leah-photoby Leah Hart Tennen, Mikveh Center Director

Last week marked the end of my first year as a full-time employee at Mayyim Hayyim.  Many have heard me joke, “If you harass people enough, they’ll hire you,” but the truth is, I am incredibly lucky to be able to pass under the sign reading “boachem l’shalom” (come in peace) on my way in each morning, and “tzeitchem l’shalom” (go in peace) on my way out each evening.

The best part of my job by far, is working with and, learning from our wonderful, sensitive, highly trained, empathic, warm, caring, smart, talented and unique Mikveh Guides.  Can you tell that I am in awe of them?  Not only do they volunteer their time to ensure that each person’s immersion is sacred, but they do so much behind the scenes: laundry, returning phone calls, cleaning bathtubs, and making tea, not to mention the 30+ hours of training they went through in order to become a Mikveh Guide in the first place. They are social workers, occupational therapists, nurses, scientists, doctors, attorneys, educators, rabbis, cantors, and students.  They come from all different denominations of Judaism, many of them having chosen Judaism for themselves as adults.  They range in age from their 20’s to 70’s.  They speak different languages and have different hobbies.  One thing, however, is the same for all of them…they hold Mayyim Hayyim as a special place in their hearts and lives, and do whatever it takes to make sure that each guest has the experience they want.

In 2012, we saw more and more men coming to immerse, and not just for conversions.  We had many grooms – which has come into somewhat common practice – but also men in mourning, healing from illness, and after a miscarriage; as well as 65th birthdays, prior to a son’s Bar Mitzvah and, with their partner prior to welcoming a child to the family.  This is great news!  The downside was that we didn’t have enough male Mikveh Guides to support all of these men.

Before coming to Mayyim Hayyim, I did a lot of work with girls and women, and see a great benefit to gender-specific services.  I wondered if more men might be interested in a training geared just for them.  Luckily, I didn’t have to wonder too much, as we just finished training our 8th cohort, welcoming nine new male Mikveh Guides into the fold.

Passover is just around the corner. I invite you to set aside 45 minutes to visit for an immersion to help you prepare. You can view our Preparing for Passover ceremony here, and click here to schedule your appointment. As many people will take time to tend their physical surroundings, Mayyim Hayyim encourages you to take some time for personal reflection and spiritual needs.  We have special men-only hours on Thursday, March 21st between 4:00 and 7:00pm.

Leah Hart Tennen trained as a mikveh guide and educator in 2010 before joining the Mayyim Hayyim staff in March of 2012.  Before coming to Mayyim Hayyim, Leah was a Child Development instructor and Early Parenting Group facilitator at Isis Parenting. Prior to that, she was the manager of the Group Mentoring Department of The Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. Leah earned her Masters in Social Work and Masters in Public Health from Boston University. She is currently a community-based Big Sister, on faculty at the Boston University School of Social Work, as well as a teacher and clinical consultant for Girls’ LEAP Self Defense.