by Carrie Bornstein, Executive Director
Exactly ten years ago this week, I walked in to Mayyim Hayyim for my first day on the job. I was hired to be the Mikveh Center Director, the organization’s first full-time professional other than Aliza Kline, the founding director. My hair was a lot longer, I’d been a mother for just shy of eight months, and eager to follow through from the beginning, I returned to Boston right after attending my grandmother’s funeral to start my new role.
At that point I had been volunteering as a Mikveh Guide for a year and a half and, though I knew I loved all things Mayyim Hayyim, I was anxious about the risk I was taking by adding yet another transition to my resume. Hopeful that the decision to leave an otherwise fulfilling job would prove worthwhile, I began the process of finding out whether the insides of the organization really matched its outsides. Back in high school, I worked in a few food establishments (you know, the regular… a bakery, a steakhouse, a greasy, fried chicken joint), and my perspectives on each of those places changed considerably when I got to know the guts of them behind the scenes.
I took a chance on an unknown, and because our community took a chance on Mayyim Hayyim, too, it’s paid off in spades for all of us.
From those early days when I was fortunate enough to learn from Aliza how to lead an organization that lives its values, to now having more than five years as Executive Director under my belt, it’s remarkable to see how very far we’ve come and yet, how much we’ve stayed the same.
On my first day in 2008, we had 73 Mikveh Guides. Today we have trained a total of 192. Back then we welcomed 716 people for 1,254 immersions; last year 927 people immersed a total of 1,600 times. Ten years ago we had just paid off the final $35,000 of our $600,000 construction loan; today our mortgage is paid in full, and we are fully debt-free. We pushed the envelope back then in terms of what it meant to provide a welcoming and inviting mikveh experience for all, and we’re pushing it forward today in new ways, too.
2018 will be no different in the progress we’ll make, and with each additional person who experiences a moment of inspiration within and beyond our walls, our impact increases exponentially.
By the end of 2018, you’ll be able to hold Facing Fertility: A Jewish Healing Guide in your hands, and you’ll be able to share it with a loved one who so desperately needs it. We’ll have launched our Rising Tide national mikveh network and have gathered together to watch our momentum build. You’ll have had the opportunity to attend a benefit event the likes of which you’ve never seen before, and our IT platforms will continue to be upgraded to help us fulfill our mission as efficiently as possible. Individuals and families will share how their lives were changed in ways that we can’t even imagine today.
It’s no accident that Mayyim Hayyim is labeled a “community” mikveh. We are strong because of each of you helps to make it so. Because of your involvement, I know that together we will achieve great things in 2018.
Since Mayyim Hayyim opened in 2004 and over the past ten years, we’ve accomplished so much together. Thank you for joining me on this journey and for your partnership in facilitating all the stories that will come from the next ten years. I can’t wait to see it all happen.
Carrie Bornstein is the Executive Director of Mayyim Hayyim.