Growing Up Without Starting Over

By Carrie Bornstein, Executive Director 

Carrie, Aliza, Anita

Outgoing voicemail message re-recorded: check.

Email signature reflecting new title: check.

Business cards, name tag: check, check.

Facebook status updated for first day on the job… now it must be real.

The number one question I’ve received recently is, “So, what’s next for Mayyim Hayyim?  Are you going to make all kinds of changes, or what?”

Despite our similar haircuts and (according to one volunteer – a linguist) parallel speech patterns, Aliza and I have talked a lot about our differences.  I’m 5’ 6”, and well, she’s 5 feet, 2 and a half, (she reminds me) inches.  She’s a vegetarian; I like my meat rare… “crying for its mother,” as my grandmother says.

But I digress.

Aliza is a start-up gal: new, inventive, something from nothing.

Me?  The idea of creating a new organization from scratch gives me the willies. I’m more of the “take what’s in place and make it even better” kind.

It’s helpful to have a reporter put it into words for me.  Yes, I want to make sure we continue to stay inclusive, accessible, relevant, and safe.  I want to develop community-minded mikvehs around the country into a formal network of affiliates sharing standards and practices.  I want to take our solid foundation, along with the house that rests on it, and make it even shinier.  Continue to fill it with warm, sensitive people.  Maybe add on an addition someday.

Quite simply, Mayyim Hayyim has been open for eight years. We can grow up without starting over.

The board and staff have been dreaming up plans to ensure our sustainability.  We want to invest in technology to make sure our infrastructure stays current. Enhance our branding.  Create new videos.  Develop and share more curricula.  Hone plans for national consultation.

Last spring Bikkurim released their report, “From First Fruits to Abundant Harvest: Maximizing the Potential of Innovative Jewish Start-Ups,”  identifying characteristics of successful start-up organizations and highlighting the unique needs and challenges that Jewish “post-start-up” organizations face.

Reading it was like looking in an organizational mirror.

“Post-start-ups… strive for clear vision regarding whether and how to grow, seek diversified and stable sources of funding, and need to build mature boards of directors and strong professional leadership teams.”

Yes. This is where we are, and this is where we’re going.

And – we’re dynamic.  Always responding to the real wants and needs of the community, and inviting people in to help shape our work.

We are strong because of all of your voices.  In Boston, and around the world.  Conservative, Reform, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Please Don’t Label Me… Jews with disabilities, Jews of color, interfaith families, the GLBT community… Mikveh Guides, board members, our staff… rabbis, cantors, seminary students… our online community and twitter friends… people who have been excluded from their own local mikveh, dreamers to create something different.

We need your voices to help us achieve our goals.  Weigh in – right here on the blog, on Facebook or Twitter, call or email, stop by and lend your voice.  You’ve helped us get this far, now help propel us to our next decade and beyond.

Carrie Bornstein is Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director and has been with the organization since 2006.  A magna cum laude graduate of Skidmore College, Carrie received her Master’s degree in Social Work from Boston University with a focus on Macro Practice, including non-profit management, planning and program development, and community organizing. A graduate of the first cohort of DeLeT (Day School Leadership through Teaching) at Brandeis University, Carrie also studied at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.  

Carrie lives in Sharon, MA with her husband, Jamie, and their two young children, Eliana and Dov. Follow her on twitter @carolinering.


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