Freedom on the Other Side

by Carrie Bornstein, Executive Director

CBTapestryOne morning at Mayyim Hayyim, the doorbell rang. I picked up on the intercom with my usual, “Hi, can I help you?” and was met with a nervous, “Hi… I, um… I wanted to get some information?”

I slapped on my nametag and went downstairs to greet our guest. The woman, likely not that much younger than I, apologized almost immediately for the tears that were about to come.

She explained how she’d immersed at Mayyim Hayyim before her wedding, and felt that she had to come back. “My marriage has gone seriously downhill,” she continued, “and I just feel safe here.”

I thanked her for coming and offered to get her a glass of water.

Yes, I said. I was glad she came.

I spent the next fifteen minutes or so trying to assess what kind of help she was looking for, and what exactly we could offer. I ran through a mental checklist of community resources… support groups, therapists, Journey to Safety, and it wasn’t until the very end of my list that I spoke with her about considering an immersion in the mikveh, if it ever felt right. I explained the slippery slope that sometimes arises – there is no magic here. The mikveh will not make everything better, nor will it cause all of life’s jumbled pieces to fall into place. It can, however, mark a step on the journey, bringing a level of consciousness and meaning not necessarily there otherwise.

The thing that struck me most was what she said next. “I feel like my life has been one danger zone after another – I run from something scary, and yet I always come to water. The thing is, I never know what’s coming next – it’s just a big unknown.”

Like crossing the Red Sea.

“In every generation each person is obligated to see oneself as though she/he personally came out of Egypt.”

For some, it’s easier than others.

Each of us carries around things we try to run away from. Sometimes, a stop at the water, that unknown threshold between the past and the future, can be just the right place to unload it for a bit.

Whether your own personal Egypt seems big or small, I invite you to come immerse at Mayyim Hayyim in preparation for Passover to mark that step on your journey. It just might be the one you need to take to move towards freedom on the other side.

Carrie Bornstein is Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director.


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