This wonderful piece is contributed by Elizabeth Diament, a former DCJCC colleague who directed the Anne Loeb Bronfman Gallery and has been working since as a Museum Educator at the National Gallery of Art. She is also a member of the Kemp Mill Synagogue. Here’s her eloquent, brief essay:
My grandparents built a mikvah. It was a tiny mikvah for just one woman, the very last woman who could use a mikvah. Most of the others had been taken away. The year was 1943, in Hamburg, Germany. My grandparents had already been seperated from their four children for four years. They would never see them again. Yet they risked their lives to build a mikvah because it was still neccessary in a Jewish community. For my grandparents, Ketty and David, it was about the future, even though they doubted theirs. It was about the past because hundreds of generations of women before them had performed the mitzvah of tevilah (ritual immersion) in a mikvah. It was about the present because what else could they do, desperate, hungry, their lives diminished? They could find hope in enabling this mitzvah to be performed. So they built a mikvah. They built my yerusha, my inheritance, because it is the knowledge of this dangerous, crazy, beautiful act of belief in G-d and His law, and resistance to evil that has sustained and inspired me more than sixty years later.