Written by Amy Chartock
I like to imagine the day when I open The New York Times Travel section and find Boston as the featured destination, listing a visit to Mayyim Hayyim as one of the “must sees” on their list. But why a visit to Mayyim Hayyim specifically? Simply put, you need to see it to truly grasp how Mayyim Hayyim
– a community mikveh and education center—has become a national model and a leading innovator.
Whether coming to immerse in the mikveh, attend an educational program, or view an art exhibit in the gallery, a visitor will experience the creativity and depth of this very spiritual place. There are over 50 different ceremonies that have been carefully crafted for people to use during their immersions. The individual guiding you through the experience is a trained and dedicated volunteer, who is there to meet your every need. The towels are plush and the water is warm, and the surroundings are pleasant to the eye.
Even if you have no intention of getting wet, a visit to Mayyim Hayyim offers endless learning opportunities. Our seasoned educators have crafted programs that creatively explore the ancient ritual and reclaim it for the 21st century. If an art exhibit intrigues you, Mayyim Hayyim can draw you in and offer you a glimpse of what the mikveh is all about. And if you want to explore the best practices for Jewish ritual, and learn with colleagues from all over the country, Mayyim Hayyim offers national seminars.
Our founding principles stipulate that we dedicate ourselves to ensuring a dignified, welcoming immersion experience, continued opportunities for learning, and that we serve as a model for other communities, sharing our knowledge and expertise. We accomplish this by creating curricular materials based on successful programs, by hosting seminars and trainings for a national audience, and by working individually with communities to enhance an existing mikveh or build a new mikveh.
Our work at home and our work on the national front are intimately connected. As we have developed into a national model for a 21st century community mikveh, we are committed to sharing our story with others. And by consulting to others, we are forced to check and recheck that our own house is in order. Best of all, we become keen listeners and learners as we work with our colleagues who have sought out our advice. So even if we don’t make it into the New York Times, schedule that tour or call us with questions. We’ll be better for it, and there is definitely something in it for you as well.
Amy Chartock is the National Programs Director at Mayyim Hayyim and is a trained Mikveh Guide. She went on to coordinate Mikveh Guide training within Mayyim Hayyim and, in November, 2008, ran the first national Mikveh Guide Training Seminar for 19 people representing 13 communities from across the United States. In spring 2009, she worked with organizational partners (Jewish Milestones and The Jewish Welcome Network) to create a regional cohort of Mikveh Guides in the the San Francisco Bay Area supported by a grant from the Covenant Foundation and The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund. Amy has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brandeis University and a Masters degree in Social Work from Columbia University. Prior to Mayyim Hayyim, she worked with teens at the adolescent OB-GYN clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and with volunteers at the Jewish Big Brother and Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.