by Mike Fishbein
Temple Israel of Boston and The Tent: A Jewish Learning Community for Greater Boston Teens at Temple Israel of Boston have brought our last four 12th grade classes to Mayyim Hayyim. The program occurs just before their graduation from our teen education community. These visits have been many things: highly successful educational experiences, meaningful encounters with Jewish tradition, special gatherings of sacred community, and moving moments of reflection shared by close friends.
Every student we’ve brought to Mayyim Hayyim has discovered something new about mikveh. They have appreciated the beauty of Mayyim Hayyim and the way that intention and meaning is so clearly evident in every aspect of the space. Even without immersing, they sit in the beautiful mikveh rooms and access the ritual as a metaphor for their passage from high school and home out into a larger world.
During our now-traditional “Senior Class Night Out” visit to Mayyim Hayyim last May, I listened to one of my students use a biblical story he’d studied in our program to explain his sense of mikveh, a Jewish concept that was mostly new to him. I heard him describe how this new discovery might integrate into his Jewish life. This moment gave me the joyful opportunity to tell my students, “Remember, we haven’t taught you everything. There are so many Jewish ideas we didn’t get to learn together! And that’s a good thing; you are ready to encounter new ideas and to continue the work of creating you.” I was so proud and moved in that moment, as I had been with others like it each visit before.
Our time at the mikveh has been deeply meaningful for our graduates. That it also renews me as an educator has been the unexpected, delightful gift of our partnership with Mayyim Hayyim. I’m grateful that we’ll return with our fifth group of graduates this spring.
Mayyim Hayyim wishes our sincerest mazel tov to Mike on his recent honor of being named one of Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ Chai in the Hub 2018 award winners. We are grateful for his service to the Greater Boston Jewish Community.
Mike Fishbein is Assistant Director of Education at Temple Israel of Boston and is Director of The Tent: A Jewish Learning Community for Greater Boston Teens at Temple Israel of Boston. Before his work as a Jewish educator, Mike spent five years as a high school Biology teacher and two years as the manager of a Beacon Hill restaurant. He loves to cook (and to eat!), read, and travel, and he loves Jamaica Plain, where he lives with his amazing spouse, Rebecca, and wonderful kids, Benjamin and Ezra.