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The House of Secrets: The Hidden World of the Mikveh

Author:  Varda Polak-Sahm

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The House of Secrets: The Hidden World of the Mikveh

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The House of Secrets: The Hidden World of the Mikveh
For Orthodox Jews, immersion in the mikveh—a ritual cleansing bath for women based on purity laws—is the cornerstone of family life. All Orthodox women must immerse in the mikveh before marriage, and Ashkenazi women must immerse every month after their menstrual cycle before sexual relations with their husbands may resume. But while the mikveh has been a tool for the exclusion of women, it has also, surprisingly, become an instrument of women’s power—a place men cannot enter and thus cannot control.
Roused by her own experiences of immersion, for eleven years Varda Polak-Sahm patiently observed and interviewed Jewish women using the mikveh, gaining unprecedented access to the entirely hidden feminine culture and sensual atmosphere within traditional mikvehs. The result is a richly nuanced, uncensored look at an experience that is for some holy and for others coercive. The House of Secrets gives voice to women from all branches of Judaism as they open up about what the mikveh means to them; how it fits in with their attitudes toward religion; its effect on their marriages and families as well as on their sexual, physical, and spiritual self-perception and on their relationship with God.

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Format Hardcover
Ships Free? Eligible for Free Shipping
List Price $28.99
Author Varda Polak-Sahm
Dimensions 6" x 9"
Publisher Beacon Press

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