The Miracle-Working Washerwoman Miriam

The Miracle-Working Washerwoman Miriam

My neighbor has been trying to have another baby for a few years, so when I saw her last week wearing a maternity blouse over her growing belly, I was thrilled for her.
“Bshaah tova!”
She smiled. And then she asked me, “Have you ever heard of HaKoveset? The washerwoman?”
“Well, I prayed at her grave on her yahrzeit, the 24th of Tevet, along with hundreds of other women, and this will be the second time I will be giving birth 9 months after praying at her grave at Har HaMenuchot.”
“Wow! Really? Who was this washerwoman?”
“She was a woman named Miriam who used to work for the Zviller Rebbe’s family, and the Rebbe gave her a special blessing to make miracles for people in need…”

I was curious to learn more about this mysterious washerwoman, so I did some research and discovered Miriam the Washerwoman’s remarkable story.

Miriam Mizrachi was born in Kurdistan at the end of the 19th century. She and her husband were childless, and when her husband passed away Miriam followed her lifelong dream to live in Israel, walking by foot to the Holy Land.

Miriam lived in Jerusalem where she worked as a washerwoman, cleaning the laundry and homes of many families in Meah Shearim. Among the families she cleaned for was the family of the Reb Shloimke of Zvil, the Zviller Rebbe, who was widely known as a miracle worker.

Miriam was a very simple woman whose hands were swollen from doing laundry all day and who couldn’t read or write. She was extremely G-d-fearing, earning herself the nickname “Miriam HaNeviya” or Miriam the Prophetess.

The current Zviller Rebbe remembers Miriam the Washerwoman from his youth. He recalls:

“I did not know that they would ever make Miriam the Washerwoman into a historic figure, she was a very, very simple woman.

“She could not read or write. When she had to say the blessing over bread, instead of reciting the actual blessing, she would say “Thank You” and kiss the bread and eat it. Even after eating the bread, she would say, “Thank You” and that’s it.

“They said that on the High Holy Days, from the beginning of the month of Elul, she fasted for forty days in a row and would eat only at night, usually receiving meals from the people she worked for. Even before Purim, she fasted for three days. She would travel to Meron to pray. Her clients recognized that she was a special woman and they asked her to pray for them, and she agreed and prayed at the Western Wall on their behalf.

“My mother told me that in the morning when Miriam awoke, she lifted up her hands and said, “Shalom Shechina [Divine Presence], Shalom Avraham Avinu [Abraham], Shalom Moshe Rabbeinu [Moses],” and more Shaloms to many Tzadikim [righteous people]. Then she sat down to eat, said “Thank You,” kissed the bread, and ate.”

When Miriam was an old woman, the story goes, she came to the Zviller Rebbe crying, “Who will remember me after I die? I have no children!”

And Reb Shloimke promised her, “Even after you die, whoever comes to you with a problem, you will be able to intercede to bring them salvation.”


  1. Shulamis Silverman

    Whoa! What a story! Where is the kever? Can you tell us?

  2. JewishMom

    This comment was left by Jessica Newman
    I went yesterday, followed these directions, and spent an hour in the heat trying to find… I’m horrible at directions, but this is what I eventually did to find it:
    When you are in the parking lot, go to the first stairs on the right— the double stairway. Go up the left handed stairs. Halfway up, go left up stairs again. Turn left at the top of those stairs. Walk along the path, looking to the right, and you’ll find a somewhat hidden small staircase, by two fancy black grave markers on right of some couples. Go up those stairs and you’ll see a sign which says “מרים הכובסת”, pointing straight ahead. Walk forward, heading toward the little tin roof on your left, and her kever is in the middle of the 3!

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