by Rabbinic Pastor Matia Angelou and Cantor Louise Treitman
Over eighteen years ago, we wanted to do something special together to prepare for the High Holy Days. We decided that the tradition of immersing in the mikveh could help us as we each prepared to lead services at our respective congregations. We had done musical and spiritual workshops together, we had been in meditation groups together, but this was something new for our friendship. It took us deeper, and connected us more, both to each other and to the holidays. Little did we know how important this tradition would become, and how much it would inspire us.
The first year, we met between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at a small local mikveh. This was many years before Mayyim Hayyim was built. We each became the shomeret, the witness, for the other. It was much more than just saying that the immersion was shaleim, complete. It became a time of intense personal reflection that we shared with each other. It also became a time of beauty as we discovered that the acoustics at the mikveh are quite wonderful! You see, we love to sing together. We both use our voices in our work, but this time was just for us, and we came to treasure it as we shared our own compositions and other melodies that we love.
When Mayyim Hayyim was in the early stages, we both became involved and excited about the possibilities for our community. We also realized that our yearly tradition now had a new dimension. With Mayyim Hayyim, we had a spacious and beautiful mikveh where we could sing together and share thoughts about the past year and hopes for the year to come. We could more comfortably take turns preparing and immersing. We felt so welcomed by everyone – the staff said they looked forward to hearing our voices filling the holy space. We were actually invited to come prepare for the High Holy Days – all the clergy in the Boston area are. This was now even more important because we were part of a growing number of clergy who choose to immerse for the holidays.
As our lives continue to get busier and our time gets more precious, this tradition remains sacred. To paraphrase Pirke Avot, The Ethics of the Fathers, we have found in each other both a teacher and a friend. We learn from each other and we trust each other and we share our deepest thoughts, all in this beautiful setting. We are so grateful for our tradition and for the beautiful and welcoming community of Mayyim Hayyim.
L’Shanah tovah um’tukah ~ May you have a good and sweet year.Rabbinic Pastor Matia Angelou received smicha as Rabbinic Pastor/Jewish Chaplain and Mashpiah Ruchanit/Spiritual Director through ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. Currently, she serves B’nai Or of Boston as a Spiritual Director and Pastoral Counselor, is the Jewish Chaplain for Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and an Interfaith Chaplain for Hospice of the North Shore & Greater Boston. In addition to her chaplaincy work, Matia is a Madricha/Mikveh Guide at Mayyim Hayyim Community Mikveh where, as a member of the Ritual Creation Team, she writes ceremonies for use with the ritual of immersion. Cantor Louise Treitman is Associate Dean of the School of Jewish Music at Hebrew College in Newton, MA, and Cantor Emerita of Temple Beth David in Westwood, MA. She has been connected with Mayyim Hayyim since before it was built, serving many years as a board member and continuing on the Education Task Force. She has recently been re-elected to the board of the American Conference of Cantors. She is the co-founder of Il Concerto di Salamone Rossi Hebreo, an octet committed to presenting the music of this seventeenth century Jewish choral composer in the context for which it was written – the synagogue service.