SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – For the first time, Orthodox Jews in Australia’s capital city have a ritual bath.
Mikvah Chaya Mushka Canberra opened its doors in Canberra this week for the small Jewish community of about 600 people.
There is no Jewish school or kosher butcher, and Orthodox and Progressive Jews share a community center for prayer services, but local Jews believe a mikvah will attract more Jews to the capital.
Chabad-Lubavitch, which sponsored the project, recently sent a young couple, Rabbi Dan and Naomi Avital, from Melbourne to assist the community and run the mikvah. Rebbetzin Naomi Avital has undergone training in one of Melbourne’s many ritual bathhouses.
Rabbi Avital said: “We have seen a tremendous growth in the community and participation in our events over last year and we believe this is the right time for this extraordinary development.”
The building contains two ritual baths and three bathrooms and will be officially opened next month by U.S. Ambassador Jeff Bleich, who was active with the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee before he took up his post in Australia in 2009.