The House of Secrets
The Hidden World of the Mikveh
By Varda Polak Sahm
(Beacon Press, Hardcover, 9780807077429, 272pp.)
Publication Date: August 1, 2009
List Price: $28.95*
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For Orthodox Jews, immersion in a ritual bath—the mikveh—is the cornerstone of family life and is central to Jewish women’s practice of their faith. Yet women from across the Jewish spectrum frequent the mikveh, often for surprising personal reasons. Roused by her own immersion experience, for years Varda Polak-Sahm, a secular Jew, patiently observed and interviewed women at the mikveh, gaining unprecedented access to this hidden world. The House of Secrets offers a richly nuanced, uncensored look at an experience that is for some holy and for others coercive, ultimately illuminating the remarkable power of ritual immersion.
Varda Polak-Sahm is a seventh-generation Jerusalemite, the author of three books, and an internationally known photographer and researcher of folklore.