I was emailing with my cantor over the last couple days, about scheduling my beit din. I turned to her, because if you know about scheduling a mikvah, you know that you have to take into account your menstrual cycle. Emailing my rabbi about when my period was due seemed a little wierd (even though, yes, I have talked to him about what the tradition says about sex. So you’d think I could handle talking to him about my cycle, but… no.)
In the course of our emails, she asked if I had any tattoos. Oh no. The only thing I’d been told about tattoos is (over and over and over) “You can’t be buried in a jewish cemetary.” To which I reply, can I worry about that in 70 years?
I got on google and did a search for tattos and mikvah. Over and over, I found a story about a ba’al teshuva (a person who has returned, or turned, to orthodox judaism.) He was at the mikvah and kept trying to hide his left shoulder. He leaned on the wall, he put his towel over it, and finally someone came and said, “So you have a tattoo, I do too. It reminds me how far I’ve come.”
Instead of opting for removal, you can make a commitment to get no more. (Mom, don’t you wish I’d learned about judaism when I was living in San Francisco instead of learning how to pick a tattoo artist?) That it can be harder to stop getting tattoos than to never get one. And I can attest to that.
But then, of course, I started to worry. Is she going to tell me that I have to do my mikvah in Lake Michigan? Is she going to tell me to schedule an appointment for laser removal? How come nobody said, “You can’t become a jew with tattoos.”
But she didn’t. She just wants to make arrangements to be on my beit din and to witness the mikvah. That way the orthodox mikvah lady won’t be the one having to say “Kosher” to my dips. I’ll have my (liberal) cantor as the witness and she cares about the other stuff, not my ink.