Alternative Mikveh Ceremony Before a Wedding

It was the night before my friend’s big day. The wedding party was running around trying to get last minute items put together. I, the flower lady, was frantically trying to keep the flowers watered and alive until they went down the aisle the next day. At 11pm the night before the wedding we found ourselves in my friend’s hotel room, reflecting on the day and envisioning tomorrow when one of us said, “Did you remember to go to the mikveh?”

For centuries, brides have been going to the mikveh the night before their weddings to prepare themselves to be a pure bride for their husband. For us, mikveh was not only about purity but about marking transition; my friend was entering a life-long commitment with her best friend. Her married life was just beginning while her single life was ending. There was no better way to mark this than with a visit to the mikveh. But we all knew the nearest mikveh was probably hours away and not open at 11pm. So, being Reconstructionists, we decided to reconstruct the mikveh ritual.

The following is an alternative mikveh ritual which can be done with any water source. Traditionally a mikveh has running water, natural water mixed with treated water, and a space in which the whole body can be submerged. We used a bathtub (a large jacuzzi tub to insure the entire body could be submerged), a running water spout, and a bottle of natural spring water.


Persons needed: bride or groom, reader, and someone to pour the springwater.

Bride or Groom: Remove all clothing, jewelry, nail polish, etc…

Dip #1: Kavanah/Intention:
Reader: Reflect on all the events, people, and moments that have led up to this time.

Bride/Groom: spends some time reflecting on kavanah and when they are ready they fully submerge in the water.

While the bridge/groom is dipping:
1: leave the tap running
2: do not plug the bottom of the tub
3: someone pour 1/3 of the natural spring water over the head of the person submerging (you can use natural spring bottled water)

Watch for the person’s entire body (hair and all) to submerge under the water. If the person has fully submerged say outloud: kosher.
If the person has not fully submerged ask them to dip again.

After the bride/groom has completed Dip #1:

Bride/Groom recites outloud:  בּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְשָׁנוּ בּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ עַל הַטְבִילָה

          Transliteration: Barukh ata adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al hatevilah.

          English: Blessed are You, Adonai, Ruler of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with the mitzvot and commanded us concerning immersion.

 

Dip #2: Kavanah/Intention:
Reader: Reflect on how you are currently feeling and where you are at this moment. Focus and feel the love and support around you both in this room and people who are here for your wedding.

Bride/Groom: spends some time reflecting on kavanah and when they are ready they fully submerge in the water.

While the bridge/groom is dipping: 
1: leave the tap running
2: do not plug the bottom of the tub
3: someone pour 1/3 of the natural spring water over the head of the person submerging (you can use natural spring bottled water)

Watch for the person’s entire body (hair and all) to submerge under the water. If the person has fully submerged say outloud: kosher
If the person has not fully submerged ask them to dip again.

 

Dip #3: Kavanah/Intention: 
Read the following before the person submerges.

Reader: Envision your future: the hopes, dreams, desires, and excitement you will share with your beloved.

Bride/Groom: spends some time reflecting on kavanah and when they are ready they fully submerge in the water.

While the bridge/groom is dipping: 
1: leave the tap running
2: do not plug the bottom of the tub
3: someone pour 1/3 of the natural spring water over the head of the person submerging (you can use natural spring bottled water)

Watch for the person’s entire body (hair and all) to submerge under the water. If the person has fully submerged say outloud: kosher
If the person has not fully submerged ask them to dip again.

After Dip #3 is complete, bride/groom says outloud:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לזְּמַן הַזֶּה

               Transliteration: Barukh ata adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam sheheheyanu, vekimanu, vehigiyanu lazman hazeh.

               English: Blessed are You, Source of all Life, Who has kept us alive and sustained us, and enabled us to reach this day.

 

Sing Together: siman tov/mazal tov!!!

Siman tov umazal tov
Umazal tov vesiman tov

(x3)
Yehe lanu.

Yehe lanu, yehe lanu
Ulekhol Yisrael.

(x2)

Good sign, and good luck
And good luck and good sign
(x3)
will come to us.

It will come to us, to us
And to all Israel.
(x2)

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