by Lisa Berman, Mikveh and Education Director
Summer, yet very nearly fall. Tomatoes and basil replaced by apples and honey. Cut-grass and pinot grigio segue into damp leaves, nutmeg, and zinfandel. Barbecues morph into holiday dinners. The filled up buckets of summer possibilities have been overturned and stored away and we search for that great apple cake recipe from last year. Endings and beginnings, reflection and anticipation; season to season, holiday to holiday – now turning to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and their weighty questions and communal gatherings.
For many of us, preparation for these holidays involves shopping lists, cooking, traveling, digging out machzorim (holiday prayer books) from the back of the bookshelf, putting the service tickets on the frig, and realizing we have, again, not left enough time to take stock of our year, our deeds, our hopes, our intentions, our soul. But for the rabbis and cantors among us, preparation takes not a few days, but months. We prepare ourselves; they prepare to help each and every one of us. They choose each word, prayer, music, theme, text – choreographing every second of the hours we spend together these weeks – with the intent of inspiring hundreds, even thousands of very different individuals. Inspiring us to authentic reflection, to communal consciousness-raising, to spiritual heights and to meaningful remembrances.
This year, Mayyim Hayyim continues our eleven-year old tradition of offering complimentary immersions to clergy for a personal, private, quiet, preparatory ritual as a way of saying “thank you” for this tremendous task – and all the other ones throughout the year. In suits and ties, in jeans and sneakers, having finished writing five sermons or just starting the first, they come – 130 different rabbis and cantors over the past eleven years. They come to get ready, and, perhaps, to let go. To let go of the gravesides, the bedsides, the board meetings — the weight of the tsuris (woe, or troubles, in Yiddish) of hundreds of congregants laid on their shoulders all year. They come and emerge, unencumbered, ready to be filled with the joy of new beginnings – weddings, babies, Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations – and the smiling faces of a congregation looking up at them (please, let’s all smile), each one of us filled with the heady anticipation of a new year, a new soul, a new chance to make a difference in this world – to make ourselves whole, and wholly useful.
To the rabbis and cantors who grace our space at Mayyim Hayyim throughout the year, we say “thank you” for all you do. We hope to see you and be a part of your preparations. To everyone in the greater Boston area Jewish community, our mikva’ot are here to help you let go, move on, and face 5776 unencumbered and ready to smile.
To make an appointment click here or call 617-244-1836 x1.
“What an incredible blessing to immerse as a part of my own personal journey during these aseret yemei t’shuvah (ten days of repentance). Spending so much time in preparation for leading my congregation, it can be easy to let my own soul’s journey slide between the cracks. The intentionality of coming to the mikveh specifically during these ten days enhances my time with my soul and my goals in t’shuvah, (repentance, return).”
Read Mayyim Hayyim’s Immersion Ceremony for Yom Kippur.
Lisa Berman is neither a rabbi nor a cantor. She just enjoys hanging out with them at Mayyim Hayyim where she is the Mikveh & Education Director.