At Mayyim Hayyim, we often receive feedback from visitors around the world who participated in one of our many education programs with Associate Director of Education, Leeza Negelev. We are pleased to share these thoughtful reflections from an Israeli teen with the Bronfman Fellowship.
On behalf of myself and all of the Bronfman fellows, I want to thank you for a fascinating encounter, great conversation, and empowering experience in your very special mikveh.
Now back in Israel, many friends interrogate me about my journey: How was it? What have I learned about Jews in America? What are my understandings and conclusions? They’re expecting me to reveal a life-changing experience, as this was my first time visiting the US, and I find it difficult to fulfill their expectations. From this crazy, long, and special journey full of meetings, conversations, excursions, tours, and lectures, the real meaning, the small moments of truth, revealed themselves unexpectedly in special, little moments of enlightenment.
These realizations had many faces: sometimes intellectual, sometimes religious, and sometimes they were just moments of joyfulness. But in your mikveh, I experienced one of a different kind because of the way you walked us through the mikveh, its meanings and practice, and also the way you choose to run this organization.
This might be the right time to confess that I am a completely secular person. For me, mikveh is not loaded with any special meaning (except the basic knowledge about it being a place for women to immerse before they marry), nor am I involved in any of the conflicts concerning who, when, or how people can immerse.
However, something strange happened to me while sitting in a circle listening to you share about the stories of your mikveh. I felt a connection. There was something about the way you explained the act of immersing that enchanted me and touched me on a deep level. I could not understand what was happening. I physically felt like this “thing” that you were talking about is true and right for me in a way that is not reflected in my beliefs or lifestyle.
I had a unique experience at your mikveh without even immersing in it. I think that means a lot.
It is important to me that you know that this kind of a world-view that you choose to follow and implement through the mikveh, one that is pluralistic, accepting, and welcoming – is the very foundation of bringing hearts together. The importance of a place where there’s room for anyone who wishes to take part, where one can feel wanted and at peace, is critical in times like these – when it seems like there’s supposed to be a place for everyone, but it feels like there isn’t a place for anyone.
I hope you will continue to make people feel like they belong. Sometimes that is all it takes.
Thank you again for a few moments of magic.
The writer of this email has chosen to remain anonymous.