"I want a mikveh that encourages the prayers of the heart in Jews of every denomination and description. … I want a mikveh that respects the modesty of the people who visit ... that is beautiful in design and decoration, welcoming and inviting from the minute you walk through the door." Anita Diamant
In 2000, best-selling author Anita Diamant outlined her vision for a community mikveh in an essay called, Why I Want a Mikveh. Diamant made the case for a mikveh that "encourages the prayers of the heart in Jews of every denomination and description. A mikveh that would respect the choices and modesty of everyone who visits. A mikveh that would be beautiful in design and decoration -- a welcoming and inviting place, from the minute you walk through the door.”
In 2001 Diamant assembled a small, dynamic founding board and hired Aliza Kline as Mayyim Hayyim's executive director. Kline's experience, energy, and passion for Jewish life was instrumental in turning the dream of a new kind of mikveh into a 21st century reality.
Because most American Jews were unfamiliar with even the idea of mikveh, Mayyim Hayyim's board and executive director launched a dual campaign to teach about the possibilities of this ancient ritual as well as to raise funds to build a totally unprecedented institution. But with visionary help from many individuals in the greater Boston area, the idea caught on and money was raised.
On May 14, 2004, Mayyim Hayyim opened the doors to its home in a renovated Victorian home, in Newton, Massachusetts. New construction included two beautiful immersion pools - mikva'ot - four preparation suites, and a welcoming reception area. The original house became a multipurpose facility that now serves as an education center and celebration venue, and art gallery.
In 2012 Mayyim Hayyim celebrated its 10,000th immersion and continued the transition from start-up to grown up, hiring Carrie Bornstein as its executive director and appointing Jennifer Slifka Vidal as board president. In 2013 a small group of existing and new supporters came together to evaporate the existing mortgage to ensure that the bank would no longer own Mayyim Hayyim, the community would.
Mayyim Hayyim has become a destination for Jews across the spectrum of observance and affiliation. Visitors from around the US and indeed, from the around the world, come to Mayyim Hayyim to study, celebrate, immerse, and to be inspired about what is possible in the Jewish future.