I got married in 1939 in Odessa. I was seventeen years old. I had to go into the Black Sea to go to mikvah. My mother and sister went there every month, winter and summer, but I was afraid of the waves. I just couldn’t do it, so my husband and I moved to Leningrad where there was a mikvah that the Soviets had not closed.
Later, the Soviets did close the Leningrad mikvah, but I found an old man with a secret mikvah he’d dug under his kitchen floor. It was winter, and the mikvah was completely dark, with icy, wooden steps and freezing water. Immersing in that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and we both knew that if either of us told anyone, we’d be sent to Siberia.