View Full Version : Expense of building a mikvah (Jewish ritual bath)
09-19-2007, 07:27 AM
But their first priority is building a mikvah, which will cost about $250,000.
Obviously, building a mikvah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikvah) is more involved than, say, an ordinary hot tub. And of course price levels in general are somewhat higher in Alaska (~30% at a guess). But a quarter million bucks? Why so much?
09-19-2007, 07:39 AM
I've never been to one, but a Mikvah isn't just the tub itself, it's the whole building. Think of it as a bathhouse.
09-19-2007, 07:50 AM
Ah, that would explain it. I assumed it was just the tub, water supply, etc., housed in an existing building.
09-19-2007, 07:54 AM
These folks spent $350,000 almost a decade ago. The Mikveh of East Denver was opened on erev Rosh Hashanah, 1998. The mikveh won an award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for its beautiful design. The tevilah pools are oval. The total construction budget was about $350,000.http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/archives5763/REI63amoed.htm
As they have become more popular, fancy once have become more prevalent: http://lubavitch.com/article/2015233/As-Popularity-of-Mikvah-Use-Grows-So-Do-Standards.html
Mikvah construction: http://mikvah.org/inside.asp?id=172
And as you can see, the word refers both to the bath and to the building that encloses it: http://www.emanuelokc.org/mikvah.htm
09-19-2007, 09:20 AM
Ah, that would explain it. I assumed it was just the tub, water supply, etc., housed in an existing building.And the rainwater collection system; a mikveh must include a certain amount of water collected from natural flows. (Which has been interpreted to mean the rainwater cannot be collected with metal pipes, though concrete being generally crushed rock and sand is allowed.)
And funds for ongoing supervision for compliance with religious rules, just like any other aspect of the quality control process.
09-19-2007, 09:57 AM
Here's (http://www.jewishidaho.com/media/pdf/41/BkXG413352.pdf) a breakdown of what it costs to build a Mikvah in Boise, Idaho (warning: pdf). So the linked article actually sounds pretty cheap.
09-19-2007, 12:26 PM
In addition to the above comments:
The minimal requirement for a mikvah is simply one tub made in the proper way, and plumbing to fill it in the proper way. But in actual practice, there are lots of accessories. The building around it is just one. Besides that, most mikvah buildings have at least one (usually lots more) changing rooms in which one can undress and redress, shower and/or bathe prior to immersion in the mikvah. In smaller setups, several of these changing rooms will share one common mikvah, but in larger ones, there will be a larger number of changing rooms sharing several mikvahs. Other options include hair dryers and other cosmetic accessories.
Summarize: A relatively inexpensive mikvah can be a hole in the floor of the synagogue's basement. Top of the line can be quite fancy.
09-19-2007, 12:43 PM
I'm assuming there would have to be two completely separate sections for men and women and possibly a third for cooking utensils?
09-19-2007, 01:38 PM
irishgirl: By fortunate coincidence of how Jewish practice has developed over time, nowadays men only use the mikvah during the daytime, and women only at night, so that is usually not a problem. On the other hand, there are some communities where the men go much more frequently than the women, and therefore they need a larger one, and in some of those communities they have built a separate one for men. In addition, there is an "ick" factor, by which I mean that many women don't want to use facilities which men have used. (Ever notice in some restaurants, they have a one-person men's room and a one-person women's room? I always wondered why it has to be labeled if only one person uses it at a time. This is why.)
A separate one for kitchen utensils is another purely practical matter. Any mikvah that women can use is also kosher for utensils. But there's a major safety issue if any glass breaks or knives fall to the bottom. And having a chest-high mikvah for utensils is a lot more convenient then bending down to dunk them in the floor-level pool. Again, it comes down to whatthe community wants and can afford.
09-19-2007, 02:27 PM
In addition, there is an "ick" factor, by which I mean that many women don't want to use facilities which men have used.
This is truer for mikva than with most things, I think. When women use the mikva, they're doing it because because it's a mitzva, with rules attached, so they go through all the preparations for it, basically an incredibly careful cleaning, with bathing, makeup removal, making sure you don't have any little bits of adhesive left on you from a band-aid, etc. Women at the mikva are as clean as humanly possible, and I don't mind getting in the same mikva that other women have used that evening because I know they're much cleaner than they'd be if we were, say, swimming in the same pool. In modern times (if there were a Temple it'd be different), men are going because it's customary in their community, or because they want to, and so don't have any requirements with regard to prep - they can just go and plop themselves in. I've heard that because of this, men's mikvas can get a little gross, with floating hairs, dirty water, etc., and I wouldn't want to use something like that unless I had to.
The community in which I grew up had one mikva facility, with two actual mikvas. However, this is not a community in which it's customary for men to go to mikva, except perhaps before the High Holy Days. It was pretty inconvenient that there was no dish mikva, though - it was only available for dishes one morning a month, or by special arrangement. My current, larger community has three facilities, one for women (with six prep rooms and two mikvas, although I think they only use one on any given evening), one for men (I've never seen it, for obvious reasons), and a dish mikva. Dish mikvas tend to be a little gross as well, because nobody's bathing in them, so the water is rarely changed, but it's much more convenient - you don't even have to bend over to use it, let alone go wading, or lowering things in baskets on ropes like you would in a mikva intended for people.
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