Written by Amy Chartock, National Programs Director
Have you ever been to a mikveh with an art gallery? If Mayyim Hayyim were only a kosher mikveh, a warm, welcoming space that is gladdening to the eye, dayenu, it would be enough! But we don’t stop there. Why not adorn the walls with rotating art exhibits, bringing the concept of hiddur mitzvah or beautifying the mitzvah, to a new level? There are actually seven principles spelled out in the mission statement for the Mayyim Hayyim art gallery. Our newest exhibit addresses several of these concepts including showcasing the creativity of contemporary artists of all faiths, providing a beautiful environment for those who have come to immerse and for their families and friends, and building bridges of interfaith and multi-ethnic understanding.
If you have just 20 minutes to spare, I strongly encourage you to come and visit thenewest exhibit in our gallery space. A Rare View: Selected Works by the Young Women of Raw Art Works will be on display through the end of June and is a “must see” exhibit. This exhibit is a collection of work by teenage girls who have the courage to reveal their true selves. Raw Art Works is an innovative non-profit organization that harnesses the power of the arts to inspire thousands of young artists to tell their stories, envision new possibilities, and transform their lives. At the recent opening I had the opportunity to meet a group of teenage girls from RAW who came to see their artwork adorning the walls and to learn more about this unusual gallery space.
I always love to give tours of Mayyim Hayyim as I am incredibly proud of this community gem. But what struck me as I watched these young women listen and smile so intently was just how many points of connection our two organizations shared. Looking at their website, I found two concepts that jumped off the page for me. I learned that they “create a culture where every artist feels welcomed, connected, and committed to our community,” and that kids who come to RAW experience something that “reveals a meaningful part of them that needs to be seen and heard, without being judged.” These concepts could not be more in sync or aligned with the approach taken by the staff and volunteers of Mayyim Hayyim.
However, this connection is really no surprise at all. We were actually introduced to RAW Artworks by representatives from the Boston Jewish Community Women’s Fund, a long-time supporter of Mayyim Hayyim. As funders of both Mayyim Hayyim and RAW Artworks, members of the Women’s Fund couldn’t help but make the introduction for these two institutions. Exhibiting the powerful work of these teens on the walls of Mayyim Hayyim is a perfect fit, honoring the mission of both organizations and once again fulfilling the goal of hiddur mitzvah, or beautifying the mitzvah.
Come in and see for yourself. Mark your calendar and join RAW Artworks founder Mary Flannery for a workshop that will ignite your desire to create. Experience a playground of possibilities as you draw with your eyes and not with your hands. Click here to learn more.
Amy Chartock, National Programs Director, is a trained Mikveh Guide. She went on to coordinate Mikveh Guide trainings 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.