NEW YORK – The mikvah has undergone dramatic transformation over the past several decades as community leaders upgrade facilities to make the experience more comfortable and convenient for women. As part of an initiative to address the mikvah experience from a psycho-social perspective, the OU Women’s Initiative, a division of the Orthodox Union, is providing professional development opportunities for mikvah attendants so that they are better prepared for a variety of experiences that their clients are going through which relate to their mikvah experience.
The OU Women’s Initiative recently held a training session in New York for 40 tri-state area attendants titled, “Sense and Sensitivity” where discussions focused on some of the more delicate and complex issues facing women in the community including domestic violence, cancer, mental health, fertility, miscarriage and postpartum depression, and how these relate to their experience at the mikvah. Topics included using language wisely and sensitively when relating to clients, addressing the medical-related needs of an ill client, supporting the obsessive-compulsive client, handling the client’s challenges of postpartum depression, miscarriage, infertility and menopause.
As a result of its success, the OU Women’s Initiative will be doing a separate training in New Jersey and plans to create a webinar series so that mikvah attendants from all over the world can participate. The program was originally piloted in Lower Merion, a suburb of Philadelphia for attendants from the Greater Philadelphia area.
“Today’s modern woman is multi-faceted and today’s mikvah attendants need to have diverse experience and training with the complex issues facing women in our community for women to feel safe and supported when going to the mikvah,” said Founding Director of the OU Women’s Initiative Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman. “The OU Women’s Initiative’s goal is to provide opportunities for female leadership in our community and mikvah attendants are a core pillar of our communities. By providing this training, they will be better able to support the women in their communities.”
About the Orthodox Union
Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union, (OU), serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY and Birthright Israel/Israel Free Spirit trip organizer, and Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, among many other divisions and programs.