by Leeza Negelev, Associate Director of Education

I first joined Mayyim Hayyim’s program for Bat Mitzvah girls and their mothers, Beneath the Surface, as an educator for the 11th cohort in 2014. I had heard a lot about the impact of the program: how beloved it is by the moms and daughters who participate, as well as those who facilitate it. Each year this proves accurate when I run the upcoming year’s dates by my fabulous co-facilitator, Bev Klau, and she replies: “This is my favorite thing that I get to do all year!” Having facilitated this program for the last three years now, I happen to agree.

Why do we love facilitating this program so much? Why do families enjoy it so fully? Well, I would tell you what I think…but it’s better to hear it firsthand from a participant. So, with her permission, I’d like to share with you an email I received recently from a woman who participated in Beneath the Surface five years ago, and recently enrolled her second daughter.

Dear Leeza,

Five years ago we signed our now 17-year-old daughter Antonetta (“Netta”) up for Beneath the Surface. It changed her life in a very positive way, making her move 180 degrees in her interest towards not only having a Bat Mitzvah, but towards Judaism, as well. Up until the point of attending Beneath the Surface, she had been saying that she didn’t want a Bat Mitzvah at all. Now she is active in our synagogue, Temple Israel of Boston (TI), on RYFTI Board, a madricha (guide) in the religious school (for the past 4 years), attending The Tent teen education (starting her 5th year), and a member of the TI Band, playing violin and viola as the only female and the only teen. She has also been asked by Cantor Einhorn for the 4th year to chant during Yom Kippur services.

This year we have signed up our 12 year-old daughter Maya for Beneath the Surface. As we are a two-mom family, this time we thought we might give our daughters’ other mom, Ginny Remedi-Brown (cc’d here), an opportunity to participate.

Thank you so much,

Beneath the Surface does not make miracles. It simply takes the essence of this transitory moment – the movement from childhood to adulthood – and slows it down long enough for a small group of moms and daughters to enjoy it more fully, reflect on it together, and make it their own. Sometimes, this kind of experience leads to a growing interest in Jewish life, as it did for Netta. For other families, it simply offers some badly-needed quality time. Whatever the impact, Beneath the Surface works.

To read more about this program, click here. To find out why for yourself, enroll in our upcoming fall 2017 cohort. Beneath the Surface will run on three consecutive Sunday afternoons at Mayyim Hayyim from 3:30-5pm, October 29, November 5 and 12. Space is limited, register today.

Leeza Negelev is the Associate Director of Education at Mayyim Hayyim.