Since 2011, the Jewish community of Stamford has operated a state-of-the-art mikvah, enhancing Jewish life in the area. The Minnie Manger—Marcia Lieberman Mikvah is located behind Congregation Agudath Sholom. The facility is dedicated in memory of a beloved mother and daughter, Minnie Manger, z"l, and Marcia Lieberman, z"l.
“When people think about moving to a neighborhood, people want to find a community that has all the resources of a strong Jewish community. The first thing any Jewish community must build is a mikvah,” stated Rabbi Daniel Cohen of Congregation Agudath Sholom, who oversees the mikvah. “The previous mikvah was built in the 1960s, on the shul’s property, by Rabbi Ehrenkranz. Unfortunately, not many women were using the mikvah, as the mikvah was dark, with little changing space. As the community grew, many women were finding the mikvah not appealing and were going to other communities to use their mikvahs. With an eye toward the future of the Jewish community of Stamford, we set out to raise funds toward a new mikvah. We wanted to create a beautiful mikvah on par with any other mikvah.”
When the community began its fundraising efforts, the B.L. Manger Foundation stepped in as the lead donor. The B. L. Manger Foundation Inc. is a charitable foundation established by Bernard L. Manger, z”l for Jewish charitable, philanthropic, religious and educational purposes. Ben, z"l, and Faye Manger were longtime residents of Stamford where Faye still lives. She recently celebrated her 96th birthday.
“We were very pleased to have supported the construction of the new mikvah in Stamford through my father’s charitable foundation,” explained Renee Manger. “We knew it was a worthy tribute to my grandmother, Minnie, and my Aunt Marcia, Sen. Joe Lieberman's mother, to name this mikvah after them. There was a time in Stamford when very few women made use of the mikvah on a regular basis and the women in my father’s family who were longstanding members of the Stamford Jewish Community were amongst them. They understood and observed the laws of family purity and understood the family values inherent in the observance of those laws. I know they would have been thrilled to see so many young Jewish families moving into Stamford, but they would not have been surprised to know this growth took place shortly after the community built a new mikvah. They were always strong advocates of the position that a Jewish community cannot thrive without the existence of a mikvah.”
Cohen explained that the current mikvah was constructed to meet the strictest specifications of Jewish law and is under the halachic authority of Rabbi Yirmiyahu Katz. The mikvah is open to the entire Jewish community, and is also used to facilitate conversions. The ongoing cost of maintaining the mikvah is supported not just by the Orthodox community, but by both the local Reform and Conservative communities of Stamford as well. “The user fee does not cover our operating costs and so the Mayim League was created as a way to fund the mikvah,” explained Jessica Batkin, who leads the mikvah committee. “Donations of any size are welcome and donations above a certain amount allow the donor use of the mikvah for the year as well.”
Further, Cohen added, “Over the years Stamford has become a conference hub, with many women traveling through; we have been a resource to these women. We believe the new mikvah has helped in the growth and expansion of the Stamford Jewish community.” The new mikvah has also been a catalyst for mikvah education. Rabbi Cohen and Dena Block, Stamford’s Yoetzet, teach classes on mikvah use and topics connected to intimacy. The mikvah is also available for bridal appointments. “Having a gorgeous new mikvah has helped enhance the mitzvah for women from Stamford and surrounding communities.“It’s so nice to be able to be in a community with a beautiful, clean and warm mikvah,” stated Batkin. Along with a dedicated shomeret and other volunteers, Batkin’s team ensures the mikvah is immaculate and well stocked at all times.
In addition to two comfortable preparation rooms and a well-maintained mikvah, there is a separate side entrance for a keilim mikvah.
The mikvah is available for women seven evenings a week by appointment. Additional information on the Stamford mikvah can be found on the website at stamfordmikvah.org.
By Judy Berger