A 21st Century Mikvah

Message from Rabbi Jason Nevarez & Rabbi/Cantor Bernstein

Architectural Renderings

FAQs

Educational Opportunities

 

Building for the Future: Campaign Overview

Twenty-three years after the groundbreaking for our beautiful Congregation Beth Israel campus on Towne Centre Drive in 2000, temple members must face the necessary challenges of maintaining our buildings adequately and appropriately. At the same time, our temple has a unique opportunity to construct a mikvah on the Beth Israel campus and establish a mikvah program for our membership and for the greater San Diego Jewish community.

To address needed campus renovations and to establish a building endowment fund, as well as to create a new mikvah and initiate a mikvah program, Beth Israel is embarking on a $12 million capital, endowment, and program campaign. Included in the campaign goal is approximately $5 million in renovation of our aging facility, the necessity for a $2 million building endowment, and $4.7 million for a state-of-the-art mikvah and mikvah program.

 

Campus Restoration: The Need

The overarching goal of campus restoration is to ensure the Beth Israel facilities are preserved and maintained at a high standard while enhancing its aesthetic character. The Glickman-Galinson Sanctuary, Foster Family Chapel, Lee and Frank Goldberg Religious School, Bill and Sid Rubin Preschool, David and Dorothea Garfield Social Hall, Feuerstein Family Activity Center, Evelyn and Ernest Rady Family Administrative Center, and Epstein Family Conference Room are all in need of update and restoration. Examples include HVAC and elevator updates, new roofing, bathroom remodel, carpet and flooring, and furniture replacement. By raising needed funds, Beth Israel will alleviate major issues regarding underlying financial requirements for upkeep and care, especially as it relates to large capital expenditures.

A $2 million building endowment will provide, on a regular basis and in perpetuity, almost half of the current annual operating expense needed for facility maintenance and repair.

The Mikvah at Beth Israel: A 21st Century Mikvah

Beth Israel’s mikvah will be housed in a new, separate, beautifully designed building adjacent to the Foster Family Chapel. At approximately 1,200 square feet, the building will be enveloped with sunlight and surrounded by the Biblical Garden. Inside the building will be a lobby, meditation room, shower, changing room, as well as the mikvah itself.

The Beth Israel mikvah will focus on four main areas:

• Meeting the requirements of religious observance and conversion.

• Providing learning opportunities for adults and youth.

• Creating a sacred space to stimulate spiritual growth and interest in Jewish practice and rituals.

• Acting as a resource for members of Beth Israel and the general San Diego Jewish community and beyond.

A MESSAGE FROM RABBI JASON NEVAREZ AND RABBI/CANTOR BERNSTEIN
A 21st century mikvah? Revitalizing a sacred tradition

Our vision of a mikvah at Beth Israel both reclaims and reimagines one of Judaism’s most ancient rituals–immersion in the mikvah.

The importance for Jews of ritual immersion in living waters (mayim hayim) can be traced to biblical sources. Wherever Jews settled, they established cemeteries and mikva’ot, even before they built their houses of worship. According to some Jewish sources, building mikva’ot takes precedence over building synagogues.

Today, many find that immersion has become a way to use Jewish ritual to enhance their lives and enrich their spirituality. Our 21st century mikvah will be created for contemporary spiritual use and for traditional ritual purposes. We are excited to teach all who are interested about this critical resource. The mikvah will be a sacred and safe space that is open and accessible to the non-Orthodox San Diego Jewish community.

Ritual immersion connotes a change of status. More recently, reimagined mikvah practices have come to play an increasingly significant role in the spiritual and communal lives of non-Orthodox American Jews. The strong association between water and life is even evident in its shared Hebrew roots, Tikvah, offering everyone who uses it, or who volunteers to help in a ritual immersion, a connection of hope.

A mikvah, open to Beth Israel and the wider non-Orthodox Jewish community, would meet a broad range of needs. In 2023-24 alone, our Introduction to Judaism class contains the largest enrollment in our history. Many of these students are planning to convert to Judaism, and mikvah immersion is the final, required ritual in becoming a Jew.

