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We Went to the Mikvah Together Before Our Wedding

By January 24, 2022CARING, COMMUNITY

By Shari Rabin & Matt Berkman

Note: MACoM is the only mikvah in Atlanta open to the entire Jewish community regardless of affiliation, observance level, sexual orientation, or capacity for physical mobility. The possibilities for traditional and modern immersions at MACoM are almost limitless. Below, Shari Rabin and Matt Berkman, who are faculty members at Oberlin College, share their experience immersing right before their wedding

Neither one of us had immersed in a mikvah before, but Shari had taught about mikvah many times in her Jewish studies courses and accompanied several friends and relatives as they immersed in preparation for their weddings. Matt is open-minded about engaging with tradition and agreed to go as well. We set up our appointments for the Thursday evening before our Sunday wedding. This was in early August 2021, just as the Delta variant was rising worldwide, and so the weeks leading up to our immersion were filled with stress as guests pulled out and we grappled with how to safely hold our already long-postponed wedding.

We were able to serve as each other’s mikvah guides, each of us undergoing the ritual with only the other present. While we understood that this went beyond the bounds of Jewish law, we were grateful MACoM allowed us to do this. During the immersion ritual, we each felt vulnerable, open, and powerfully rooted within Jewish tradition. It marked a moment of transition for each of us as individuals but serving as one another’s guides added an additional layer of meaning. That we were doing this amidst a global pandemic also felt momentous, honoring the fact that our bodies are more than just vectors for disease.

We came out of the mikvah to the cheers of our waiting family members, who whisked us away to a celebratory dinner. While COVID-related stress did not totally dissipate until after the wedding, at that moment we felt lighter, happier, and spiritually prepared to become a Jewishly married couple.