Special to the Ledger
WEST HARTFORD – Hannah Braune Friedman has been appointed shomeret at Mikveh Bess Israel, the Jewish ritual bath in West Hartford. A shomeret is responsible for maintaining the mikvah and welcoming women who immerse themselves in its waters. Friedman, who stepped into her new role in August 2014, replaces Tzipora Miriam Speter ,who took over the duties of shomeret in 2012 following the retirement of Judy Levy after 25 years of service.
Friedman, who holds an MSW from New York’s Hunter College of Social Work, has extensive experience as a birth doula and as a Jewish educator at Oxford University in England. Along with her husband, Rabbi Daniel Braune Friedman – the new chaplain at Hebrew Health Care in West Hartford – she worked to deepen the Jewish experience of students at Oxford while giving lectures, providing counseling, and organizing peer-to-peer outreach. Prior to her work at Oxford, she served as a family therapist at the Neve Yerushalaim Family Institute in Jerusalem and as a counselor for sexual assault victims at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.
In her new position, Friedman will oversee what Dr. Vera Schwarcz, a member of the executive committee of the Mikveh’s Board of Directors, calls “a well-spring of sacredness right in the heart of town.”
Founded in 1847 by European immigrants, Mikveh Bess Israel has served as “a pillar of Jewish continuity in the greater Hartford area. Although the mikvah has relocated a number of times since its inception, each transition has furthered the mission of providing the Jewish community with a safe and sacred space for cleaning and purification,” says Schwarcz.
Located today at 61 North Main St., Schwarcz says, “Mikveh Bess Israel serves the entire spectrum of the Jewish community by maintaining the integrity of Jewish family life and by bringing Jews by choice into our community through ritual immersion.”
“Mikveh Bess Israel is a place where Jewish women renew their spirits and their marriages month and month with the aid of a shomeret – a woman exquisitely attuned to the soul (and bodily) uniqueness of each individual.”
In the coming months, notes Schwarcz, a variety of new educational programs will be launched at Mikveh Beth Israel. Up first is a lecture and discussion on the subject of “Kosher Marriage,” led by Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m., at the Mandell JCC in West Hartford.
One of the world’s leading values and relationship experts, Boteach is founder of the Jewish Values Network. He appears regularly on television, including guest appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show. His 29 books have been best-sellers throughout the world and have been translated into 20 languages.
“Kosher Marriage” is co-sponsored by Mikveh Beth Israel, the JCC and 10 other local synagogues and organizations.
The mikvah will also introduce several classes to be taught by Hannah Braune Friedman on women’s spirituality and the sacredness of family relations.
To schedule a tour of the mikvah visit www.bessisrael.org or call (860) 521-9446. For ticket information for “Kosher Marriage,” visit www.mandelljcc.org, email email@example.com or call the Mandell JCC Box Office at (860) 231-6316.