In addition to traditional uses of the mikvah such as couples immersing before their wedding ceremonies and individuals at the time of conversion, new uses of mikvah immersion include celebrations of milestone events such as graduations, significant birthdays or anniversaries, and marking the end of a period of study. Additionally, immersion in the mikvah can signify a new, spiritual start in the aftermath of pain and trauma, marking the end of formal grieving or the beginning of healing from events such as miscarriage, chemotherapy, completing a year of bereavement, or recovering from divorce, assault, or abuse.

Our goal is for visitors to the mikvah to emerge refreshed and renewed, ready for what life will bring them next. And while the ocean or the bay are acceptable “waters” for immersion (at certain times of year), they do not provide the safety, cleanliness, privacy, warmth, or emotional opportunity a mikvah offers.

As the oldest and largest synagogue in San Diego, Beth Israel serves as a hub for thousands of visitors every year from wedding and B’nei mitzvah families to groups from educational settings eager to learn about various religions and life practices.

The mikvah will enhance educational opportunities for members and visitors alike. In addition, an integral component of our modern mikvah will give our congregants the opportunity for meaningful volunteer experiences at all levels.

We invite you to help us bring our vision and this critical need to Beth Israel and our greater San Diego Jewish community. The opportunity to share a beautiful and uplifting Jewish ritual, with water, a life-affirming element for all, is priceless.

The Mikvah at Beth Israel: Architectural Renderings

 

 

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE FAQs

 

WHY DO WE NEED A BUILDING CAMPAIGN AND HOW DID THE MIKVAH IDEA BECOME A PART OF IT?

The need for a building campaign to raise funds for our 20-year-old campus has been under discussion for some time. In 2017 Beth Israel engaged in a reserve study to assess needs over an extended period and to help gauge long-term costs. The plan was to launch the campaign in 2020, but the pandemic hit, and we needed to refocus our efforts to address more critical needs. The idea of a progressive mikvah re-emerged as an important need as well. The Board voted in the summer of 2023 to approve the campaign effort, inclusive of the mikvah idea.

WHAT IS A MIKVAH?

A mikvah is a pool of natural waters in which one immerses for a variety of reasons with the ultimate goals of renewal and transformation.

WHAT IS A PROGRESSIVE, MODERN MIKVAH?

In the 21st century, mikvah has become a renewed practice for progressive Jews throughout the United States who desire to use Jewish ritual to enhance their lives and enrich their spirituality. The act of immersion allows the individual to play an active role in an individual’s own spiritual journey, and to repurpose ancient ritual in new and creative ways that are meaningful in the context of contemporary Jewish life.

View the complete list of FAQs here

 

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

 

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2024, 10 – 11 A.M.

Panel Discussion with Rabbis Nevarez and Bernstein, Dan Jones and Lesley Mills, Diverse Access.

Please join us for the first panel discussion. Our panelists will share information on various topics:

  • Restoring and renovating our beautiful campus.
  • Building a mikvah and creating a mikvah program.
  • Increasing our building endowment fund to maintain our state-of-the-art facility.
REGISTER

 

 

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 27, 2024, 7 – 8 P.M.

Women of Beth Israel Rosh Chodesh – Immerse yourself in a conversation about the Mikvah with Rabbi Cantor Arlene Bernstein presented by Women of Beth Israel.  Zoom Only.

Please join us for an engaging conversation about the mikvah with Rabbi Cantor Bernstein. We will learn about the history of the mikvah and the important role the mikvah plays for Jews in the 21st century.

Rabbi Cantor Bernstein will discuss the meaning of the mikvah and why one might choose to immerse, renderings of the proposed mikvah for our Beth Israel campus will be shared, and we will hear more about the ways a mikvah will benefit our congregation and the broader San Diego Jewish community. Some individual immersion experiences will be shared, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions. Read more.

We ask that everyone come prepared with a glass of water to symbolize the natural waters in which one immerses with the goals of renewal and transformation.

REGISTER

 

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2024, 7 – 8 P.M.

Panel Discussion with Rabbis Nevarez and Bernstein, Dan Jones and Lesley Mills. Zoom Only.

Please join us for this virtual panel discussion. Our panelists will share information on various topics:

  • Restoring and renovating our beautiful campus.
  • Building a mikvah and creating a mikvah program.
  • Increasing our building endowment fund to maintain our state-of-the-art facility.
REGISTER

 

 

TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2024, 6 – 7:30 P.M.

Special Meeting of the Congregation, Diverse Access.

REGISTER