Making History

Making History

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be inspired
A fun and festive evening of storytelling and live music
Celebrating two visionary leaders we love for MAKING HISTORY in our community


Jonathan Sarna

Jonathan Sarna arrived in Boston at the age of ten. His father, Nahum Sarna, was a biblical scholar at Brandeis and his mother, Helen, a librarian and cataloger at Hebrew College. He attended Brandeis, and then Yale to study American history with a special focus on American religion.

Jonathan then worked and taught at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, home of the American Jewish Archives. That’s where he met his wife, Ruth Langer, now a professor of theology at Boston College. With Ruth in the family, Jonathan says, they had all of Jewish history covered. “My father covered the ancient period, Ruth does medieval, I do modern and contemporary.”

In 1990, Jonathan returned to Boston and Brandeis to assume the new Braun Chair in American Jewish history. One of his first projects was editing, with Ellen Smith, The Jews of Boston. Jonathan decided to write a one-volume history of Judaism in America. Shortly after beginning, however, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The prognosis was grim and he wondered whether he would live to finish the book. But he did recover and in 2004, to coincide with the 350th anniversary of American Jewish life, American Judaism: A History was published to great acclaim.

Jonathan has known about Mayyim Hayyim since its inception. He recalls talking to founding president Anita Diamant, and made his support known to the community. After Mayyim Hayyim opened, Jonathan brought young journalists from a program for North American religion reporters, as a case study in how to cover Jewish life and traditions. Mayyim Hayyim “was the highlight of the field trips. The journalists understood that this is lived religion, not just theology and thought.”

When Mayyim Hayyim hosted its first international conference in 2010, Jonathan agreed to participate in the keynote panel discussion. He recalls how impressed he was by that gathering: “This wasn’t just a singular institution. It had become a movement… This is something all Jews should be proud of.”

Shanna Shulman

Shanna was raised in a secular family in St. Louis and Chicago, where her parents helped establish St. Louis’s Central Reform Congregation. She first learned of mikveh while taking a Jewish studies course in college—coincidentally, she was assigned reading by fellow honoree Jonathan Sarna.

After college, Shanna spent time in Israel, where she first encountered an actual mikveh, exploring the remains of Masada’s archeological site. Returning home, she met her spouse, Mark, and they set out to create a Jewish life together in Boston. After reading Anita Diamant’s The New Jewish Wedding, Shanna immersed in a traditional mikveh before their wedding in 1998. When the experience fell short, she did it again—in solitude at an outdoor pool in the mountains—a little less traditional, but a more comfortable way for her to connect with the ritual.

In 2004, when Mayyim Hayyim was preparing to open, Shanna was to be the very first immersion. She planned to mark her preparation for the birth of her second child, and created a ritual that became the basis for Mayyim Hayyim’s Ninth Month of Pregnancy ceremony. Her son arrived before the mikveh was ready, so Shanna immersed three months later to acknowledge his safe delivery. Since then, she and her family have regularly marked important life events at Mayyim Hayyim.

Shanna and Mark are the delighted parents of Caleb, Jonah, and Gideon, and they are members of Temple Beth Avodah. Professionally, Shanna works to increase access to health care for vulnerable populations.

Shanna joined the Mayyim Hayyim Board of Directors in 2014 and was instrumental in shaping its first strategic plan; she is now spearheading our next. For Shanna, Mayyim Hayyim is a meaningful connection to Judaism that is intentional, relevant, and rooted in tradition. “So often we find ourselves in a point of pain or transition – or that we haven’t taken the time to celebrate when something wonderful happens. I love sharing Mayyim Hayyim as a resource for those moments in our lives.”

Co-Chairs and Host Committee

Co-chairs and Host Committee

Mark Barer, Ziva R. and Jonah Hassenfeld, Sue and Robert Housman, Ruth Langer, Barry and Ellie Schrage, Dalia* and Ari Wassner

