Hartford has had a mikveh since at least the late 1890's, although the exact location(s) have been lost to time. The predecessor of Mikveh Bess Israel, the Hebrew Women's Club of Hartford, was founded in 1927, had to litigate itself into existence against the protests of its neighbors and finally opened in 1932 on Magnolia Street. We have found mention of two mikvaot from the late 1920's that the Magnolia street facility replaced. One is referred to as being on "lower Market street" and was thought not to be safe for women after dark. Another mikveh on Windsor street was "not in use anymore," according to accounts at the time. There is also mention in oral history recordings (which we are following up) of a mikveh on Main Street at the intersection of Seyms.
The organization changed its name to Mikveh of Hartford in 1962 shortly thereafter moved to Blue Hills Avenue. It remained there until the current location was purchased. The Magnolia street location was eventually sold to a church (170 Magnolia is a church now, though not necessarily the first) and the Blue Hills avenue building is also still standing.
The current name was bestowed in the early 1980's when funds from the former Bess Israel congregation (also known as the Barbour Street Shul) were used to retire the 61 N. Main street mortgage. The mikveh took on its current name to perpetuate the name of the once mighty shul.
No matter where it is housed, Mikveh Bess Israel's mission will always be to provide a safe and sacred space for spiritual cleansing and purification. Mikveh Bess Israel is sustained by dedicated volunteers, donations small and large and by generous support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford and the Jewish Community Foundation.
We are proud to be a community mikveh for all Jews in the Greater Hartford community to use, in consultation with their Rabbi.