The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

City Mikvah Project Honors Wicker Park Rabbi's Dad: Groundbreaking PHOTOS

By Alisa Hauser | February 23, 2015 10:26am | Updated on February 24, 2015 9:06am
 The City Mikvah celebrated a ceremonial groundbreaking on Thursday.
The City Mikvah
View Full Caption

WICKER PARK — The City Mikvah, a private subterranean bath for married Jewish women, kicked off recently with a ceremonial groundbreaking that raised $50,000 for the ambitious construction project, set to be completed in 2016.

Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz, leader of the Bucktown Wicker Park Chabad Jewish Center at 1630 N. Milwaukee Ave., presided over the gathering on Thursday, which was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of his father's death, for whom the mikvah is dedicated.

Building permits for the construction of the mikvah — just north of Wicker Park's Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues intersection and next to the Northwest Tower — have not yet been issued yet by the city, according to records.  

Rabbi Moscowitz said the ground breaking was a ceremonial dedication for "Mikvah Mei Daniel." Actual construction is scheduled to begin once permits are issued, he said.

Erin Norby Lichtenstein, a 33-year-old mother of two and a Ukrainian Village resident, said she plans to use the mikvah once it opens.

Lichtenstein, who met her husband at the Wicker Park center, currently drives to a mikvah in Lakeview, a commute that takes longer than the actual 30 or 45 minutes she spends at the private bath. Describing herself as "a busy mom with two kids," she said, "I am thrilled there will be a mikvah here in Wicker Park."

Built for married Jewish women, a mikvah is a Kosher bath that women take once shortly before they get married and then on a monthly basis.

Sara Moscowitz, Moscowitz's wife and the mother of their six children, teaches a mikvah class to new brides. "Going to the mikvah is a time to reflect. It beautifies the marriage and family, it gives you alone time and time away," said Sara Moscowitz, 32.

Sara Moscowitz added, "Having a mikvah locally will allow women who might not have been interested in it to go and it is accessible, right by the CTA Damen Blue Line."

Sara Moscowitz and Rabbi Yosef Moscowitz:

Unlike a communal bath, going to the mikvah is a private experience and women make an appointment ahead of time. They do not run into other women while there, unless they time their visit with a friend, Sara Moscowitz said.

Rabbi Moscowitz added, "We want to make it as easy as possible for women to come here, so no Jewish woman will say no to the mikvah."

In addition to the mikvah, the underground room will also have a nail salon that will be private and only for mikvah clients.

Moscowitz said the cost to build the mikvah in the basement is estimated to be $250,000.

"We have a lot of support but are not quite there yet," said Moscowitz, who set up an online fundraiser for the project.

First announced in October, the renovation plans will include a Kosher Gino's East pizza, too.

"The Gino's East project is underway. We are still finalizing the franchisee agreement and have had productive meetings with Gino's and hope for the pizzeria to be ready by January, around the same time of the mikvah," Rabbi Moscowitz said.

On Monday, Jeffrey Himmel, CEO of Chicago-based Gino's East Restaurant Group, said,  "Nothing has been finalized yet but hopefully soon."

Gino's East Vegetarian, to be located at 1632 N. Milwaukee Ave., will share a storefront with Bang Salon at 1425 N. Ashland Ave., which will move its hair salon to the space after renovations are complete. 

Photos from the Groundbreaking:

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: