There was a marked difference between my first dip and my second.
Preparing for my first dip, I took my time. I wanted to make sure I did everything right. I was nervous; worried that, while in the water, I wouldn’t immerse my body completely, worried that I would do something wrong.
While preparing for my second dip, I found myself rushing through the process. I realized that this time around, I was eager to get into the water, like I was hurrying to meet an old friend. This feeling was reinforced when I finally opened the door to the mikveh and felt a thrill of recognition course through me. Here was a special place, a sacred place; a place in which I could be naked, body, mind, and soul, and be immediately supported and valued and accepted.
Physically, getting ready to move to another country for an entire year was difficult. Mentally, getting ready to become a rabbinical student was almost impossible. I had so many questions: Will the other students like me? Will I be able to handle the workload? Who am I to become a Rabbi? Whose brilliant idea was it to let me become a Rabbi? Am I ready? I had been looking forward to my immersion because I knew that it would give me the chance to mentally prepare myself and attain the inner calm that I was missing.
Before I got in the water, I sat by its edge, and wrote my own immersion, one that affirmed my strengths, acknowledged my weaknesses, and expressed my hopes. With each step down into the mikveh, I reminded myself that I was moving to Israel in two short days. With each step out, I thanked God for this amazing opportunity. I entered the water as a sometimes silly, always vivacious, recently graduated 20-something year old. I exited the water as a sometimes silly, always vivacious, confident and thoughtful rabbinical student. Finally, I felt ready.
Laura Seide, former Mayyim Hayyim intern, is now running around Jerusalem in the hot sun, drinking way too much Limonada, eating everything at the Shuk, and having a blast. When she’s not busy being a tourist, she can be found in the stone courtyards of Hebrew Union College, studying Tanach and discussing the future of reform Judaism.