When we moved here in the fall of 1984, the closest mikvah was an hour away in good weather, and in the winter, when the roads were bad, the trip could be a good deal longer. The few of us in Ithaca who made the trek had a key, and when we arrived at the mikvah, we had to spend at least half an hour to fill the pool, and then to empty it. In the summer, it was often midnight before we got home.

So one of our very first projects was to build a mikvah in Ithaca. We were operating on a shoestring budget then, but with the help of seed money from the Lubavitcher Rebbe ob”m and some generous relatives and friends, we opened our new mikvah in the spring of 1987.

For the past 27 years, we have been operating the mikvah on Meadow St., servicing local families, married grad students, and visitors passing through, averaging roughly ten visits per month. But as time took its toll, and the once residential area became increasingly commercial, we realized that it was only a matter of time until we would have to find a more suitable location.

And so, we began to dream. Imagine if the mikvah were not only serviceable but truly beautiful, even luxurious—a place where a women could feel that she had the time and space for relaxation, for reflection, and for spiritual renewal. What if by its design, the mikvah would reflect the central importance that it plays in the life of the Jewish woman and the Jewish family?  Imagine if we could bring in groups of students to show them the beauty and sanctity that mikvah brings to a marriage? Imagine if the mikvah were attractive enough, luxurious enough to encourage those who had never considered using one to try it?

For many years, it remained no more than a dream. After all, our mikvah serviced a small, transient and young population--- and the costs of maintaining even what we had were daunting.

And then, three years ago, we asked Rabbi Dovid and Miri Birk to join us at Chabad. Over the past three years, we have had the opportunity to expand and revisit many aspects of our work and together, we have made many other dreams come true. And so we determined that now would be the time to rebuild the mikvah.

Over the past six months, Miri and I have looked at pictures of hundreds of mikvahs, and personally visited some of the most beautiful mikvahs that exist. We have identified the features that are most practical, comfortable, and beautiful. We are working with a consultant specializing in mikvah construction on final the details of both structure and design to meet the highest halachic and aesthetic standards. And we have broken ground behind the Chabad House to build a new mikvah that will be in a safe and quiet residential area, with a private entrance available for use even on Shabbat and holidays.