A new mikvah in Elstree has been approved for use, despite others being ordered to close for safety reasons during the coronavirus pandemic.
A delegation of doctors attended the Elstree Shtiebel, a synagogue, to inspect the keilim (utensils) mikvah, including Dr Martin Harris of The Temple Fortune Medical Group, approved the mikvah for use.
A mikvah is a Jewish ritual bath, and there are three types – for married Jewish women, following menstruation; for Jewish men; and for kitchenware including cooking utensils, cutlery, crockery, cups and glasses.
Speaking to Jewish News, Mendel Tajtelbaum said his family built the purpose-built state-of-the-art mikvah in their local shul in honour of his mother Ilsa, which can be accessed 24/7 and has space for car-parking.
“We just finished it a few months ago,” he said. “It’s ultra-modern, all electronic, with marble. You push a button and a shutter comes up. Underground we built a big pit, which collects rainwater. It’s all connected. The water’s changed once a week. We’re putting extra chlorine in at the moment.”
He said it was “the only utensil mikvah in north-west London that they’ve allowed” for use during the Covid-19 pandemic, when hygiene has been of primary concern.
“We’ve been surprised. People are coming from far and wide, not just from Elstree but from Golders Green and Hendon, because it’s the only mikvah that has been properly allowed and passed by doctors. We have a cleaner come every day, we provide gloves, we’re using special chlorine it’s all very safe during the crisis.”
Ilsa passed away in January 2019, and the keilim mikvah opened in January of this year, shortly before the pandemic, and Tajtelbaum said the crisis has led to surprising changes in some Jewish community members.
“After I told people about this new mikvah, people who in the past have never used a mikvah for washing cutlery and utensils started taking up,” he said. “We were surprised by how many people came forward. I’m pleased. It’s a mitzvah.”