Yes, Mayim – We Do Need You

The following originally appeared on kveller.com - read the full text here.

by Carrie Bornstein

It’s been a year since you wrote “Since My Divorce, I’m Missing the Mikveh,” and you know what, Mayim? You and I have a lot in common.

OK – so I’m not a movie star. But I have watched Beaches approximately 517 times. That’s got to count for something, right?

Like you, I grew up in the world of those who knew not mikveh, and significantly expanded my learning in college. I immersed before I got married and my introduction to mikveh was from a more traditional perspective. In all honesty, as I learned more about alternative uses for mikveh, I had a hard time with it.

Read the full text here.

Carrie Bornstein is Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director. She lives in Sharon with her husband, Jamie, their three young children, Eliana, Dovi, and Jonah, and three baby chicks.

Posted in Carrie Bornstein | Leave a comment

Mikveh Prayer

by Arlyn Miller

This post is the third of a three-part series of poems inspired by our Gathering the Waters International Mikveh Conference in 2010.

Begin
again.
This time in benevolence
without violence or betrayal.
This time without someone else’s story
dragging you under, drowning
you breathless with terror.

This beginning
begins with you.
Take the love you have been given,
that which you have seen
and that to which you have been blind,
and sew it together to make a whole
cloth of shelter and fertile comfort.

Begin
again.
Pick a name for yourself,
the name by which you want to be known,
the name by which you want to know yourself.

A poet, essayist and journalist, Arlyn Miller was inspired to write these three poems while attending an international conference at Mayyim Hayyim. Of the three poems, “Gathering the Waters” (which was also the title of the conference), appeared in the Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, Volume 9, 2013, and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author. The piece first appeared digitally on the Jewish Writing Project.

Arlyn is the founding editor of Poetic License Press, which publishes creative writing that is “authentic, accessible and engaging,” including the poetry anthologies, A Light Breakfast: Poems to Start Your Day and A Midnight Snack: Poems for Late Night Reading. Arlyn teaches writing workshops in the Chicago area.  Her poems, essays, and articles have been widely published.

Posted in Inspiration | Leave a comment

Immersion

by Arlyn Miller

This post is the second of a three-part series of poems inspired by our Gathering the Waters International Mikveh Conference in 2010.

As if you didn’t have a body,
were all thought and feeling.
As if the clumsy feet, the aging hands,
the blemished skin and unwieldy hair
were not you. Most of the time
you can move about in this way,
and name yourself
what’s housed inside, incorporeal.

The water will disabuse you.
Temperature and displacement
a stark mirror: you are finite and imperfect,
separate from what is not you,
no matter how connected,
connected, no matter how separate.

The waters have parted
to make room for you
and gathered you in.

Neither have they drowned you
nor have you made of them a flood;
you’re not that powerful – only human
holy human.

A poet, essayist and journalist, Arlyn Miller was inspired to write these three poems while attending an international conference at Mayyim Hayyim. Of the three poems, “Gathering the Waters” (which was also the title of the conference), appeared in the Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, Volume 9, 2013, and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author. The piece first appeared digitally on the Jewish Writing Project.

Arlyn is the founding editor of Poetic License Press, which publishes creative writing that is “authentic, accessible and engaging,” including the poetry anthologies, A Light Breakfast: Poems to Start Your Day and A Midnight Snack: Poems for Late Night Reading. Arlyn teaches writing workshops in the Chicago area.  Her poems, essays, and articles have been widely published.

Posted in Immersion | 1 Comment

Why Membership Matters

by Sherri Goldman, Administrative and Finance DirectorDSC_0169 

“Membership at Mayyim Hayyim allows me to focus on myself. My membership allows me to immerse as many times as I want, focusing solely on my kavanah (direction of my heart); I have no concerns or thoughts about anything else.”

“I feel completely supported by Mayyim Hayyim. My membership allows me to support Mayyim Hayyim back.”

“I want to support Mayyim Hayyim — I love making the yearly commitment and feeling like my small contribution is another voice saying “Yes! This place is important and I want it to continue! Yay, Mayyim Hayyim!”

