Yes, that was Oprah on Remsen Street

The Brooklyn Paper
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That must be one heck of a bathtub!

Oprah Winfrey journeyed to an orthodox Jewish congregation in Brooklyn Heights to take a gander at the shul’s state-of-the-art mikvah — a ritual bath for religious Jewish women.

“It’s a very spiritual thing,” said synagogue member Ed Weintrob. “You’re supposed to build a mikvah before you build a synagogue.”

Winfrey chose the “chosen people” to film a segment of her new TV show “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” and visited both Borough Park and Brooklyn Heights to hang out with some Hasidic Jews.

Residents gathered outside to catch a glimpse of the TV baroness, though, face it, jaded Brooklyn Heights residents have seen a few bold-faced names in front of the Remsen Street shul (yes, we are talking about you, former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni!).

A mikvah is a traditional bath drawn from natural water sources — in this case filtered rain — where Orthodox women go after their menstrual cycle to cleanse themselves before resuming “relations” with their husbands.

An archaic tradition? Religion-backed misogyny? The rabbi begs to differ.

“This is the best thing for a marriage,” said Rabbi Aaron Raskin, who leads the orthodox congregation and has been married to the same woman for 22 years. “Absence makes the heart grow stronger.”

Winfrey did not bathe in the mikvah, though it is open to women of all religious persuasions. Her new show “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” will premiere on her OWN Network in January and will feature interviews with spiritual leaders all around the world.

Oprah may be a god on TV, but the religious folks in Brooklyn Heights were only faintly aware of her.

“I have never even seen a single one of her shows,” admitted Bronya Shaffer, who showed Winfrey around the mikvah. “When I told Oprah’s producer that I didn’t know anything about her work, she said, ‘That’s refreshing!’ ”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow his Tweets at @from_where_isit.
Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018: An earlier version had the wrong byline. Why? Because editors are spiteful, angry people.
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Reasonable discourse

Homey from Crooklyn says:
"Oprah doesn't do stairs."
I presume it was on ground level?
Oct. 27, 2011, 8:54 am
Lynda from Oceanside, ca says:
Oct. 28, 2011, 11:08 am
anon from bklyn says:
to homey, I live across from one of the people Oprah interviewed and saw her walk down the stairs. She had someone help her down. Also if you look at the picture of her going down the stairs on other sites you will see someone helping her down. I wonder if she has a balance issue or something else that makes it difficult for her to do stairs and that's why she doesn't "do stairs".
Oct. 29, 2011, 9:33 pm
Basya from Expatriot says:
To clarify: women don't go to the mikvah "to cleanse themselves." They cleanse themselves prior to immersion in the mikvah, which is a ritual that marks the end of the separation period. This is an important distinction, because women who immerse in the mikvah aren't sharing dirty bath water or immersing in order to get physically clean. Immersion is an ancient ritual that harks back to ancient Israel.

Some traditional Jewish men also use a mikvah to mark important times (completely separate from the women, of course).

In fact, immersion is one method that is used to make utensils and other kitchen implements proper for use in a kosher kitchen. In a process called "kashering," the item is immersed in running water -- but it must be absolutely clean before the ritual is performed.

Those familiar with the ritual of baptism may recognize the importance of immersion. No one gets baptized to get clean, except in a spiritual sense.
Nov. 6, 2011, 3:09 am

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