The special delegation, headed by Harav Yisrael Yaakov Lichtenstein, Av Beis Din of the Federation of London and member of the RCE’s presidium, included the well-known mikveh inspector Harav Yehuda Leib Mintzberg, and Harav Aryeh Goldberg, deputy director of the RCE.
It is well-known that every mikveh must be examined from time to time to verify that it meets the required standards of kashrus and that it is being properly maintained. The RCE’s offices have received many requests for experts to visit and inspect mikva’os. It was decided that during this particular series of visits, the mikva’os in a number of cities in Ukraine would be inspected. This tour covered hundreds of kilometers; in some cases the delegation had to travel five hours between cities to inspect the mikva’os in each one.
Each of the mikva’os visited by the delegation was given a thorough inspection, from the roof to the underground pool of the mikveh, as well as the other parts of the mikveh system.
The delegation began its tour in the city of Cherkassy, where the Rabbanim were greeted by the city’s Rav, Harav Dov Axelrod. From there they traveled to the city of Zhytomyr, where they were greeted by Harav Shlomo Wilhelm. The next community they visited was Vinnytsia, where they were greeted by Harav Shaul Horowitz, who showed great appreciation for their efforts. From there the delegation’s rabbis moved on to Chernivtsi, whose community is led by Harav Menachem Mendel Glitzenstein. They completed their tour by visiting the mikva’os of Kiev and the nearby city of Anatevka, where they were met by the Rav of the Jewish community, Rabbi Moshe Azman.
While visiting these cities, the delegates conducted a number of important meetings with the Rabbanim and community leaders for the purpose of building and strengthening Torah life in those communities. During their visit to Vinnytsia, the visiting Rabbanim were shocked to learn that the local Jewish cemetery had been badly desecrated. This cemetery is the resting place of some of our nation’s Torah giants, among them Harav Yisrael Isser Wolff, author of Shaarei Mishpat, as well as a number of the talmidim of the Baal Shem Tov, and other great Jews. To address this matter, the delegation met with Vinnytsia’s community leaders and with the director of Vinnytsia’s office of religious affairs, and explained to them how severe the desecration of a cemetery is to Jewish heritage.
In every community where they visited, the Rabbanim were greeted by the community leaders, led by the city’s Rav. They all expressed their deep appreciation for the great efforts the RCE had made to bring this special delegation of experts to visit the Jewish communities and to ensure that the mikva’os were kosher and, when necessary, to make any needed repairs. In every city the community leaders accompanied the delegation as they performed their inspection, and they displayed exceptional cooperation with the RCE delegation, as the Rabbanim of the delegation later reported.
Some of the mikvehs that were inspected were those that were planned and constructed with funding provided by the RCE, together with Keren Matanel. The RCE also participated in overseeing the construction of these mikvehs, to ensure that they met the highest halachic standards.
It is important to note that we have begun issuing kashrus certificates for mikva’os that have been carefully inspected and that have been found to meet the highest standards of kashrus. These certificates automatically raise the standard of the mikva’os for which certification is sought. It also provides us with a list of available mikva’os that we can guarantee to be under our supervision.
The tour of mikva’os in Ukraine is an integral part of the RCE’s extensive activities, RCE director Harav Menachem Margolin explained. “At this time we are involved in a project to build 30 additional mikva’os in various European cities,” he said. “We help with advice, halachic guidance and financial assistance for building the mikva’os.”
Harav Yisrael Yaakov Lichtenstein, who headed the delegation, pointed out how greatly impressed he was with the dedication of the Rabbanim of the various communities to see that the mikva’os were maintained exceptionally well and that they were kept clean and aesthetically pleasing. He was also impressed with the high level of halachic knowledge that was displayed through every detail of the mikva’os that were inspected, which showed how much the Rabbanim and community leaders cared about increasing the tahorah and kedushah of Am Yisrael.
RCE deputy director Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg summed up the delegation’s visit: “Everyone knows how very necessary it is to inspect the mikva’os in every city. This visit is a continuation of the series of inspections that we will conduct throughout Europe to examine the kosher status of the mikva’os.”