By Leah Hart Tennen, Mikveh Center Director
Calm is not typically a word I would use to describe myself; I’m loud, energetic, busy and have two small boys. I have almost always worked at more than one job at a time, and, for much of my life, have been looking around the corner to see what’s on the horizon. Since becoming a mother of two small (and incredibly busy) boys, I’ve been looking for a room of my own to sit, breathe and, if possible, to just be calm. A tall order, I thought.
I came to Mayyim Hayyim to accompany a girlfriend a few days before her wedding. Like many who have come to Mayyim Hayyim, I was immediately taken by how beautiful the space was and how carefully everyone and everything was cared for. I left that evening knowing that I too wanted to immerse before my wedding that was approaching a few months later.
For me, the idea of immersing before my wedding was to mark the transition from my life as a single person to my new life as a married person. I remember spending a long time preparing, reflecting upon each of the seven kavanot thoroughly and slowly, which was not something I was used to doing. (I’m the kind of person that starts trying to put together the furniture before looking at the directions.) After I immersed, people asked me how I felt; “calm…and ready,” is what I said. And that feeling of calmness carried me through the two weeks leading up to our beautiful wedding.
Fast forward a bit…
When thinking about becoming a mikveh guide, something that was so attractive to me was the idea of guiding on Saturday or Sunday nights. Coming to Mayyim Hayyim late at night seemed like a great way to do something that was “mine”, but also to have a dedicated time and space where I was required to be fully present for someone, able to attend to their needs, whatever they may be. Or, to be calm…and ready. I noticed that every time I walked through the archway, I took a deep breath. That feeling would at least carry me through Monday at what was, at the time, a very stressful day job.
Fast forward a bit more…
Before my younger son, Eli, was born, I again immersed when I was 38 weeks pregnant. I was having a scheduled Cesarean section and was feeling anxious about having surgery. I again took a long time to prepare, focusing on the kavanot. I left feeling calm…and ready.
That feeling went with me to the hospital and allowed me to have a safe and easy birthing experience. Although he’s only five months old, Eli is quite the calm baby.
Now I get to work at Mayyim Hayym everyday. Each time I walk through the archway, I take a deep breath and find myself feeling calm. That space of my own that I’ve been looking for is the same one that hundreds of people use each year at Mayyim Hayyim to find their own sense of calmness, regardless of their reason for immersion. I am excited for this new adventure as Mikveh Center Director. I feel calm…and ready.
Leah Hart Tennen is the Mikveh Center Director, trained as a guide and educator in 2010. Before joining the team at Mayyim Hayyim, Leah was a Child Development instructor and Early Parenting Group facilitator at Isis Parenting. Prior to that, she was the Manager of the Group Mentoring Department at the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. Leah earned her MSW, with a group work certificate, and MPH degrees from Boston University. She is currently a Community Based Big Sister, on faculty at the Boston University School of Social Work, as well as a teacher and clinical consultant for Girls’ LEAP Self Defense.