-Quotes from current Mayyim Hayyim members

Membership is belonging.  Our interests, motivation, health and happiness all seem to be tied to the feeling that we belong to a greater community that shares our common interests and aspirations.

I find a sense of purpose in being a member. My membership at my local gym, school community organization, book group, Temple congregation and Sisterhood reflects everything about who I am, what I value and what is important to me.  My memberships give me purpose, drive, friendship and a sense that I am living my life in a meaningful way.

As an organization, Mayyim Hayyim relies on the support of our members: individuals, families, organizations, schools and congregations. Their membership to Mayyim Hayyim reflects their dedication and commitment to support our work in the Greater Boston Jewish Community and beyond.

Membership Benefits for Individuals and Families include:

  • Participation in all Mayyim Hayyim education programs that are open to the public
  • Complimentary immersions for 12 months
  • One immersion gift certificate to give to a friend or family member
  • Additional immersion gift certificates available at a discounted rate
  • Use of Mayyim Hayyim’s meeting rooms/celebration space at discounted rates

Membership Benefits for Organizations, Congregations and Schools:

  • Immersion gift certificates
  • Education Programs at Mayyim Hayyim, tailored to your needs and facilitated by Mayyim Hayyim leadership
  • Blessings for the Journey: A Jewish Healing Guide for Women with Cancer
  • Presentations in your community by Mayyim Hayyim representatives
  • Additional immersion gift certificates, education programs, and use of meeting/celebration space at discounted rates
  • Use of Mayyim Hayyim meeting/celebration space at a 25% discounted rate
  • Listing in Mayyim Hayyim’s online and print directories of member organizations
  • Consultation with your board or executive committee for a board installation ceremony at Mayyim Hayyim, including immersion as an option

Membership benefits everyone, it’s a grand two way street. The continued support of our members helps Mayyim Hayyim sustain who we are; allowing us to maintain and be guided by our seven Principles of Common Purpose. Similarly, being a member of Mayyim Hayyim is an important statement of what is meaningful to you and who you are; what you value and hold meaningful. Membership at Mayyim Hayyim reflects your partnership with us going forward to the next ten years and beyond.

Mayyim Hayyim belongs to the community. Mayyim Hayyim belongs to you.

For more information about becoming a Member yourself: http://www.mayyimhayyim.org/Getting-Involved/Individual-Family-Membership

Sherri is responsible for managing Mayyim Hayyim’s financial and building management operations. Sherri holds an M.B.A. from Suffolk University and is a registered Notary Public in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Sherri also serves as Treasurer of the Medfield Music Association, supporting music education in the Medfield Public Schools and Treasurer of the Sisterhood at Temple Beth David in Westwood.

Posted in Inclusiveness | 2 Comments

Gathering the Waters

by Arlyn Miller

This post begins a three-part series of poems inspired by our Gathering the Waters International Mikveh Conference in 2010.

Approach the water.
Bring who you are
and what you have lost.

In its transparency
the water holds
every color.

Like light – every color contained;
though we cannot see this,
for seeing through it.

Enter the living water
which carries where it came from
and the mystery of its destination.

Immerse your self
and emerge with the whole
of who you are

which contains who you have been
and who you will be, though it may be
as invisible as light.

A poet, essayist and journalist, Arlyn Miller was inspired to write these three poems while attending an international conference at Mayyim Hayyim. Of the three poems, “Gathering the Waters” (which was also the title of the conference), appeared in the Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, Volume 9, 2013, and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author. The piece first appeared digitally on the Jewish Writing Project.

Arlyn is the founding editor of Poetic License Press, which publishes creative writing that is “authentic, accessible and engaging,” including the poetry anthologies, A Light Breakfast: Poems to Start Your Day and A Midnight Snack: Poems for Late Night Reading. Arlyn teaches writing workshops in the Chicago area.  Her poems, essays, and articles have been widely published.

Posted in Immersion | 1 Comment

Reelin’ in the Years

by Walton Clark, Office AssistantWalt

Time is the constant relative. 10 years, 7 stops on the green line, 3 snoozes of the alarm clock, 6 family members born; we measure the passing of time in so many ways. We know that it doesn’t change, that it doesn’t pass us by any differently from one day to the next. But then again we aren’t robots. We are human beings.

