By COLlive reporter in Crown Heights
A crowd of 250 men, women and children showed up on a sunny Sunday for the groundbreaking ceremony of the new women’s Mikvah Mei Chaya Mushkah in Crown Heights.
Police blocked off the corner of Troy and Lefferts Avenues, where the $1.5 million project will be built, as participants took to their seats or remained standing with a baby stroller in check.
There was a sense of relief felt as Dudi Farkash took to the microphone. The Gabbai of Congregation Bais Shmuel Chabad, which is spearheading the project, made it seem the dream was going to be real.
“Many people in our community sit around tables and sigh about all of the problems we have,” the shul’s Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson said in his remarks.
“Kudos to a group of courageous souls who decided to act instead of philosophize. This is the time to strengthen family purity, holiness and love in our community.”
Slightly hinting to the elections taking place the same day, Jacobson added: “We need more purity, more holiness, more love. Hence the new mikvah.”
A slew of elder rabbis were present, showing their support for the need and congratulating the initiative.
Chairman of Igud Harabonim Rabbi Avrohom Hecht, the Rebbe’s secretary Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, the Jerusalem Posek Rabbi Yekusiel Farkash, Crown Heights’ Rabbi Yaacov Schwei and Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky were present.
The event opened with Rabbi Bogomilsky reading a moving letter from the Rebbe where he explained that Mikvah was the only topic the Chabad Rebbes would rule themselves Halacha L’maase.
Mentioning the effort to build Mikvahs in Communist Russia, he said that “even if one couple will increase in observance of family purity because of this new Mikvah, which promises to be stunning, it is well worth it.”
Rabbi Farkash read the Rebbe’s kapitel in Tehillim, while Rabbi Schwei offered his own blessings. “May you be strong and finish it very soon,” he told the group of members financing the project.
A single major contribution came from Mr. Faivish Pewzner, a health care executive, who with his wife pledged $360,000 in memory of his father, R’ Hillel Pewzner obm, whose first yahrzeit is on the 14th of Tammuz.
Sprinkling some Smirnoff vodka for a L’Chaim over the gravel, key supporters and the children were invited to use shovels to shift the earth over the cornerstone.
“We’ll see you at the opening very soon,” the emcee announced as the crowd mingled and headed to the refreshments tables.