by Carrie Bornstein
Over the years I’ve seen practices emerge, celebrated on Facebook and elsewhere, about adopting an attitude of Gratitude, a.k.a. The Gratitude Challenge, #givingthanks, and #365Grateful. I’ll admit – while I like the idea of these sorts of habits – they just don’t do it for me. Who’s got time to name something they’re grateful for every.single.day when we’re all just so darn busy? That’s why I like Thanksgiving. Well, it’s the sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, really, but a close runner-up is that this time of giving thanks is so in our faces. An inescapable mass effort to remember our blessings in life, no matter how buried they may seem when it feels like the world is crumbling around us.
As much as the mindfulness of gratitude can escape me on a day-to-day basis however, I’m taking this opportunity to extend the blessings not only with an attitude of gratitude, but rather with the magnitude of gratitude.
True, I’m surrounded by great blessings every day of the year: my family, dear friends, good health, the opportunity to laugh. But nothing pulls me back more to the big picture, than seeing the impact of our work at Mayyim Hayyim.
Just recently, the following people visited Mayyim Hayyim all in the same day:
- A woman who became Jewish
- Four women for their monthly niddah immersions (two Orthodox, one Conservative, one unaffiliated
- One man for niddah (this has become one of my favorite reasons for immersion – men who immerse monthly on the same day as their partners, in an effort to create an egalitarian practice)
- A woman in her 20’s who brought three close friends as she immersed prior to starting a new type of cancer treatment. With confidence, she led her timid friends through the visit and as her smooth, hairless head emerged from the water, one friend said to her softly, “You are so beautiful.”
- A teenager who converted here as a baby. Since her first visit, the girl has been hospitalized for self-harm and her mother said that of all the things suggested to support her healing, mikveh seemed to be the only thing that interested her. The girl and her mom each immersed, taking a long time to go through each step. It’s sometimes hard to know exactly what a person takes away from their experience, but the Mikveh Guide recounted that when she dressed and came out of the mikveh, the girl kept off the many bracelets that had covered her wrists. She left the building without the dark makeup that had covered her eyes, and the hair that had concealed her face was now behind her ears.
The following week two men drove in from out-of-state to convert their newborn son. With joy we celebrated together but what happened next was truly incredible. Posting their photo on Facebook to extend the celebration, our online community went wild together – 380 people liked the post and 28 people commented with wishes of mazal tov. Because of all this interaction, the algorithm-wizard passed this photo in front of 12,815 people. (No… we didn’t pay to boost the post, and no… we don’t typically get numbers like these.)
So what I’m doing, and what I’m asking you to do, is to take these stories and multiply them by the 1,518 immersions we’ve hosted in the past twelve months – our busiest year ever.
That, my dear readers, is the magnitude of gratitude.
I am grateful for all the people who walk through our doors, who offer opportunities of healing and celebration to others by sharing our stories, who volunteer their time helping to run this organization, who serve as our talented staff, and who give financially to help sustain us and even grow for the future.
What an impact we are having on the Jewish community. Together. Thank you.
Carrie Bornstein is very thankful to be Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director.