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East County Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019 5 days ago

Manatee County's first mikvah opens

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Ceremonial bath for Jewish women built by Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Chanie Bukiet, the program director for Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch, has celebrated the “milestone of a lifetime.”

As she stood before extended family and fellow members of the Jewish community Nov. 17, she welcomed them to celebrate the opening of Manatee County’s first mikvah, a ceremonial bath for Jewish women.

“It’s a foundation of Jewish life,” Bukiet said of the mikvah. “It’s about bringing God into your life.”

The $530,000 mikvah building includes a preparation room with a bathtub and shower and separate room for the mikvah, which looks like a small pool. It offers a spa-like experience for the women who use it.

In accordance with Judaism, the mikvah must hold at least 200 gallons of natural water, so Chabad worked with experts on the design. An underground tub holds rainwater collected on the property, while the tub above is chlorinated and purified.

Bukiet’s husband, Rabbi Mendy Bukiet, said Jewish custom stresses the importance of the mikvah is so great that a community should sell its

The mikvah is a ceremonial bath for women. In accordance with Judaism, the mikvah must hold at least 200 gallons of natural water so this one is designed with rainwater in a separate pool below the chlorinated one used by guests.

synagogue and Torah scrolls to get one, if it must.

“The mikvah is a blessing that impacts the community,” he said.

Chanie Bukiet noted that of the 613 commandments God gave the Jewish people, only three are aimed specifically at women — kindling the Shabbat and festive candles, taking challah and following the laws of keeping kosher, and the laws of family life.

Although many of the laws might sometimes feel mundane, the mikvah is a special gift to Jewish women that gives them a time of serenity, peace and joy.

Chabad’s mikvah is named for Mendy Bukiet’s late grandmother, Esther Bukiet.

The mikvah is the first part of a larger vision Mendy and Chanie Bukiet have for their 5-acre campus at 5712 Lorraine Road.

Chabad already holds services and educational programming on the property, which also houses a storage building and the family’s home. Eventually, they hope it will hold a new temple, a youth center and a hospitality house for guests of Chabad.

The hospitality house will actually be part of the overall 1,800-square-foot mikvah building and will take up about 900 square feet and offer two rooms for guest.

Chanie Bukiet said Chabad hopes to have it open within a year, but it is contingent on funding.

Total improvements, including the mikvah, are estimated at $4 million and should be built in the next five to 10 years, or as funding becomes available. The Chabad is run entirely on donations.

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