Written by Deena Blau
I was fortunate to learn about Anita Diamant’s dream of a modern mikveh long before it came to fruition. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I awaited our new mikveh with curiosity and excitement. When Mayyim Hayyim opened its doors in May of 2004, I had my first opportunity to actually see a mikveh.
It was a thrill for me that first time I toured the newly opened pools of water as well as the dressing, meeting and celebration rooms. I had no idea at that time how important immersion— in these beautiful, healing pools of water—would become for me.
After my first immersion here, I decided to participate in a pre-holiday immersion. To my surprise and great joy, this type of immersion has now become an important part of my preparation for the holy days. With great excitement, I intentionally schedule my appointment on a day between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As I think about my intentions for my immersion at this particular time of my life and Jewish calendar, I anticipate the coming opportunity to purify, restore and renew my body and soul.
When I arrive at Mayyim Hayyim, I thoroughly cleanse my body from head to toe. As my joy expands, I sing or hum a familiar niggun (a wordless melody). My soul meets my voice in song. When I feel ready for my immersion, I call the guide to ask her to unlock the door to the mikveh. I choose to immerse alone (without a mikveh guide) as this is a deeply personal time for me.
I slowly descend the steps into the warm water awaiting me below. I can feel my muscles relax and a smile spreading all through my body. I read the prayers that are available to me; editing them to my own needs and I immerse fully under the water. After I have immersed three or four times, I allow myself time to quietly float in the water. In those brief few minutes, I have returned to my source, to my home, to my God. I am floating in God’s own womb. I feel unconditionally loved and peaceful here in this sacred space. I have returned to my once fetal state if only for a little while. I am experiencing my own rebirth. Although I am reluctant to leave this holy place, I know I must go. As I climb back up the stairs and return to the dressing room, I check in with my soul once again.
This preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, through immersion in the mikveh, has brought me back to my authentic self and to God. I am ready to forgive and to ask for forgiveness; I am ready to atone for the mistakes I have made. I am ready to say goodbye to the year that was and to welcome the one that is coming. I am hopeful that it will be a sweet year filled with promise and peace. I leave knowing that Mayyim Hayyim and this sacred space are here for me when I next return.
Deena Blau is an active member of Temple Sinai, Brookline, where she serves on the Board of Trustees, founded the Caring Committee and has been co-leading Healing Services with Am Tikva Congregation since May of 2000. Deena is on the Advisory Council of Jewish Healing Connections of JF&CS. She is a former teacher, school social worker, healer, and breast cancer survivor. Her greatest joy is spending time with her four grandchildren who are two to four years old.