The Mikvah is situated in the heart of Nature where living waters from three warm water springs flow into Wildcat Gulch. The continual flow of artesian water into the pool fulfills the Jewish requirements of “mayeem hayem,” an obligation that the Mikvah receives “living water.” Surrounded by overhanging gardens, the pool is visited hourly by dragonflies, butterflies, and small fish, thereby reinforcing the commitment that the Mikvah is a living sanctuary. Rock terraces have been carved into the hillsides, replete with garden beds planted with medicinal herbs whose intertwining roots secure the valuable topsoil and stabilize the fragile slopes.
From the beginning of time, the Mikvah has occupied a central position in Jewish lore, history, and society. Rabbi David Zaslow tells us that of the five quintessential foundation pieces required to build Jewish community the Mikvah is first and foremost. It is well known that a synagogue – or a house of prayer and worship – is elemental. Of equal importance is a schuel, Yiddish for school or educational center. But even before a synagogue or schuel can be erected, members of an emerging Jewish community are commanded to construct a Mikvah in order to purify its members, including the builders of the temple and schuel.
Traditionally, Mikvah is visited on a monthly basis by women after their menses in order to sanctify their bodies and souls. But in modern times we must acknowledge that the bodies and souls of men require cleansing as much as – or more than – women. For this reason, WellSprings makes its Mikvah available to women and men, alike, for the purpose of ritualistic purification.
In a similar vein, people from many religious faiths have bathed in the WellSprings Mikvah. From the standpoint that Spirit offers life to humans of all faiths and, in a similar sense, that rain does not discriminate whose head gets wet, it can be argued that all who come to purify their hearts and souls are welcome to bathe in the artesian springs at WellSprings.
In 2010 the Mikvah was consecrated by seven rabbis and 80 community members in a ceremony where waters from the Himalayas, India, and Israel were introduced into the sacred pool. Since that time, waters from the WellSprings Mikvah have been collected by those passing through Ashland and delivered to sacred sites around the world. The revival of this historical soaking pool offers WellSprings visitors and the Ashland community a sacred site to rekindle an ancient tradition of immersion.
The Mikvah environmental restoration project is under the protection and oversight of the Health Research Institute. Situated at the gateway to the sacred pool, the Ashland Goddess Temple has assumed major roles, not only in daily maintenance and upkeep of the pool and gardens, but also in the area of hospitality, in welcoming participants to the ceremonial site. Half of the WellSprings spa annual membership fee, amounting to $6,500 during 2010, went to support the Mikvah. Support from Havurah Shir Hadash and Temple Emik Shalom has been invaluable, as have contributions from a committed volunteer labor force and from financial donors, all insuring the continued success of the Mikvah. Contributions are tax-exempt and can be made out to the Health Research Institute Mikvah Fund.
Mikvah Project at WellSprings Advances,
Appeals for Support from Jewish Community
The Mikvah at WellSprings moved one giant step forward this fall towards it goal of providing the Jewish community a formal site for ceremonial bathing, cleansing and ritual. The revival of this historic soaking pool offers the greater Rogue Valley community an opportunity to come together to share, celebrate and support its Jewish culture and participate in a crucial bio-regional resource and restoration project.
Between 2009 Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, WellSprings consecrated the New Year by pouring a concrete shell to capture the artesian, warm water springs that surface at 90 degrees F. Amidst chants of Shechiyanu, the concrete structure was poured on top of the rustic, dirt and rock-reinforced swimming hole that provided ceremonial bathing for more than sixty years to bold and adventurous members of the Jewish community. Board member Will Sears and WellSprings’ craftsman Tom Culp worked steadfastly to complete the concrete work before winter freezing. The recent pour furthers WellSprings’ intention of facilitating ritualistic cleansing and ceremony.
The Mikvah is situated in the heart of Nature along the shore of Wildcat Gulch where living waters emerge from several warm water springs at a rate of thirty gallons per minute. The water flows over a waterfall into an alter, situated above the ceremonial pool. The site is protected by four acres of Tilth Certified gardens to the North and by tall, towering maple and oak forests to the south. “The approach to the sacred site is half the journey,” says Gerry Lehrburger, owner of WellSprings. The path to the Mikvah passes the Tree of Life medicinal herb garden, traverses below monolithic stones brought in by the Chinese in the 1880’s during the construction of the railroad, and crosses a simple foot bridge over a meandering creek.
The property has been under the protection of the Health Research Institute, a tax-exempt organization dedicated to spiritual healing and rejuvenation. The Mikvah design is part of an environmental restoration project to stabilize the fragile hillsides above the pool. Ten tons of stone were brought in to construct terraced gardens above the Mikvah, with many more truckloads of stone being required to bring the project to completion.
WellSprings’ warm water soaking pool has served as an interim Mikvah for the last several years, awaiting completion of the formal Mikvah. A number of local Rabbis – and rabbis from as far away as Portland and Boulder – have immersed in the warm waters of the spring-fed soaking pool.
WellSprings offers the Mikvah and its healing waters for cleansing, ritual and worship. To date, the project has been self-financed. WellSprings has significant expenses ahead to complete the construction of terraced rock walls and to install lit walkways. Health Research Institute appeals to individuals and congregations to donate generously to bring to fruition this important facet of Judaism. To send tax exempt donations to hasten the construction process, or for more information, contact Jonnie Lieberman at jacksonwellsprings.com or (541) 482-3776