The Mikvah of West Denver, originally located behind the Historic Lake Steam Baths in the late 1800s until moving to Julian St., relocated to its current address at 1404 Quitman St. in 1960.
For over 100 years, Jewish women have entered the Westside Mikvah to fulfill the monthly mitzvah of ritual immersion. The spiritually elevating experience has never grown old — but buildings are different.
The last renovation of the mikveh occurred in 1999, according to Zera Abraham’s Rabbi Tzvi Steinberg, rabbinical supervisor of the mikveh.
“Over the years it had become outdated; a bit grungy — certainly not the décor we wanted for our mikveh,” he says of the decision to invest in an extensive and more spacious redo.
The $90,000 top-to-bottom restoration of the women’s side of the Westside Mikvah, funded by private donors, foundations and individuals, was completed last month.
“We did a major overhaul of the women’s mikveh: the floors, ceiling, tiles, plumbing fixtures, lighting, as well as significant repairs to the immersion pools themselves,” Steinberg says.
“Now we have a mikveh that has the luxurious feel of a spa with upgraded aesthetics and services. It’s a concierge approach.”
For example, female patrons may now book appointments online as well as over the phone. Privacy is guaranteed.
The minimalistic yet stunning ambience at the revamped mikveh matches the purity of its function — but the process entails much more than a cosmetic facelift.
Rabbi Dovid Sauer supervised halachic requirements throughout the renovation. “The kashrus of the mikveh impeccable,” Steinberg says.
According to conservative estimates, about 600 women and men visit the separate mikveh on an annual basis.
Rivka (not her real name) has been going to the Westside Mikvah for nearly 22 years. Aware of the changes, she had no idea they would be so extensive and lovely until she saw them.
“I was really surprised,” she says. “Before, it was all mauve colored, outdated, with Formica counter tops. Now it’s luxurious and actually feels like a very soothing, calming time.”
The prep room is where women take showers, wash their hair, remove makeup, nail polish and brush their teeth in order to eradicate all interpositions (external buffers) before entering the immersion pool.
“There can be no barriers between us and the water,” Rivka explains.
Prior to the renovation, users made do with outmoded fixtures, dim lighting and worn tile.
The minimalist, well-lit décor is a welcome change, both aesthetically and spiritually, for these women.
“It makes me think of the concept of hiddur mitzvah,” Rivka says of the new environment. “You’re not just doing a mitzvah. You are doing it with contentment and extra love,” she says.
“It’s like the sukkah. First you build it and then you decorate it. Decorating is a hiddur mitzvah, as is giving tzedakah with a smile.”
The renovations “show women how loved and valued we are by the community, and how much we value this special mitzvah,” she says.
“It feels pleasurable going into a nice place. You’re not just taking care of a mitzvah — you’re enjoying it.”
Steinberg, who describes himself as old-fashioned more than once, notes that Zera Abraham has been around since 1887.
“But at the same time we celebrate the idea of combining an uplifting and spiritual mitzvah with an enjoyable experience,” he says.
Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News