Construction Started for New Mikvah in Canberra

July 2, 2010 by Rabbi Dan Avital
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First Mikvah for Canberra…

Canberra, Australia – Last year, at the behest of Rabbi Aharon Serebryanski, a leading Chabad rabbi  in Melbourne, as is the way for the families of young Chabad Rabbis committed to the Chabad mission, young Rabbi Dan and his wife Naomi Avital were sent to Canberra, Australia. Landing in a city unknown to them, belongings packed into their car, they embarked on establishing a life for themselves, and to build the foundations of the first permanent Chabad community in Australia’s Capital.  “Many of my counterparts are sent to farflung countries where they don’t speak the local language, or the climate is extreme and infrastructure poor”, said Rabbi Avital. “We count ourselves lucky to stay within Australia, only a short flight from family, and to speak the local language. We’re also lucky that a Jewish community already existed in Canberra, which allowed us to tap into some infrastructure, such as kosher food suppliers, Jewish media, and an Jewish student community”.

Now, fifteen months since their arrival, festival by festival, occasion by occasion, a community is starting to congregate around the Rabbi and his young family (which happily now includes one year old Chaya). They have hosted many successful events and functions, reaching out to the local congregants as well as political and diplomatic communities.

One of the Avitals’ stated goals was to build the first kosher Mikvah in the nation’s capital. Finally, this goal is becoming a reality. Last week the first steps in the construction process began, as the demolition of an old house in Giralang took place, clearing the site for the new building. The construction is estimated to be completed in mid December.  Rabbi Avital said “We are incredibly excited at having started building the first Mikvah in Canberra. Many of the local women, diplomatic families, interstate and international visitors have been waiting for this for many years. We have seen a tremendous growth in the community and participation in our events over this year and we believe this is the right time for this extraordinary development.”

The new building will contain two Mikvaot (Ritual baths) and three bathrooms. The Mikvah will be attended by Rebbitzin Naomi Avital who has undergone training in Melbourne’s Mikvah Chaya Mushka. She said “I am looking forward to serving the women of the community in such a special and unique manner. I will be running several adult education programs to focus on the immense beauty and depth of this very personal mitzvah. I don’t want it to be some obscure, archaic ritual that women seek to avoid – I want people to see what a vital and enlivening component of their marriages and lives Mikvah truly is”.

It is planned that the Mikvah will be operational in mid to late January.

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