Waters of Separation: For My Daughter at the Mikvah

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Reprinted with permission from The Eden Center blog

Three days before her wedding in May 2013, my daughter and I had a list of twelve tasks which we needed to accomplish, including facials for both of us, the final fitting of her wedding dress, and buying her new outfits for the Shabbat of Sheva Brachot.  The last item on the list was taking her to the mikvah. When I returned home from Shacharit, as I was then saying Kaddish for my mother, I realized that I only had a short time to write some of my many thoughts to her about this time of transition for us both.  I wanted the time at the mikvah to be both religious and personal. I read her the poem while she was within the mikvah. We both cried; more waters of separation.

For my Daughter at the Mikvah

Water first separated you from me.

Enclosed, sheltered by water, jostled within me.

I’d feel your movements, a foot, an elbow

Protrude and then withdraw, I rubbed my hand

Across my stretched skin and wondered who you were.

Until in the middle of the night, my water broken

Your father and I rushed to the hospital.

Wet, salty tears streamed from my check to yours

As I first cradled you in my arms and we gazed at each other.

For I was a scared mother, wanting a different relationship

Than I had known, uncertain how to proceed,

I wove you into the fabric of my life.

For whatever I did you shared with me

Whether morning yoga stretches to afternoon baking

And cooking and welcoming guests to our home.

Reflections shared from books, the days’ events, family and friends

You complete my sentences. You know my responses,

You have been my daughter, my companion, my confidante, my friend.

From midrasha, your army base, trips abroad

You would return to our home.  Your room

Cleaned, dusted, quilts laundered, ready for you.

Now water separates us again.

Water which surrounds you

Water from which you will emerge

Ready to be a bride, to be a wife and lover,

To be a companion, confidante, consultant, friend,

To your husband, in the life you will build together.

So we are here at the edge of the pool,

Our lives transformed again by water,

Waters of Separation, Waters of Kedushah, My blessings to you.


Sheryl Robbin is a writer and social worker specializing in bibliotherapy with the elderly. Her family made Aliyah from Los Angeles in 1995. She and her husband Rabbi Daniel Landes and their family live in Jerusalem.