Jewish bath rises on 15th St

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The construction of a Jewish ritual bathhouse will “define Park Slope as a true Jewish community and bring more Jewish families to the area,” the organizations behind the project said this week.

But some neighbors of the building, on 15th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, said they were unhappy with its planned institutional use and by the facade pictured in an architecht’s rendering shown this week.

“It’s not a block for that type of structure,” said Frank Gonzalez, who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years.

Observant Jews view the ritual monthly bathing by women as one of the most important tenets of Judaism, above even going to synagogue services or owning a Torah scroll. Some Orthodox men use the mikvah more frequently, in some cases daily.

Because Orthodox Jews do not travel on the Sabbath or Jewish holy days, having a mikvah within walking distance of home is an important consideration in deciding where to live.

Building a mikvah, which literally translates as “pool,” “takes precedence even over building a house of worship,” Rabbi Shimon Hecht’s Congregation B’nai Jacob on Ninth Street and Chabad of Brownstone Brooklyn said in a statement.

At the groundbreaking on May 22, Hecht said the project would make life easier for Park Slope Jews who travel to mikvahs in other neighborhoods, including Brooklyn Heights and Crown Heights, and would attract new adherents to the practice.

The facility will have men’s and women’s baths, a large conference room, and two rentable apartment units for observant Jews with relatives at New York Methodist Hospital.

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