by Rachel Eisen, Director of Annual Giving
I once learned a quirky little fact about mikveh: if there is a shortage of rainfall to provide the necessary natural water in the bor (the outdoor water collection that “kisses,” or touches, the clean tap water inside) you can use ice. During the melting process, the transition from solid state to liquid state renders the water natural.
This seemingly mundane detail of mikveh maintenance is a quiet testimony to the power of our earth and the environment’s natural processes: even after human intervention (in this case, the use of machinery to gather water and then speed along the freezing process), the natural elements of the earth can still transform on their own terms. Left alone in a small outdoor container, human-made ice can return—naturally—to a liquid state.
A beautiful sentiment though this may be, it’s in danger of no longer being true. The earth around us is changing. Human innovation is an incredible wonder and offers many benefits to our way of life, but it also changes our environment – drastically, dangerously, and increasingly quickly.
Climate change matters for Judaism – our sacred text tells us that God created the earth and the sea and flora and the fauna, just as God created humans – and climate change matters for the mikveh. What if one day, humans have changed our environment so much that natural water no longer falls from the sky to fill the bor? What if one day, humans have so altered our atmosphere that it becomes impossible to transport still-frozen ice to the mikveh to melt in the bor?
We can imagine “what ifs,” or we can recognize that we are in a liminal moment in time, where action is needed. One important action is documenting the world as it is and as it changes around us – in order to show the effects of such change.
Fortunately, two artists have done just that. Lisa Goren and Ellen Alt have been dedicated to using their craft – watercolor and mixed media – to show what the earth’s planetary ice has been and how it is melting. And Mayyim Hayyim is privileged to be showing their work in our art gallery right now.
“Frozen Landscapes” documents the beauty and majesty of glaciers and icebergs, inspiring awe, awareness, and action. This new exhibit is in the Mayyim Hayyim gallery through September, and both the artists will speak about their work at the exhibit’s opening reception, this Wednesday, June 28, from 5:00-6:30pm.
“Frozen Landscapes” is in the Mayyim Hayyim Gallery through September 2017. The gallery is open by appointment only. Please contact Rachel Eisen at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a gallery tour. All artwork is for sale; a portion of the proceeds benefit Mayyim Hayyim.
Rachel Eisen is Mayyim Hayyim’s Director of Annual Giving. She also works with Mayyim Hayyim’s dedicated art committee to support the value of hiddur mitzvah (beautifying the ritual) by maintaining 2-3 exhibits each year in Mayyim Hayyim’s art gallery.