When Rabbi Yitzchak Mendel Wagner became Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Krefeld, Germany, one thing was clear to him from the start: the community needed a Mikvah as soon as possible.
“The construction of a mikvah actually has priority over the construction of a synagogue, but, theory and practice often differ,” notes Wagner. “Mikvaot are by far not as easy to find in German communities as in America,” he says.
For a long time, the women from Krefeld used the mikvah in Antwerp, Belgium.
Because the mikvah has to be visited after sunset, it is not always easy, particularly in the middle of the summer (when a mikvah visit can first take place after 11:00 p.m.), to travel the nearly two hours to Antwerp.
A few years ago, a Mikvah was built in the nearby city of Cologne, but Cologne is nearly one hour from Krefeld.
Therefore, to popularize the Mitzvah of family purity in the community, there was only one option: to build the community’s own Mikvah.
The community board was thrilled with the idea from the outset. There was only one problem: no money.
Then, just after the decision was made to build a new Mikvah, it was certainly no coincidence that Rabbi Wagner visited a Rabbinical conference at the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) in Paris just at that time.
At the conference, he learned that the RCE was supporting the construction of 25 new Mikvas in Europe. Twenty-four cities had already registered for the project. Krefeld then became the twenty-fifth.
Rabbi Wagner returned from Paris with EUR 45,000 in assistance from this fund.
EUR 45,000 is a lot of money, though unfortunately not enough by far to build a Mikvah from scratch.
Still, as Rabbi Wagner says, “We don’t believe in miracles, we rely on them.”
…miracles such as Jews (Holocaust survivors) formerly from Krefeld who returned to their home city for the first time and viewed supporting a Mikvah as the greatest revenge on the Nazis.
…miracles such as a Jewish businessman who visited the community for a shabbos and donated EUR 10,000 as a thank you.
…miracles such as a Jew from London who on Purim donated over EUR 5,000 for a Mikvah in a city whose name he couldn’t even properly pronounce.
…miracles such as a Chassid from New York who suddenly bought a shopping center in Krefeld and donated the total residual amount needed for the Mikvah during his very first visit to the community.
With these small and large miracles, the Krefeld community was ultimately able to turn the Mikvah from a dream into reality.
Under the Halachic direction of Dayan Katz from Borough Park, the shliach from Cologne, Rav Mendel Schtroks, and the architect Elozar Raichik from Crown Heights, the new Krefeld mikvah opened a few weeks ago.
As the Rebbe said, “There are no obstacles in life, only challenges to overcome!”