Award-winning mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin launched a new community mikveh in Barnet this week.
The Wellspring Project UK (previously Mikveh Project UK) provides immersion pools for the traditional ritual as well as complementary therapies.
More than 250 people from across the world joined an online launch event to hear from activists in the field of mental health discuss the healing powers of the mikveh.
Benjamin spoke about his mental health struggles and the power of rituals to help with self-care. In a pre-recorded interview, he described the benefits of Wellspring as a space that offers an alternative to traditional mental health care. “Wellspring gives the opportunity to really be, to not feel rushed or pressured to get to a certain point. It’s so rare in this world for people to have the opportunity to really be and be held by people and the space around them, to find that place of deep care and love,” he said.
The mikveh, which will be a space for people of all age, gender, faith or non-religious beliefs, will use rituals such as immersion to promote good mental health and recovery.
Miriam Berger, principal Rabbi of Finchley Reform Synagogue, who chaired the event, spoke about how the mikveh and its traditional ritual of immersion helped her heal following learning of her infertility.
She told the audience that she believes a mikveh should be open for all people and is important for promoting good mental health.
“When we’re dealing with mental health it needs to be seen as somewhere that is a public space – that it’s not a taboo, but also somewhere you can be completely private … to do something private in a public space. A place that welcomes you in but isn’t judging you.”
The event also featured author of ‘The Red Tent’, Anita Diamant and founding president of Mayyim Hayyim – Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center near Boston, Massachusetts. She talked about how the mikveh has always been used for non-traditional uses, whether by people visiting before surgery or in the last trimester of pregnancy.
Rabba Dina Brawer, founder of JOFA UK and the UK’s first female Orthodox rabbi, also joined from her home in the US.
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