Why My 7-Year-Old Asked To Go to the Mikveh

by Carrie Bornstein

(This post originally appeared on Kveller.com)

Sometimes life has a funny way of working itself out. It’s not that things are so drastically different as an adult than how I imagined they’d be, but looking back, I’ve had a few surprises. When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I confess I never said I wanted to work at a mikveh. As a native New Yorker, I didn’t expect to marry a Jewish boy from New Hampshire. And I never imagined that I’d have pet chickens. (Despite how it sounds, the boy from New Hampshire actually wanted nothing to do with having poultry on our property…)


About a year ago I started taking to the idea of having fresh eggs every day. I didn’t exactly need a bed-and-breakfast level supply, but I was intrigued by the back-to-the-land farm nostalgia I could bring into my suburban life (OK, I have no experience to warrant said nostalgia, but that’s besides the point). I visited my neighbor who owns more chickens than I’d ever seen in one place with the exception of a massive chicken hatchery on a kibbutz in Israel, and just couldn’t shake the idea.

Next thing I knew I was the proud owner of three baby chicks and, after many months of waiting, three bona fide, adult, egg-laying hens. I made lots of quiches, enjoyed discovering just how many chicken metaphors exist in the English language, and reveled in the fact that one of my baby’s first words was, “chick-ken!” as he pointed and chased them around the yard.

That all changed the day I got frantic phone calls and text messages from my husband, who found that our chickens were attacked by what we later discovered to be a neighborhood dog. I’ll spare you the gory details and photos, but suffice it to say that these girls took a good beating and we’re still working on nursing them back to health. We are hoping for the best but unsure what the outcome will be for one chicken in particular…

Read the rest of the post here


Carrie Bornstein is Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director. 


About mayyimhayyim

Mayyim Hayyim is a 21st century creation, a mikveh rooted in ancient tradition, reinvented to serve the Jewish community of today
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3 Responses to Why My 7-Year-Old Asked To Go to the Mikveh

  1. Diane says:

    Magnificent Torah and exquisite parenting.

  2. Jenny Solomon says:

    What a breathtakingly beautiful post. It reminded me of when my own daughter pronounced just a year ago that she wanted to immerse in the mikveh for the first time. She was graduating from our Jewish community day school (at the end of 5th grade) and for reasons beyond our control, would be leaving for a month at Camp Ramah Darom before school ended, forcing her to miss her graduation ceremony. She told me, “Ema: It’s time. I NEED a ritual. I have things I need to let go of and things I need to pray for as I go forward.” And so she did.

    As she immersed in the waters, I noticed that she quite literally thrust her arms down. In her final immersion, she wrapped herself in a hug. I didn’t ask her anything as we left, just allowing the fertile silence to take hold, but she voluntarily explained that it was exactly what she needed. She let go of whatever needed releasing and held herself tight as she went forward. May it always be so.

  3. Jenny – we need to get those two together someday!

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