A Mikveh is a bath used to attain ritual cleanliness which is an important aspect in the Jewish tradition. According to classical regulations, the Mikveh must be connected to a natural spring and hold enough water to cover the entire body.
Many rules regarding the usage of the Mikveh differ greatly between different traditions, but generally, it is used before high holidays and marriage, after menstruation and childbirth, and as part of the ritual of conversion to Judaism.
The Mikveh of Etz Hayyim is one of the oldest functioning ritual baths in Greece. It was probably build sometime in the 17th century and is fed by an underground spring, which, after supplying the bath, flows into the sea.
Since the Mikveh was used as a local dumpster for decades following the arrest and deportation of the community, at the time of its restoration, the bath contained a large volume of thick sludgy material that occasionally overflowed into neighbouring properties and was even considered to be the place where a large snake lived, as a “hissing” sound could frequently be heard by neighbours.
All of the rubbish and debris which had accumulated over 50 years and had stopped the water flow from the spring was removed, and after several months of intensive restoration and cleaning, it was transformed once again into a proper ritual bath.
Photo 1, 2, 3, 4, 5: © Anastasios Skikos