by Allison Schnipper
I recently had the opportunity to visit Mayyim Hayyim for the first time. My son’s 6th grade Hebrew School class from Temple Sinai of Sharon visited as part of their life cycle curriculum. Kids, parents, and teachers piled onto a school bus and traveled together to learn about the mikveh and see it firsthand. Our family has been donating to Mayyim Hayyim for years, and our cousin converted there, but I had never been there, nor to any mikveh. I really wasn’t sure what to expect and was surprisingly anxious about it.
As we entered, I was struck by the beautiful artwork on the walls and the feeling of being in a small, comfortable home. Leeza, the Associate Director of Education, greeted us and instantly made us feel comfortable and welcome. We learned about the meaning of the word mikveh, the biblical references, the mechanics, and the reasons one might visit. Leeza did a fantastic job of engaging the kids and answering all of our questions. The kids were paired up and guided by a scavenger hunt as we all explored the preparation rooms and the immersion pools.
I was completely taken by the mikveh. The immersion pools were beautiful and inviting. The preparation rooms with their words of kavanah (intention) were perfect for both the physical and spiritual preparations that precede immersion. It felt peaceful and spiritual.
I had never heard of a mikveh until I was an adult, and it had always seemed like some sort of mysterious place that I would never want to visit. As a Reform Jew, I didn’t think I would be welcome. But at Mayyim Hayyim, everyone is welcome. That is indeed the beauty of it.
Every year, I think about immersing at Mayyim Hayyim before the High Holidays, but I have always been too intimidated. I am so grateful that I had the chance to visit so that I no longer feel that way. My son will become a Bar Mitzvah in December, and I know that another visit to Mayyim Hayyim—this time to immerse—will be the perfect way to prepare my soul for our own life cycle event.
Allison Schnipper lives in Sharon with her husband and two children. For sixteen years, she has been helping people to organize their homes and offices through her business, Professional Organizing Services. She is a board member of Temple Sinai of Sharon and recently co-chaired the temple’s Czech Torah Restoration Project.