by Lisa Berman, Mikveh & Education Director

It’s that time of year when we’re surrounded by lists – top ten best movies of the year, books, songs, the like. Here at Mayyim Hayyim, we judge ourselves by our impact on our guests. Did they have a positive experience? Were they made to feel welcome? Did we do all we could to allow them the opportunity for a spiritual experience?

We are blessed to have a form of instant feedback. Our guest book shows us each day exactly how we are doing.

Here are my Top Ten Favorite Guest Book Quotes of the last six months, with a little commentary from your editor.

“Mayyim Hayyim makes me feel safe. Thank you for providing me with a judgement-free zone to immerse and become pure again.” — Ricki

Nothing we do is more important than making people feel safe. Without that assurance, it is impossible to open up, to allow oneself to feel vulnerable. It is in that place of vulnerability that powerful emotions are unlocked.

“I emerged the person I always wanted to be.” –L. A. C.

Those are my personal favorite nine words in our guest book all year. It made me want to get in the water right that minute, in the hopes that I, too, would emerge the person I always wanted to be. At the very least, this person’s powerful words should cause us all to stop and think about who it is we want to be, how we can become that person, and if an immersion experience could help.

“Thank you for providing a safe space for me to let go of weight I don’t want anymore [before Rosh Hashanah].” –S.

Can’t you just feel the weight of a year’s worth of challenges, disappointments, hurt, stress, hard work, difficult conversations… all sliding effortlessly into the warm water and dissolving away forever, allowing us to emerge light and free and new?

“13 (the big 13)”.

Remember The Big 13? I love that The Big 13 now includes a visit to the mikveh… and The Big 25, 40, 60, 75…

“I felt like my body was opening up to me. This was the best first experience I could ask for.”

In a time so fraught with messages of body image disunity, I loved this person’s depiction of his/her/their body. I wish more teens knew this power of the mikveh.

“I feel so appreciative of the warm welcome as part of preparation for my queer interfaith wedding.”

As American Judaism races forward in its diversity, we want to be at the forefront of embracing it; I’m so proud we were for this person.

“It’s amazing how one small act can make you feel so different inside.” –Courtney

Be it an act of service to others or service to oneself, remember not to imagine the bar so high; it is within our reach with “one small act” to effect change.

“Thank you for the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors. I feel renewed and integrated.”

Let’s remember that mikveh is not a new idea (albeit one Mayyim Hayyim has definitely re-envisioned), but rather an opportunity to connect with a thousands-year old ritual enacted by our foremothers and fathers. That fact alone can deepen the experience as we imagine ourselves taking the same steps down into the water as they did.

“Thank you for such a special time for us to come, bless, meditate, and be in the moment before our daughter is born. It truly feels as if time stands still as the waters embrace you.” –Randi & Daniel

Can’t you just see this radiant couple, she blooming in her late pregnancy, he beaming with pride and affection? What a beautiful moment of peace and possibility.

“All I felt was nervous and scared, but after I felt very accomplished and happy!! :)” –Gregory, 10

Mikveh is definitely an intimidating and alien idea for a ten year-old boy. Our extraordinary Mikveh Guides relish the opportunity to help guests such as Gregory feel comfortable, confident, safe, and enthusiastic — and it works!

It’s been a remarkable year at Mayyim Hayyim. I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring.

If you are inspired by any of these guests’ words of encouragement, we’d love to hear from you and help you imagine your own immersion experience. Call, email, stop by, or request an immersion here.

lisa-blog-photoLisa Berman is the Mikveh and Education Director at Mayyim Hayyim, ensuring that all immersions are facilitated with dignity, respect, and modesty, and supervising the Paula Brody & Family Education Center.