion, please consult with your rabbi beforehand regarding which blessings you will say.)
You can choose to incorporate additional prayers, readings, or songs during your immersions. MACoM also has a selection of ceremonies written for specific immersion experiences that you can take with you into the mikvah.
If you have asked your Mikvah Guide to witness your immersion, the Guide will be present with you in the mikvah room while you immerse. To respect your privacy, Mikvah Guides hold a towel or robe above their eyes, lowering it down only at the moment of immersion to make sure that your entire body (including all hair) is immersed under water.
You can choose to immerse in private or with a friend or family member acting as your witness; just let your Mikvah Guide know what you prefer. (Note: If you are immersing for a conversion, there may be special requirements; please discuss this first with your sponsoring clergy.)
You are welcome to bring guests with you to your appointment. You may choose to invite a guest into the mikvah room with you, or guests can wait in the lobby or stand in the “gathering room” located just outside the mikvah while you are immersing. (A transom window between the gathering room and the mikvah can be opened up so that people in the gathering room can hear the blessings being said inside the mikvah.)
If you are planning on bringing many people with you, please let us know ahead of time. Our community room can also be rented out if you would like to host a gathering with friends or family after your immersion.