by Lisa Berman, Mikveh and Education Director

carIt’s dark out. Cold. Inside the car we are warm and cozy, zooming along the highway. The heater vents whoosh warm air, creating a soothing white noise. My daughter sits in the passenger seat, eating her dinner from a divided plastic container – cut up chicken in one section, grapes in another, some pasta with butter. She’s a little sweaty, but not that pungent, teen boy kind of sweaty – just humid and smelling of chalk and mats and unwashed wrist guards. Her carefully brushed, eyebrow-raising tight ponytail has come loose and disheveled and droops to one side. She munches. I drive. There is none of the panicked insanity of four hours earlier when an on-time arrival seems always to be thwarted by a late departure, impossible I-95 rush hour traffic, palpable tension and high volume exchanges. Now, a little bit exhausted – maybe a lot – on a nearly empty highway, darkness cocooning us, we talk. Quietly, in short sentences, without drama or intensity.

Every parent knows about the car conversations. Captive audience? Perhaps just a safe, secure, place with a hint of anonymity. A time when small truths can be offered and absorbed.

I am reminded of these times when I work with mothers and daughters in the programs Mayyim Hayyim offers just for them, Beneath the Surface and Bridging the Gap. In each gathering, I see, not ground-breaking revelations, but rather small moments of closeness that build on each other, week after week, creating new threads of connection between girls and their moms – gossamer but resilient. Our programs are designed to provide both the environment that will permit participants to feel secure and comfortable enough to open up to each other, and fun, engaging activities that will give them a roadmap to do so.

m adn dBridging the Gap, our program for 8th and 9th grade girls and their moms includes activities that ask “when am I my best self?”, that teach how a simple ritual such as hand washing can be used to reflect on transitions in our days and lives, that reflect on what has been and will be passed on from mother to daughter, and that explore the traditions, stories, recipes, holidays, objects, and more that have been passed down through generations to create unique family tapestries. Together we write and draw and paint and create and talk and share and laugh and eat our way through two sweet, enjoyable, memorable Sunday afternoons. Here’s what last year’s participants had to say about Bridging the Gap.

“It created a closeness between us, and an opportunity and willingness to share with one another.”

“I had a good time, and I really bonded more with my mother.”

“It was meaningful to remember the special things about my daughter and tell her by incorporating them into the ritual.”

“It was lovely, welcoming, intimate, a chance to bond with my daughter, and a great learning experience.”

“It’s a really great peaceful experience overall, and I loved it.”

“It helped us to create a closer, more peaceful relationship.”

Join us this year on January 18th and 25th from 3:00 – 5:30pm for Bridging the Gap. It’s like a car conversation that magically works in the daylight, too. For more information and registration:, 617-244-1836 x203 or

Lisa Berman is the Mikveh and Education Director at Mayyim Hayyim, ensuring that all immersions are facilitated with dignity, respect and modesty and supervising the Paula Brody & Family Education Center.