The congregation of Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch has big plans for their five-acre campus at 5712 Lorraine Road.
Eventually, the congregation would like to have a Chabad Center, measuring up to 15,000-square-feet, to host all of their events and programs throughout the year.
That center would replace a 2,600-square foot house that now handles those functions. Just barely, though, because of the growth of the congregation.
But first things, first, says Rabbi Mendy Bukiet, who with his wife, Chanie, established the Chabad in leased space in 2004.
The first priority is to build a mikvah as a cornerstone of the campus. The mikvah would be used by the congregation’s women as a ritual bath symbolizing rebirth and renewal in life’s cycles.
“We have been planning this since September 2017,” Chanie Bukiet said recently. “It is so exciting and so beautiful. We have people who keep asking about when we will have the mikvah.
“One of the most important things a Jewish community can have is a mikvah,” Chanie Bukiet said. “This will be the first mikvah in Manatee County. It is a tradition that goes back thousands of years.”
At times, women took incredible risks and sacrifice to protect the sacredness of the mikvah, even in the most forbidding of conditions, such as at the besieged Masada, according to an information sheet provided by Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch.
The mikvah is a cornerstone of the community and will bring much blessings to all those involved in it.
Rabbi Mendy Bukiet
Masada was a mountaintop fortress, where outnumbered Jewish defenders put up a brave fight against the the overwhelming power of Rome about 2,000 years ago. Eventually, the defenders took their own lives rather than surrender.
Chabad of Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch would house its mikvah in a 1,600-square-foot building that would also include two hospitality suites. The mikvah would be on one side of the building, and the suites on the other.
Rainwater would be collected to feed the mikvah, as prescribed in Jewish tradition.
“A mikvah must be filled with water from a flowing source such as fresh spring water or rain water that is connected to a pool designed specifically for immersion,” according to literature produced by the Chabad. “Being that water is the primary source of all living things, it has the power to restore and replenish life. Symbolically, immersion in the mikvah is like a return to the womb, and immersion represents a spiritual rebirth.”
The project, with associated parking, drainage, and utilities, is now working its way through the permitting process at Manatee County government.
There are no issues with zoning, Jim Rigo, Manatee County’s principal planner for the project, said in an email.
Public Works and the fire district have outstanding issues, but those should be resolved during the county’s second review of the plan, Rigo said.
In the interim, Chabad continues fundraising for the estimated $415,000 the mikvah and hospitality suites will cost.
Among those who have assisted with the Ladies Mikvah Fundraising Committee are Chanuet Bukiet, Wendy Claussen, Ruth Hyatt, Rick Rubin, Linda Schwarz, Colleen Shapiro, Susi Steenbarger, Lauren Vallone and Laura Weinshel.
“The mikvah is a cornerstone of the community and will bring much blessings to all those involved in it,” Rabbi Mendy Bukiet said.
For more information, or to donate to the mikvah project, visit chabadofbradenton.com/mikvah.