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December 18, 2015

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 18, 2015 A man using the mikvah at Mayyim Hayyim, a community ritual bath in the Boston suburbs. By Uriel Heilman NEW YORK (JTA)mMik- vah night has an unusual meaning in the Ozur Bass household. As for many observant Jew- ish women, it's the night each month that Janet Ozur Bass immerses in the mikvah ritual bath following menstruation. Once she emerges from the water, husband and wife may resume the physical intimacy traditionally forbidden while a woman is menstruating. But in the Ozur Bass house- hold, mikvah night is double duty: Instead of just Janet go- ing, her husband, Henrique, immerses in the mikvah, too. "I can't begin to tell you how spiritual it is," Henrique Ozur Bass told JTA. "Mikvah is not about a blood taboo; it's the time of the month that women are more like God in that they are getting ready for creation," he said. "And they can't do it alone. I recognize that I am a partner with my wife in creation, and that is what further motivated me to follow her cycles." Ozur Bass is one of a small but growing number of Jewish men who have adopted the practice" of monthly mikvah immersions in tandem with their wives' menstrual cycles. Mikvah use by men is not new. Men long have gone to the mikvah before their wed- dings, and some visit the mik- vah as spiritual-preparation before major holidays. Many Hasidim immerse before every Sabbath. Jewish law requires mikvah immersion--for men and women--as part of the conversion process. In recent years, American Jews also have begun using mikvah immersions to mark milestone occasions like bar or bat mitzvahs, miscarriages or divorce. Some couples go to the mikvah when they're trying to conceive. m 3 R ~E G A I N 36 H O T W A T E R m m m 6 7 8 S K A T E I A B R G A L 25 B I l- 33 E E 37 T A R R R ___l 50 C A 53 54 T I S A R T T E A E S N m m m 11 12 13 L A L E P I A P E 27 E T T a0 N 1 A E T S D E II 45 46 47 V E N 55 D E R A N E H A ~ 415387926 893462715 627951 843 751234689 2386951 74 964178532 382516497 579843261 146729358 But regular monthly mik- vah use by men in correlation with their partners' cycles, known in Hebrew as niddah, has been almost unheard of. Naomi Malka, the mikvah director at Adas Israel, a Conservative congregation in Washington, said a core group of about 10 men have begun to do it off and on. Mayyim Hayyim, a pluralistic mikvah in the Boston area, has had 18 men use the facility for monthly immersions since it opened in 2004, according to the organization's records. "It's becoming increas- ingly common," said Carrie Bornstein, Mayyim Hayyim's executive director. "when we talk about egalitarian prac- tice in Judaism, our minds immediately go to women's practice.II think it's exciting and interesting to see men taking on practices that tradi- tionally have been the domain of women," To be sure, monthly male mikvah use is still a fringe 'By Ben Sales TEL AVIV (JTA)--During last week's climate sum- mit outside Paris, the 195 delegate countries--includ- ing Israel--committed to implementing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improving their goals every five years. The aim: Keep Earth from warming more than 3.6 de- grees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century. "This demands interna- tional discipline, which is not easy, but for the good of humanity, I hope that itwill be found," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the climate talks, told his Cabinet on Sunday. "It will certainly be found in the State of Israel." But the historic deal leaves much to be desired, a range of Israeli climate activists, experts and government officials say. They point out that Israel's plan to help reduce global warming falls short of what other countries have vowed to do. And some Israelis have expressed doubt that the plan will be imple- mented at all--Israel won't face concrete repercussions phenomenon. But its emer- gence is a sign of the degree to which modern Jews are reimagining traditional ritu- als, the lengths 1~o which some couples are going to practice egalitarian values and the rising interest in mikvah use generally among American Jews~ "Marriage relationships have changed since Leviti- cus 15," said Dasi Fruchter, program director of Im- merseNYC, a pluralistic or- ganization in New York that promotes mikvah use, ref- erencing the Bible chapter containing menstrual regula- tions. "Relationship and mar- riage has changed. The niddah practice is also changing." Michael, a 29-year-old man in the Boston area who asked that his last name be withheld for privacy reasons, told JTA he began going to the mikvah every month at the request of his fiancee when they moved in together. "She said that since we're living together now, she wanted to go to the mikvah every month, as that was her mother's practice and her family's practice," Michael said. "I knew the concept, but I honestly didn't know much about it." Women who go to the mikvah typically immerse naked after cleaning their body of any stray hairs or dead skin, and traditionally a witness is present to ensure the immersion is complete. There is an accompanying blessing, and the custom is to submerge three times. (A mikvah is any naturally de- rived body of water of at least 150 gallons. While lakes and oceans qualify, most Jews use specially constructed indoor mikvahs.) Men who use the mikvah monthly have adapted the ritual in different ways. Ozur if it fails to meet its goals beyond being excluded from the accord moving forward. Still, Israeli environmen- talists say Israel's commit- ments under the deal are a welcome first step. They hope Israel's proposal will encour- age the .government to make clean energy a priority. And they expect that the accord will create a global market push to expand environmen- tally friendly businesses and products. "Environmentalists should celebrate because the govern- ment made its most ambitious statement to date," said Alon Tal, founder of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense. "Now we hold its feet to the fire." Israel; with about 0.1 per- cent of the world's popula- tion, contributes about 0.2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Israel's plan pledges, by 2030, to keep greenhouse gas emissions at about their current lev- els. Without implementing the plan it committed to in France, Israel would emit an estimated 105.5 metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2030. The plan would lower that num- ber to some 82 metric tons, which is around what Israel Bass, who has been doing it for 23 years, says he submerges four times, each time facing a different direction while meditating over one of the four Hebrew letters of God's name. When he's done, he sings the "Yedid Nefesh" hymn, traditionally sung before Friday evening prayers. He says a blessing beforehand but has no witness. Some couples try to serve as each witnesses for each other, when possible; few mikvahs permit simultaneous use by men and women. When Rabbi Ben Shalvaand his wife decided to adopt the practice, he was in Conserva- tive rabbinical school and the two were living in Israel with their infant son. Knowing it would be impossible to find a mikvah in Jerusalem that would allow tandem immer- sion, they would drive to the Tel Aviv beach once a month, find a secluded area and im- merse in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea--each holding the other's swimsuit when they dunked while somehow kept an eye on the beach where their 1-year-old watched from his stroller. "Itwas a little fun and crazy and beautiful, too, and it felt every time like a rebirth," Shalva said. Things got easier when they moved to Boston and began going to Mayyim Hayyim, which allows tandem dunk- ing. Sometimes they even brought their kids and then frolicked in the water all together once the ritual dunkingwas done. Shalva said they gave up monthly mikvah after about five years, owing to changing religious priori- ties, a move to Virginia and logistical challenges. Rabbi Joel Roth, a professor of Talmud and Jewish law at the Jewish Theological Semi- nary, said that when he used to lecture students on sexual issues during the 1980s and '90s, he suggested that men consider adopting mikvah immersions to add a spiritual dimension to niddah Obser- vance. Roth, now 75; said he used to practice it himself. "My motivation was to increase the observance of 'taharat hamishpacha' in the Conservative movement, and I saw men's mikvah obser- vance as preparation of the soul for the resumption of marital intimacy," Roth said, using the Hebrew term for the observances surrounding menstruation. "Occasionally I would get questions addressed to me that were a fairly good indicator that people were doing what I suggested, but I have no idea how many people did it." Nowadays, many men who don't go to mikvah are never- theless adopting other novel practices during the seven "clean" days following men- struation, the period women traditionally wait before their monthly immersion, focus- ing on emotional intimacy rather than just abstaining from sex, said Fruchter of ImmerseNYC. "Understanding mikvah as a partnership practice is becoming more widespread, not only among egalitarian couples but also modern Or- thodox people," said Fruchter, who is also studying to be an Orthodox clergywoman at Yeshivat Maharat in New York. "One man I know prepares music for his wife to listen to when she's at the mikvah and preparing,'Fruchter said. "Another couple has a special dinner during the seven clean days where they talk about something difficult. I encourage couples to make it a specific time to work on something in their relation- ship." has emitted this year. Taking population growth into ac- count, the plan amounts to a per-capita greenhouse gas emissions reduction of ap- proximately 26 percent. The United States, by con- trast, has pledged to reduce emissions from a total of about 5.5 billion metric tons of carbon in 2015 to under 5 billion by 2025. The U.S. plans to reduce its absolute number of emissions 26 percent below 2005 levels--not relative to population growth. The European Union has pledged to lower its emissions to 40 percent below 1990 lev- els. China, meanwhile, has pledged to draw 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. Yosef Abramowitz, an Is- raeli solar energy entrepre- neur and delegate at the Paris conference, called Israel's plan "scandalous." "For a start-up nation to have one of the lowest solar goals on the planet betrays our values and our potential," said Abramowitz, who called the Israeli goals "so minimalist that it made it difficult for us in Paris" when defending it to other delegates. Israel's initiative involves an eightfold increase in re- newable energy Sources, like solar and wind power. Implementing greener build- ing codes to promote energy efficiency, moving from coal power plants to burning Israel's abundant natural gas and investing in public transportation are also part of the plan. Israel's proposal calls for the government to vote on an implementation plan for the proposal in 45 days, though ministries are still Climate on page 15A From page 1A Upchurch Watson White & Max Shareholder Richard Lord said his colleague's recognition "is a great honor reflecting Mr. Kolin's serious, deliberate and long-term experience and thought lead- ership in ADR." Kolin will be featured in special Litigation Trailblazers publications ap- pearing in The National Law Journal on Dec. 14. ?