Our mikveh was built in the year 1999. It is the only mikveh used in Las Vegas for all the Conservative and Reform synagogues.
Ritual immersion is submersion of the body in a pool of water. This pool and its water are precisely prescribed by Jewish law. Immersion, tevillah, is the common component of every (traditional) Jewish conversion process regardless if you are male or female, adult or child. The conversion ceremony without tevillah is unacceptable to the traditional religious community.
While Conservative rabbis similarly require mikveh for conversion, Reform rabbis generally do not, although a tendency to more traditional symbols and a sense that a uniform conversion process is desirable are encouraging greater use of the immersion component even among the Reform.
Several religious functions are served by this powerful symbol of submersion in water. In the days of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, the mikveh was used by all Jews who wanted to enter the precincts of the Sanctuary. Back then, the law required every person inside the Temple grounds to be in a spiritually pure state appropriate to the pristine spirituality of the Sanctuary itself. And throughout Jewish history, unmarried women have immersed in the mikveh prior to their wedding. Today, many women practice immersion in our mikveh before they are married.
A major function of immersion in the mikveh is for conversion to Judaism. The sages declare that a gentile who wishes to become a Jew must undergo the identical process by which our Jewish ancestors converted.
Submerging in a pool of water for the purpose not of using the water as physical cleansing properties, but expressly to symbolize a change-of-soul is a statementat once deeply spiritual and immensely compelling. No other symbolic act can so totally embrace a person as being submerged in water, which must touch and cover every lesion, every strand of hair, every birthmark. No other religious act is so loaded with meaning as this one which touches every aspect of life and proclaims a total commitment to a new idea and a new way of life as it swallows up the old and gives birth to the new.
The water of the mikveh is designed to ritually cleanse a person from deeds of the past. The convert is considered by Jewish law to be like a newborn child. By spiritually cleansing the convert, the mikveh water prepares him or her to confront God, life, and people with a fresh spirit and new eyes. It washes away the past, leaving only the future. Of course, this does not deny that there were good and beautiful aspects of the past. However, in the strictest religious sense, that past was only prologue to a future life as a Jew.
About the Mikveh
The mikveh must comply with a number of precise halakhic (Jewish legal) qualifications. The mikveh must be built into the ground or structure of the building. It must hold a minimum of 24 cubic feet of water. (200 gallons) The depth must be such as to enable an average adult to stand upright and have the water reach at least 11 inches above the waist, so that immersion can be performed without backbreaking contortions.
The waters must be stationary and not flow (not even the flow caused by a filter) while the mikveh is in use. The water, by all means, should be chlorinated to assure it is meeting the highest standards of hygienic cleanliness.
The only assurance that the immersion will accord with halakhic requirements for a male convert is the presence of the rabbi at the mikveh; a female is to be accompanied by a person familiar with the practice, the mikveh escort, or a very knowledgeable friend who herself uses the mikveh.
There is once exception to this general practice of placing the blessing before the mitzvah and that has to do with the immersion of a convert. The convert needs to recite the blessing after the immersion, not before. The reason is that one cannot declare God commanded if he or she is not Jewish. The convert becomes a Jew only after the immersion is completed.