by Sherri Goldman, Administration and Finance Director
When I was growing up I didn’t know about mikveh. Mikveh just wasn’t a tradition in my Reform Jewish family. Even my Bubbe (Yiddish for Grandmother), who was raised Orthodox and moved to the United States from Ukraine in the 1930’s, never spoke about mikveh. I remember her at my family’s house the few days right before my wedding, and not a word was mentioned to me by my Bubbe or mother (or mother-in-law) about a bridal immersion. So I had no idea that mikvehs existed. The first time I heard about about a mikveh was when I came to work at Mayyim Hayyim in 2007.
Because of my work, my husband and my children, ages 17 and 20, have all visited Mayyim Hayyim. I’ve brought my son and daughter here when they were younger to help with occasional office tasks. But I never realized that my going to work each day at Mayyim Hayyim would have such an impact on my children. Because of my work, unlike me growing up, my children now know what a mikveh is.
A few weeks ago, as we were just starting a trip to New York to celebrate my father-in-law’s 90th birthday, and while we were waiting to pick up my daughter at the train station, my 17-year-old son needed to make a quick pitstop. Mayyim Hayyim was close by, so I took him quickly here. As we were ready to leave I found him standing looking at one of the pools. He turned to me and asked, “Am I allowed to go in there?” I answered, “Of course.” My son is a quiet and thoughtful kid, and I left him alone with his thoughts as he looked at the water. As I watched him ponder this I saw he knew immersion was now an option for him.
I also thought of my daughter’s most recent visit to Mayyim Hayyim. One of our Mayyim Hayyim interns was working on a film project about body image and mikveh. She asked my daughter if she wanted to be interviewed for the film. As I watched from the mezzanine overlooking the reception area, I witnessed my daughter, who struggled for years with an eating disorder, feel comfortable and safe at Mayyim Hayyim to speak about her body. I felt this was a spiritual, healing transformation for both of us.
Because of my work and affiliation with what makes Mayyim Hayyim a spiritual center, my children have grown up knowing what a mikveh, and Mayyim Hayyim, is. Although my Bubbe and mother (and mother-in-law) did not go to the mikveh and I had no clue about mikveh, my children do know. Mikveh and immersion are now connected to my children, and immersion is now an option in their lives.
Since working at Mayyim Hayyim I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would know about mikveh. I appreciate the beauty and spirituality at Mayyim Hayyim and how that has been exposed to my children. I also think of my Bubbe and wonder what she would have thought about seeing her great-grandchildren at the Mikveh.
Sherri is responsible for managing Mayyim Hayyim’s financial and office operations as Admin. & Finance Director. She is the mother of Amanda, age 20 and Brandon, age 17.