10/29/2012 05:40 pm ET

The Secret Mikvah Society: An Ex-Orthodox Jewish Woman Takes A Dip In The Ancient Ritual Bath

As I stood naked on the gold tiled floor, I flinched as the stranger picked stray, wet hairs off my bare back. When she pronounced me clean to enter the water, I wondered yet again: Was my life really so desperate now that I was actually going to go to the mikvah, the Jewish ritual bath? But I didn’t have time for second thoughts—my biological clock was ticking away, and I desperately needed God’s help. Even though I had abandoned him years ago. So I tentatively touched my toe to the warm waters of the mikvah.