I have long dreamt of my first dip in the mikveh. When I interned at Mayyim Hayyim a few years ago, I often found myself pausing in the midst of a project to listen to the joyful sounds coming from downstairs. It was as if the singing floated up to the offices, reminding us of why we did this work. I frequently heard singing, clapping, and cries of “Mazal tov!” as many different kinds of people came to Mayyim Hayyim in their moments of transition, joy, and sorrow. I imagined my own immersion at Mayyim Hayyim: taking time to get ready, the calm serenity of the water, an intensity of emotion, the coolness of water against skin, and the sounds of singing with family and friends.
Although I interned at Mayyim Hayyim, I never actually immersed. Hearing stories of the mikveh’s impact on other people was immensely and deeply satisfying for me, and even sometimes overwhelmingly meaningful – and yet I never actually set foot in the mikveh. I felt unready for this experience, and I wanted it to be shrouded in a layer of personal meaning. I wanted to wait for a big moment in my life, a moment where I would remember my first immersion, and look back to it with joy. I wanted it to really mean something to me.
When I got engaged in March, I felt the huge greatness of this time in my life. I quickly made an appointment for an immersion before the wedding, even though we won’t be married until May. Thinking about the mikveh stories of my friends, I am so grateful to Mayyim Hayyim because I know that there is room for me there to make the experience what I want. I am grateful to know that I can shape this ancient ritual in a way that is meaningful to me.
It’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of wedding planning. Working with the venue and vendors, it can be easy to get caught in the details of throwing a great party. Right now, I feel a little bit like an event planner. But I know that when I make my first immersion in the waters next May, I will emerge a bride.
I can’t wait.
Hannah White is the Development and Communications Associate and Operations Manager at JOIN for Justice. A graduate of the Hornstein Program, Hannah interned at Mayyim Hayyim in 2009-2010. She is looking forward to her first immersion next May!