At the end of the eight weeks, the teacher gave each of us a supply of b'dikah cloths (which looked uncannily like the prayer cloths of my childhood) to check for blood during the seven days following our periods, during which time we couldn't have sex, and after which we were to go to the mikvah for purification.

Before the hamentaschen demonstration began, I mentioned to my friend Sandra that the whisks had to be taken to the mikvah, and she said she remembered after she got married pushing her china in a cart to the mikvah to be immersed. "It's the ultimate mitzvah," she said, "because it's just between you and God. No one else knows that you did it."

And maybe that's why religion is so hard to translate to others: because one's faith is just between you and God, after all.


This article was first published at Zeek, a Patheos Partner, and is reprinted with permission.

Angela Himsel'saward-winning weekly column, "Angetevka," just celebrated its one-year anniversary at Zeek. Her writing, both fiction and non-fiction, has also appeared in the New York Times, the Forward, the Jewish Week, Lilith, the Partisan Review, BOMB and elsewhere. She holds a bachelor's degree in religious studies from Indiana University and a master of fine arts from City College. Angela lives in New York City with her husband, three kids, and two dogs.

4/15/2010 4:00:00 AM