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Cecillia Etkin

Love and The Mikveh

“The way I met my husband was that I attended a meeting in October of the B‘Nai Akiva group in New York City. He didn’t sweep me off my feet. But for our next date he came with huge flowers. Almost as big as this round table. After dinner, we went for a walk and he asked me if I knew about the mikveh [the Jewish ritual bathhouse.] ‘Of course, ’ I said. My father went every single morning, even on Shabbat.’ Nathan said, ‘Would you go to the mikveh? ’ And I said, ‘Listen. Why are you asking me this questions?’ And he said, ‘If we have children, would you agree to bring them up and give them a religious upbringing?’ I was so flabbergasted. Why is he talking to me like that? So, I tell him, ‘Listen. I don’t know who you are. And you don’t know who I am.’ He said, ‘I know who you are. My parents live in Seattle, Washington, and it’s a long way from here. I will take you there.’ I saw right away that he is not an ordinary person. He’s a learned man. He started growing on me.”

Cecillia Pollock Etkin
Full image

Cecillia Pollock Etkin
Photo courtesy of Joan Roth.

The Mikveh and Love

“I realized that going to the mikveh is a wonderful thing. It’s a way of life. You want to hear about that? A woman has a period every month. And for two weeks after that, after she has her period for seven or eight days, you don’t sleep together. Every time it was like a honeymoon. You don’t get tired of each other. I don’t understand how people who don’t keep that Law-how they live, really. Because we waited for one another.”

A Garden of Eden

“As the mikveh lady that’s the only thing that I had to do: prepare the water. I had to make sure that it was done according to halacha [Jewish law]. It’s not just something that you fill up a tub with water. We have to have natural water. Spring water. The mikveh is not a new thing. It comes from the time of Adam and Eve. We believe that the roots of those waters were connected to Gan Eden [The Garden of Eden]. I couldn’t live any other way.”

Cecillia Pollock Etkin
Full image

Cecillia Pollock Etkin
Photo courtesy of Joan Roth.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Cecillia Etkin." (Viewed on September 15, 2014) <http://jwa.org/communitystories/seattle/narrators/etkin-cecillia>.

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