The Orthodox Union’s Women’s Initiative will be offering its latest session in a series of professional development training programs for Mikvah attendants and administrators. The upcoming course, taking place on October 24 and 31, is part of the organization’s continued efforts to address and prepare mikvah professionals for the psycho-social aspects of mikvah attendees’ experiences.

The virtual program will feature lectures and training exercises pertaining to complex issues experienced by women in the Jewish community, and the corresponding impact on their mikvah experiences.

Sensitive subjects including domestic violence, cancer and fertility will be discussed throughout the course, which will encompass topics related to better helping attendants serve the women who utilize their mikvah.  These include the use of sensitive language, addressing survivors of breast cancer, responding to the stresses of the Mikvah night, supporting the obsessive-compulsive client, issues of intimacy and developing domestic abuse protocols. The program also will include training sessions for attendants on how to handle the challenges of postpartum depression, miscarriage, infertility and menopause.

Due to COVID-19, the seminar will include components to help participants navigate the uncertainty of safety at the mikvah, as well as provide much chizzuk to those who’ve spent the last 18-months maintaining families’ ability to perform taharas hamishpacha.

Notably, the updated training reflects the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact or exacerbation of a variety of personal circumstances for women. Participants in the course will gain a nuanced understanding of strategies to sensitively address these situations, should they become relevant during an attendee’s use of the mikvah.

“The intimate nature of the mikvah experience may motivate women to confront issues that they have been managing in isolation up until this point in time.” said Founding Director of the OU Women’s Initiative Rebbetzin Dr. Adina Shmidman. “Should a women decide to use her mikvah night as an opportunity to express the challenges she is facing, we want our attendants and professionals to be equipped to produce the most beneficial outcome that is possible for these individuals.”

“Once again, the OU Women’s Initiative has produced vital programming which continues to prioritize the most pressing issues faced by Jewish women,” said Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane. “By enriching the skillset of mikvah professionals, Rebbetzin Dr. Shmidman and her team continue to provide support to women and families in our communities.”

The OU Women’s initiative launched its professional development program for mikvah attendants and administrators in May 2018. To date, over 150 women have attended the programming which has been offered in Highland Park, NJ, Queens, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Silver Spring MD. At the onset of the pandemic, programming transitioned to being held virtually, which included the creation of a network where 230 mikvah professionals can share concerns, questions and information.

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