Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to throw a Mikveh Party

A mikveh party is traditionally thrown for Sephardic brides from various communities. The basic plan is as follows: 
A party of the bride's close family and friends (females only) accompany her to the ritualarium. Traditionally, they present her with fancy soaps, perfumes, and bath accessories, such as robes, brushes, and towels. The bride prepares for the ritual bath by taking an ordinary, but very thorough bath while the family members and friends prepare a large cookie, or Ka'ak, as above, and bring aromatic spices to smell, delicate fruits to eat, sugared almonds, rose petals for throwing at the bride and a special tea, called The de Hamam in francophone Sephardic communities. After the bride completes her preparations, she is guided through her first ritual immersion either by a member of the family or a community appointed attendant, informally known as the "mikveh lady", or balanit in Hebrew. The bride emerges from the mikveh chamber in her new robe and is received with expressions of joy, and depending on the community, ululation; blessings from all in attendance, and showers of rose petals. The mother of the bride takes the special large cookie (baked in a shape of a star, or a crown) and places it on the brides head with blessings and prayers for a good healthy life and marriage for her daughter. The cake is then broken over the brides head, and pieces of the cake are eaten with the tea and fruit.

Recipe for Sweet Ka'ak (also called Roshka in Ladino for the large form, small bracelet-shaped ones are called Roshkitas) 
Combine 3 eggs with 2 teaspoons of baking powder and add a discretionary amount of vanilla, rosewater, or orangewater. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup oil. Stir with a fork until well combined. Add enough flour to make a workable dough. Shape ropes of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet into a star with a circle in the center or a tiara shape. Wash with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional). Bake at 350 until mostly done, then turn the oven down to 250 until the cookie is hardened and somewhat crisp.