by Lisa Berman, Mikveh and Education Director
It was an absolutely gorgeous evening at Fenway Park. Clear skies, balmy air, the seats and grass shining brilliant red and green. The Red Sox themselves? Well, let’s just say it wasn’t their best outing. Above the team’s miscues and the crowd’s rousing “Sweet Caroline” flew a special flag last night: the rainbow flag of LGBTQ pride. Yes, it was Pride Night at Fenway.
Even as a cisgender, hetero, middle-aged, married white woman (that’s a lot of privilege), it made me smile to see that beautiful flag flying so prominently. While it may not stand for me, it stands for so many, including my own family members, friends, co-workers, and guests at Mayyim Hayyim.
As Mikveh & Education Director, it’s my job to translate Pride into the reality of someone’s experience at Mayyim Hayyim. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, here’s what we’re working on these days.
Words to guide the experience – Guests can now choose from several new Immersion Ceremonies including one for a Gender Transition Milestone and one for Welcoming a Child (for a non-gestational parent, grandparent, or support person). Some other of our Ceremonies have been edited to be gender-neutral, including ones for Divorce/Ending a Relationship. We’re about to unveil a gender-neutral 7 Kavanot (Intentions) for Mikveh Preparation so that our trans and nonbinary guests will see themselves in the text. And yet, we have a lot of additional opportunities to edit other Ceremonies to be gender-neutral. We’re hoping the Nonbinary Hebrew Project might help our work.
Signs that make our intent of welcome crystal clear – From our LGBTQ Safe Zone sticker at the front door (thank you, Keshet), recently replaced after 15 years of loyal service, to new public bathroom signage (“All Gender Bathroom”), we hope our welcome to all is evident.
Pronouns, pronouns, pronouns – Our online form to request an appointment now includes fields for guests to indicate their pronouns, joining the already-open-ended field for gender. Hard copy forms onsite communicate this information to our volunteer Mikveh Guides. Acknowledging the challenge for some Guides to become facile in using singular they/them pronouns, we’re holding “Pronoun Practice” sessions that allow Guides to role-play greeting and supporting guests using they-series pronouns.
We are indebted to the Guides, guests, teachers, and allies who continue to share their feedback with us in our mission to fulfill our intent with an on-the-ground reality of welcome. Do you have suggestions for us? We want to hear them: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Berman is the Mikveh and Education Director at Mayyim Hayyim.