HOST COMMITTEE (as of 3/11/2020): 
Join the Host Committee

Host Committee as of March 11

Cheryl Aronson
Bert Barer
Allison Bauer
Joan and Steve Belkin
Lisa^ and Jeff Berman
Alison and Ed Bermant
Diane*^ and Chester Black
Michelle and Darren Black
Dr. Debra Block and Rabbi William Hamilton
Joan Blum and Daniel Hassenfeld
Margie and Michael Bogdanow
Carrie^ and Jamie Bornstein
Sara Riedner Brown and Stephen Brown
Amber^ and Joshua Caulkins
Howard Cohen and Myra Musicant
Shira* and Ariel Cohen-Goldberg
Kimberly and Gary Creem
Rachel A. Daniels
Kimberly Davidson and Jonathan Golden
Margie Ross Decter and Adam Decter
Anita Diamant* and Jim Ball^
Suzanne and David Diamond
Mady and Dr. Bruce Donoff
Elizabeth Eggert
Marshall and Deborah Skolnick Einhorn
Rachel Eisen and Nathan Vaughan
Judy and Rabbi Joshua Elkin
Sherri Ades Falchuk* and Dr. Kenneth Falchuk
Sharon Feiman-Nemser and Louis Nemser
Merle and Rabbi Eddie Feld
Amy*^ and Jonathan Fleming
Claudia Folkman^
Laura Shaw Frank and Rabbi Aaron Frank
Linda and Michael Frieze
Deb Gaffin* and Richard Bennett
Jay and Barbara Gainsboro
Zelda^ and Dr. Elkan Gamzu
Nicole and Joshua Gann
Rachel Glazer
Cantorial Soloist Susan Glickman
Lucy Goodhart and Gordon Bennett
Beth and Larry Greenberg
Sheri* and Eli Gurock
Wendy^ and Steven Handler
Elisa and Barney Heath
Susan and Bruce Heitler
Elyse Hyman
Ronda and Josh Jacobson
Lisa Fishbayn Joffe and Jonathan Joffe
Anne and David Kalis
Lynn and Alexander Kaye
Nava and Barnet Kessel
Darci and Jonathan Klein
Kelly Knopf-Goldner and Mark Goldner
Rabbi Ira Korinow and Sally Bock
Jamie* and Harold Kotler
Rabbi Claudia Kreiman
Doreen^ and Dr. Andrew Kriegel
Bobby and Arthur Kurzweil
Dr. Lori Lefkovitz and Rabbi Leonard Gordon
Marcia and Alan Leifer
Gail Levine-Fried, PhD and Robert M. Fried, EdD
Shahin Lockman
Beth Silverberg Marx and Dan Marx
Jane Matlaw
Miriam May and Shaye Cohen
Daniel Miller
Leeza Negelev^ and David Zenaty
Becky Oliver
Marcy Scheingold Ravech
Sheila Reback
Dr. Judith Rosenbaum and Rabbi Or Rose
Adene Sacks and Joey Hellerstein
Rabbi Rachel* and Doug Saphire
Rosalie* and Dr. Sol Schulman
Stacy Schwartz
Rebecca and David Sendor-Israel
Peter*^ and Betty Shapiro
Ellen Smith and Bill Pastuszek
Ilana S. Snapstailer
Rabbis Liza and Keith Stern*
Hope and Adam Suttin
Carol*^ and Dr. Steven Targum
Rhoda and David Trietsch*
Martha Hausman and Rabbi Andrew Vogel
Lisa Weinman
Karen Wolfson*
Barbara and Rabbi Hank Zoob

*Board Member
^Mikveh Guide

Sponsorships and Tickets

Become a sponsor and show your support

Program Book Deadline – April 23

Event Sponsorship - $20,000+

Blessing on inside cover (4.75w x 7.5h inches) + 10 VIP tickets

Ocean - $10,000+

Blessing on inside cover (4.75w x 7.5h inches) + 10 VIP tickets

Sea - $5,000+

Full page blessing (4.75w x 7.5h inches) + 8 VIP tickets

Lake - $3,600+

Full page blessing (4.75w x 7.5h inches) + 6 VIP tickets

River - $2,500+

Half page blessing (4.75w x 3.425h inches) + 4 VIP tickets

Stream - $1,800+

Half page blessing (4.75w x 3.425h inches) + 2 tickets

Pond - $1,000+

Quarter page blessing (2.255w x 3.425h inches) + 2 tickets

Brook - $500+

Eighth page blessing (2.255w x 1.72h inches) + 2 tickets

Under 35 Host Committee - $118+

Name listing + 1 ticket

General Admission - $54

General admission is $54 per ticket

Youth under 18 - $18

Youth tickets for 18 and under are $18

Celebrate with us

RSVP & Donate

Join the Host Committee

Questions? To learn more, contact Rachel Eisen, Director of Development or call 617-244-1836 ext. 211.

RSVP or Donate
Join the Host Committee

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Questions? To learn more, contact Rachel Eisen, or call 617-244-1836 ext. 211.