The annual Rising Tide Wellspring Awards honor individuals and organizations who embody our shared values. We celebrate those who act as wellsprings, brining healing waters to Jewish communities around the globe. These awardees are nominated by Rising Tide Network members across the world, and we are thrilled to recognize the waves of impact they’ve made on the open mikveh movement.
2023: Inaugural Wellspring Awards
Click each Awardee’s picture to view their acceptance speech.
Outstanding Mikveh Guide: Andrea Kuti
Andi (Andrea Kuti) is a certified Doula and a 5th year student at the Aleph Rabbinical Seminary. Andi is originally from Budapest, Hungary, and now lives in Cape Town, South Africa, where she has been researching, teaching about, and facilitating mikveh immersions for the last 14 years. Andi loves creating rituals and sacred spaces uniquely tailored for each occasion and immersion. In a community that does not yet have an open mikveh, she goes to great lengths facilitating mikveh immersions that are welcoming, safe, beautiful, and transformative to all members of the Jewish community. Andi creatively partners with nature to facilitate gentle, yet powerful, mikveh immersions in seas, lakes, and dams amid the mountains. Through song, teaching, innovative ritual, and compassion, Andi is able to welcome anyone into the holiness of water, ensuring every immersee feels safe, held, connected, and inspired through mikveh. View Andrea’s acceptance speech here.
Exceptional Mikveh Educator: Tracie Bernstein
Tracie Bernstein is a skilled facilitator with extensive experience providing collaborative, comfortable, and productive spaces for team building, mediation and visioning. Tracie is a founding leader at MACoM (Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah), and co-authored its 8-hour Guide Training, which has welcomed more than 50 mikveh guides into service over the 7 years since MACoM opened its doors. Tracie also serves on MACoM’s board, has developed mikveh immersions for healing, and provides ongoing community workshops.
Tracie’s approach to facilitation draws from profound Jewish wisdom to enhance group cohesion and articulate shared goals. Utilizing decades of organizational experience and her skill as a deep listener and conversation guide, Tracie draws out multiple perspectives, helping teams identify their core needs and values, and how to meet them through shared problem solving that respects every voice in the room. View Tracie’s acceptance speech here.
Amazing Mikveh Mobilizer: Naomi Malka
For the past 17 years, Naomi Malka (she/her) has been a mikveh professional in a wide variety of roles. As the mikveh director of The Soul Center in Baltimore, MD (2022-2023) and the director of the Adas Israel Community Mikvah in Washington, DC (2006-2022), Naomi has witnessed thousands of immersions, designed and facilitated numerous educational programs, and written extensively about the relevance of mikveh for Jews of all backgrounds. She trained as a Mikveh Guide at Mayyim Hayyim in Newton, MA in 2008 and was a founding member of the Rising Tide Network. She is also the creator of Tevila b’Teva: immersion in nature, a program that introduces outdoor immersion to Jewish summer camps. Naomi developed an award-winning program called “Bodies of Water,” to introduce kids ages 10+ to learn about mikveh as a tool for positive body image and healthy decision making from a Jewish perspective. She earned a masters in Sacred Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000 and a BA in Sociology from UCLA in 1991. View Naomi’s acceptance speech here.
Mikveh Champion Clergy: Rabbi Julie Zupan
Rabbi Julie Zupan (she/her) is the Director of Jewish Engagement and Learning for the Union for Reform Judaism, where her work is focused on welcoming newcomers from diverse backgrounds through adult Jewish learning and on building inclusive Jewish communities. She also serves as Director of the Gerecht Family Outreach Institute, which trains HUC-JIR rabbinic and cantorial students to guide individuals exploring conversion.
She is proud to have introduced hundreds of Introduction to Judaism students and others to the transformative waters of mikveh, both at the Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh in Newton and online.
Rabbi Zupan holds a B.A. from Tufts University and smicha (rabbinic ordination) from HUC-JIR. She lives in Sharon, Massachusetts, where she is an active member of Temple Sinai of Sharon. View Rabbi Julie’s acceptance speech here.
Collaborative Community Partner: The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland
The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland (JFGP) took a major leap of leadership to create a beautiful mikveh that is welcoming and accessible to the entire community. In partnership with the Oregon Board of Rabbis and the Portland Kollel, JFGP co-created Rachel’s Well Community Mikvah, providing overall leadership, vision, and funding to get the project started. Embodying the value of shutafut (partnership), JFGP convened community leaders, businesses, diverse stakeholders, and city officials to ensure the new mikveh was shaped by the voices and visions of everyone in the community. Over the past five years, the organization has continued to grow, oversee, and manage the mikveh, ensuring a safe and welcoming place for all Jews to have meaningful immersion experiences. View the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s acceptance speech here.