On May 11th, Mayyim Hayyim’s annual benefit, Making History, will celebrate two visionary leaders for making history in our community.
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 recalls studying the work of fellow honoree Jonathan Sarna in that class.
When she and her spouse, Mark, were planning their wedding, they turned to Anita Diamant’s The New Jewish Wedding, and separately immersed in a traditional mikveh as part of their preparation. When the experience fell short, Shanna 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 readiness 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 parents to Caleb, Jonah, and Gideon, and 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. She has also served as Vice President of the Board and Governance Chair. 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 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.”
Join us for a fun and festive evening of storytelling. RSVP or donate here.