By Baltimore Jewish Examiner
“May their merit be a blessing for all those who immerse in these waters,” will be the message adorning the renovated Mikvah Mei Menachem on Old Pimlico.
The ritual bath just underwent a beautification in honor of Rabbi Gavi and Rivky Holtzberg who was killed in the Mumbai terror attack of 2008. Mrs. Holtzberg and her husband ran Nariman House, the Jewish outreach center in India.
The renovated mikvah is state of the art, with aqua tiling and stone décor. Outdoor lighting sets an intimate tone to the immersion bath, with deep green plants strategically placed.
The renovation was not inexpensive, said Rochelle Kaplan, who oversaw the project. However, vendors and carpenters gave her many of the materials at cost, understanding how important the beautification is. Each dollar brought in for general mikvah use was put towards the endeavor.
“Terrorism breaks all barriers,” said Mrs. Kaplan.
The idea to beautify the mikvah came to Mrs. Kaplan shortly after the attack, which killed over 100 people. She said as she contemplated the short life of the Holtzbergs, she knew the local Chabad community needed to respond, that action had to be taken. She chose the mikvah because its inherent purity and spirituality is reflective of the Holtzbergs’ life.
“Nariman House was a place for Jews from all walks of life who were seeking spirituality. Many people who came through the doors reconnected to Judaism,” said Mrs. Kaplan.
“Women are empowered in Judaism through the mikvah. … This is the place where you can find your inner self.”
Roughly 40 people a week utilize Mikvah Mei Menachem, many of them brides and first time mikvah goers. Mrs. Kaplan said the experience is “amazing and liberating.”
Chabad Lubvatich of Baltimore will be holding a unique luncheon and ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 1, calling women together in the Holtzberg’s honor – one year since their death. The public ceremony begins at 11 a.m. and is free, with a suggested donation of $18. At 12 p.m., there will be an exclusive luncheon and program with a special guest. The luncheon is $54.
For more information or to make a reservation, call 410-415-5113 or email [email protected]
“We need to stand together,” said Mrs. Kaplan. “The Jewish community needs unity.”