Greenwood Village, DENVER—Amid synagogue closures and virtual programming, one essential Jewish facility has remained open: the Mizel Community Mikvah for Women at Aish of the Rockies. A mikvah is a small pool consisting of natural water, symbolizing rebirth, which is utilized as part of Jewish marital life and other spiritual and ritual milestones.
“Of all the Jewish institutions, it’s the women’s mikvahs that have stayed open,” noted Vicki Olesky, the mikvah’s manager. “I’m moved to tears when I think about being to keep this mikvah open with all that’s going on.”
The Mizel Community Mikvah, named for one of Denver’s leading philanthropic families, is located in the main Aish of the Rockies building but has a discrete – and discreet – entrance. It has been open nightly, by appointment only, since its inception in 2008. The mikvah water is pristinely maintained and kept at a comfortable 100 degrees, the private dressing rooms are spotless, and the lobby includes a lending library. Sensitively trained attendants offer respectful assistance to women of any background or level of Jewish knowledge. Mrs. Olesky, who devotes at least 25 hours of volunteer time to the mikvah each week, created the ambiance of a spa by choosing bright décor, anticipating mikvah clients’ needs, designing the flow of the facility to ensure privacy, and training attendants, who are all volunteers.
“Our mikvah sets the standard in construction, management, and etiquette,” Aish of the Rockies COO Zev Jacobs reflected. “It’s really unique and state-of-the-art.”
To make sure it is truly inclusive, the mikvah includes a dressing room with a handicap-accessible walk-in shower. For the most luxurious experience, there is also a jacuzzi tub.
“I run it as a business, where customer service comes first,” Mrs. Olesky emphasized, comparing the mikvah to a top-notch hotel. “We provide everything: pre-pasted toothbrushes, dental floss, ear-cleaners, makeup-removal pads, individual soap bars, hotel-sized shampoos. We periodically get women coming from the airport. They don’t have to open their suitcase.”
Mrs. Olesky acts as a consultant for other communities that are building a mikvah and is part of a worldwide WhatsApp group for mikvah managers. When Covid-19 came to the U.S., she was able to exchange ideas with her counterparts in Milan, Paris, Argentina, and Israel.
Though hygiene practices were already almost perfectly in line with the new recommendations, a few modifications have been necessary. Attendants wear masks and gloves, customers are screened over the phone when they schedule appointments, and preparations are done at home rather than on site. For now, the mikvah is not providing beauty and hygiene products, nor the beautiful robes with the mikvah logo.
Women are welcome to make an appointment at least 48 hours in advance by calling (303) 476-6818, whether for traditional monthly use, to add a spiritual dimension to their hopes for having children, or to find healing and rejuvenation in the aftermath of a difficult life experience.
“We see our mikvah as another opportunity to share the beauty of Jewish life through Torah and mitzvot,” explained Rabbi Yaakov Meyer, founder and head of Aish of the Rockies. “Like all of our programs, it is inclusive and welcoming. The experience is elevating and inspiring from start to finish.”
Contact Sari Steinberg