During my senior year of college, I was fleshing out my schedule for my last semester and I took a drawing class. I thought it would be a fun, easy way to fill some credit hours. Easy it was not. That drawing class took up so much time. I would sit and sketch and then go back remove mistakes and continue sketching. It would take so long to draw a single piece of furniture. While I was sitting and sketching, I came to the realization that this was the first drawing class I had taken in over ten years. Most of the things I do and remember are within the immediate past. As a young man, this was the first time I could refer to something in terms of decades.

Flashforward to last week. Mayyim Hayyim was celebrating its 10th anniversary at The Ripple EffectTen years of people, ten years of programs, ten years of growing an organization. As a newcomer to Mayyim Hayyim, I don’t hold much authority or expertise on its history. I am at most a casual observer. That being said, having worked and seen the results of the event, I have been able to see how the organization has changed over time, from old documents, photos and stories people have told me. I imagine that there were times, as this organization was building, that were like being stuck in the art studio, having to expend enormous concentration and focus while the minutes seem to drag into each other. There would be times that you would furiously erase something you didn’t like and start again. In the end, though, when the piece is complete, you stand back and admire what you created, seeing that the time and effort went into making something new in the world. Mayyim Hayyim is not a complete piece of art. It is an ongoing project. But for one night, it was fitting to take a step back and to just look, just see, the road traveled thus far.

Drawn Mayyim Hayyim

Original Concept Art for Mayyim Hayyim Building

Walton Clark is Mayyim Hayyim’s office assistant and jack of all trades. He is a 2011 graduate cum laude of Tulane University as well as an alum of City Year Boston. He is a working musician in Boston, playing keyboard and writing songs in a variety of groups. You can follow him on Twitter @walt_twitwalker and on Instagram @welaxer.

Posted in Special Events | 1 Comment

Back in the proverbial saddle…

by Leah Hart Tennenleah-photo

When life hands you lemons, call Carrie Bornstein.  If a truer lesson is out there, I have yet to find it.

In my attempts to discover what I want to be when I grow up (any suggestions?  I’m open!), I have found myself slightly without a job.  I have a couple of part-time things going on, but nothing that has that certain, oh I don’t know, “pays the bills” quality.  It’s also hard to find work that has that perfect balance of feeling like you know what you’re doing and feeling challenged to learn and grow.  Again, any ideas?  I’m pretty open-minded.

I have had the privilege of being involved with Mayyim Hayyim, in some capacity, since 2006; first as a guest, then as a volunteer Mikveh Guide, then as Mikveh Center Director.  In November of 2013, I moved on to (as I might have mentioned earlier) figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  One wonderful outcome was that I was able to “just” be a Mikveh Guide, coming in when I wanted to, as opposed to when I needed to.  I found that I wanted to guide a lot, and managed to come in at least twice a month, often after Shabbat ended on Saturday nights.  I loved being able to come into a peaceful, quiet space, hoping to provide the same for the guests coming to immerse.  Guess what? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In my various roles, I have seen people come to Mayyim Hayyim for a variety of reasons.  But, I also believe that underneath the larger kavanah (intention), there is a search for peace, for familiarity, and for finding one’s center (and maybe the hope that Anita Diamant might be lurking in the shadows somewhere).

Here I am now, slightly unemployed, and looking for something to do.  Did I mention that one should call Carrie Bornstein?  Well, that’s exactly what I did and here I am, back in the proverbial saddle.  For the next few weeks, you can find me helping out at Mayyim Hayyim happily scheduling conversions, answering questions about immersions, providing resources to people about mikveh and different ways of observing the ritual, and, perhaps most importantly, spending time in probably my favorite place on earth.

Leah Hart Tennen, MPH, LICSW is an experienced social worker, specializing in groups and clinical work with adolescents and parents.  She is open to any ideas about job opportunities and encourages you to contact her with advice.  She can be reached at leaht@mayyimhayyim.org.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment