by Rachel Eisen, Director of Annual Giving
Let me tell you a little secret of mine. I actually hate getting in the water.
I’m not a fan of summer, in part because I’d rather be cold than hot, but also because I hate swimming. I can’t remember if I liked it as a kid or not, but it’s just not my thing.
I recently went on a camping trip with some friends who wanted to go tubing. I did everything I could to find an alternative activity. I proposed hiking and canoeing instead. I reluctantly packed the one bathing suit I own. Eventually, my partner and I ended up driving to the top of a mountain to see the views while the rest of the group floated down- river.
I recently mentioned my aversion to water at a staff meeting and joked, “I might have chosen to the wrong place to work!” Except that in reality, I chose the exact right place to work.
You see, Mayyim Hayyim is about more than the water. Yes, mikveh is a ritual that takes place in the water. But it’s so much more than that.
Of course, there’s the “dry side” of Mayyim Hayyim, where we run more than one hundred education programs every year for all ages. There’s the art gallery, which makes the mikveh beautiful. And truthfully, even the mikveh pool itself isn’t always about the water.
I immersed for the first time last year in preparation for the High Holy Days. When I think about that experience, the part I remember most is reading the Seven Kavanot as I got ready. I remember the silence in the mikveh as I ducked below the surface. I remember taking a few moments to myself after the Mikveh Guide left, looking up at the beautiful tiles and the way the light broke through the windows. I remember spinning around in a circle in the mikveh and thinking about everything I wanted the coming year to be.
Mayyim Hayyim is special because it’s more than just the physical mikveh. It’s an idea and a belief that ritual belongs to all of us to embrace in our own way. Whether that’s through learning and sharing about ritual innovation and inclusivity, or by getting in the water itself, Mayyim Hayyim is there for us–whether we love the water or not.
Rachel Eisen is Mayyim Hayyim’s Director of Annual Giving. As a figure skater, she prefers water in its solid form—but she’ll make an exception for immersing in the mikveh.