Dear Flatbush Neighbors,
NO – this is not a fundraiser. I am not asking for money. I am writing this letter out of true sadness and perplexity over the recent Mikvah Yisroel campaign that is taking place.
To be completely honest, I do not always use the Mikvah on Ave L (I use the Syrian one sometimes), but at the same time I recognize that this Mikvah certainly is the Ashkenaic Mikvah in Flatbush, and throughout my married life my husband and I have never donated any money to this Mikvah (outside of a usage fee). When we first got married, we lived in an out of town community and the local Mikvah was the one institution that everyone understood was critical for each and every family to support.
The mitzvah of Mikvah is not an easy one to say the least. It is a mitzvah that has been given to us women, and one that should be treated with the utmost respect – not from us women – but from the men of the community. Do men not feel that their wives deserve a nice respectable and beautiful Mikvah?
Two nights ago, my husband and I sat down and decided that this was one of the most integral institutions in our community, and we chose to support it to the best of our financial ability. However, before I decided to write, I did a bit of research as to the need and why this renewal campaign is happening. So allow me to share with you some facts:
- The Mikvah (which was state of the art 25 years ago) is now in desperate need of an upgrade. It needs a new waterproofing system, to fix many years of water damage, new boilers, and new computer system just to name a few major costs.
- Aesthetically, the Mikvah is extremely outdated and many of the preparation rooms are beginning to fall apart due to the extensive wear and tear.
- The Mikvah still services between 1,800 and 2,000 tevilos per month.
- Although I do not have details, I was told that the “wealthy” members of the community already gave extremely generously to this project.
Is this not reason enough?
I took a look at the online campaign this morning (it has been going on for the last 48 hours), and I cannot believe that only about 215 families thought this was important enough of a cause to donate to. Can the Flatbush community, with all the money we have been blessed with, only muster up a little over $100,000 for this campaign? It is beyond embarrassing!!!!
We spend so much money on our homes, cars, simchos, vacations, etc. and good for us. We should! I am not complaining at all about how much money we spend and on what we spend it on, but to see how little we care about this precious institution saddens me to no end.
If the mitzvah of Mikvah was given to men, I have no doubt that the community would raise $5 million overnight and it would be the most spectacular, updated and modern facility possible. The men of the community that have deleted the campaign e mail without donating should be ashamed of themselves, and should really take a moment and think about what their wives go through to perform this mitzvah and how little they value it. The men spend millions of dollars a year on trip to kevarim all over the world, yet when it comes to their wives Mikvah, zero!
In talking to my friends about this, I quickly began to realize that people who don’t want to give have every excuse in the world. “I use the Syrian Mikvah”. “Who needs it to be nice?”. “The parking stinks”. If you want excuses, there are plenty out there.
When you walk into the Mikvah now, there is wall of what looks like a thousand names of people that generously gave so the Mikvah could be built 25 years ago. These are our parents (and in some cases grandparents), yet we either ignore it or give a small token donation.
Think about the size, wealth and generosity (to every other organization) of our community. Only 215 families chose to donate to this. Yes 215! Millions of dollars are given out each year on Purim to everything under the sun. Yet for our own Mikvah, 215 families were able to give a little more than $100,000.
As I’ve said, I’m saddened, perplexed and dismayed by the respect the men of our community have for their wives and for their taharas hamispacha. I guess this isn’t going to make a difference, but at the very least I had to vent about my disgust at our priorities.
Name withheld upon request.
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.
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