Today was a perfect day. It was the day of the long awaited trip to the Mikvah, completing the conversions that had been the object of such arduous rabbinic labor. The community leaders had after much toil found the perfect spot. So we got up early and made our way to the local bus station. It was a chaos of commerce and clamor as trucks the local mini-buses taxis and pedestrians clogged the narrow streets. We were happy to see a small fleet of these vans waiting for us along my with our Malagasy friends.
We left the city and dove through the beautiful countryside past hilltop villages crowned with church steeples and local windowless cottages topped with thatched roofs, along with lovely homes, we passed rice paddies and busy market towns, and people going about their business walking to destination unknown to us. After around an hour and a half we turned off the two lane road to a well potholed unpaved track that ran alongside a beautiful river.
After several miles we reached our destination, a particularly beautiful spot on the riverbank. A small tent like enclosure had been set up, it reached into the water so that the candidate could disrobe in the enclosure and immerse in the river water with completely privacy. The Men went in first they lined up outside and one by one entered the enclosure where the three Rabbis of the Bet Din witnessed their immersion, one of the Rabbis stayed in river water the entire time to reassure and assist the candidates. The woman followed the same procedure except that their immersion was supervised by a ”Mikvah lady” who certified to the Rabbis that the immersion was done properly. After several hours all of the men, women and children reentered the bus transformed into full fledged Jews ready to take there place in history.
-Rabbi Gerald Sussman
The small tent which enabled privacy during the conversion.