by Rose A. Lewis
The weeks and days before a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a wedding, or any major life event can be filled with lists, errands, and let’s face it, a bit of anxiety for the entire family. As much as I tried not to embrace the tumult before my daughter Ming’s Bat Mitzvah eight years ago, it was difficult to avoid. Somehow I was clear-headed enough to realize it was important that we find a moment before her Bat Mitzvah to take a collective breath, and truly enjoy this time of preparation.
I remembered there was a new mikveh just a few miles from our home. I had not been there but read descriptions about this extraordinary treasure in the Boston community and decided this would be the perfect place to find some uninterrupted mother-daughter time. I booked our appointment for late Thursday afternoon, just about 48 hours before Ming’s Bat Mitzvah. A busy time, but the perfect time and place to be together.
This would not be our first experience at a mikveh. I had adopted Ming from China in 1996, and two years later we immersed ourselves at an older, darker mikveh, surrounded by a rabbi and my parents, for Ming’s conversion.
While that immersion was a bit chaotic given the audience and Ming’s young age, I had a good feeling that Mayyim Hayyim, set back from the road and nestled among the trees, would provide us with just the right space to find the real meaning in what was to come in the next two days.
When we arrived at Mayyim Hayyim we were greeted warmly and led to the changing area, which had a door leading directly into the mikveh; a large private area with a small, warm pool that immediately enveloped us. Ming and I were quiet for a bit, each exploring the water and our surroundings, and yes, taking those deep breaths we both needed. Around the pool were prayers on little stands. We held hands under water and said a few prayers together in Hebrew and English. We both tilted our heads back into the water and looked up at the early spring sky through the magnificent skylights. We could see the bare trees just starting to bud. New life I thought, and a new chapter for my daughter and me.
We moved around in the water a bit longer, neither of us wanting to leave the beauty and peace of this extraordinary spot, and as the sun set we left the mikvah to prepare to go home. I remember thanking the woman at the desk and writing in the book how much this moment had meant to us and what a wonderful way for people to connect before a major life event, or just because.
Walking to our car, Ming and I talked about the calmness we felt and the thrill of experiencing Mayyim Hayyim. We promised to tell others about this wonderful place, and we have! Thank you Mayyim Hayyim for being part of our Bat Mitzvah story.
Learn more about Mayyim Hayyim’s Beneath the Surface program for Bat Mitzvah girls and their mothers.
Rose A. Lewis is a marketing and communications professional and the author of four children’s books, including The New York Times bestseller, I Love You Like Crazy Cakes. She lives in Massachusetts with her daughter and their lovable Sealyham Terrier, Oliver.