Huliya

Mikveh of Helsinki, Helsinki

"Before the world was created, it was submerged in water. The same is true of a child in the womb. When a person enters the mikveh, they enter a state of the world yet unborn. When they emerge, they experience a rebirth, rising from the waters pure as a newborn baby"
Vision 

The Jewish Community of Helsinki had an old Mikveh and the pool did not meet the Halachic requirements anymore. By renovating it, women of the Community are now able to fill their Taharat Hamishpaha duties in a Kosher Mikveh.

Activity 

The Helsinki Jewish Community Center, built in 1961, had a mikveh in the basement. The space had a small pool, which was not halachically deep enough. There was just a bench for dressing. Additional problems were water leaks and moisture collecting inside the walls, which damaged structures and required constant and expensive repairs. The space for the new mikveh was taken from adjoining staff spaces, which were replaced with new ones as required by law. A floor plan for a separate dressing, washing, and pool room was established. The drawings were approved by Rabbi Meir Posen with whom the project manager / architect was in constant email connection, also during the construction phase. Combining the religious and spiritual requirements with technical solutions and connecting the space with the existing technical services, including water, heating, ventilation, and electrical wiring, required good co-operation with the construction manager and the structural, HVAC , and electrical engineers. It was also important to "educate" the engineers that the religious requirements were a pre-requisite to the technical solutions and could not be negotiated. The space was demolished down to the concrete walls. Digging the pool deeper was demanding because it required drilling and splitting solid rock underneath the building, which was being used daily as a kindergarten and school. Because the mikveh is located in the basement , extra attention was given to protecting the walls from moisture, involving five layers of moisture insulation that were applied in the walls, floors, and pool. The colors of the tiles range from green, representing the earth, for the dressing room to turquoise for the washing room, and finally blues and whites, the water, of the pool room. The image of a menorah, such as was on the wall of the previous mikveh, was placed on the new one. The chandelier above the pool was made of three-dimensional brass Mogen Davids, which had been in the light fixtures in the adjoining synagogue.

The project manager and architect was Pirkko-Liisa Schulman, Architect SAFA. Before obtaining a degree in architecture, she studied art and interior design. She graduated Master of Science in Architecture from Helsinki University of Technology (now Aalto University). She received a Fulbright Scholarship to attend the School of Architecture at Yale University, USA. There, she studied architectural history and theory and received the degree of Master of Environmental Design. After working five years in architectural offices in the USA, Ms Schulman returned to Finland to teach in the Department of Architecture, Helsinki University of Technology. During her seven years as a teacher, she also organized international architectural conferences and wrote books. After establishing her own design company, she has done renovation and restoration projects, including the Helsinki Synagogue and the Jewish Community Center and School. Ms Pirkko-Liisa Schulman is active in researching Jewish architecture and history. She has contributed to the work of Bet Tfila – Research Unit for Jewish Architecture in Europe, a co-operative endeavor of Technische Universität Braunschweig and Center for Jewish Art in Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In rebuilding the mikveh, Ms Schulman worked together with Mr Jukka Jatkola, Civil Engineer, who oversaw the financial side of the project, co-operated in technical design, and helped her supervise the construction work.

 

Rabbi Simon Livson was born in Israel. He moved to Finland at the age of 7, where he did his one-year military service. After his graduation as a Bachelor of Arts , Business and Administration in 2006, he studied at the Yeshiva Hamivtar in Efrat - Israel -and received his smiha (Rabbinical ordination) from Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat in 2010. In 2012, he received his second rabbinical ordination in Yoreh Yoreh in Kashrut, Shabbat and Nidah from rabbi Abraham Weiss (president), rabbi dayan Yacob Love (rosh kollel) and rabbi Dov Linzer (rosh yeshiva) in the Yeshiva Chouveivei Torah, in New York. He is the Chief Rabbi of Finland since 2012.

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2015
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