By Steph Black
It’s not often you can feel, in real time, pieces of your identity fall into place. Though I was apprehensive to attend, the Rising Tide Summer Gathering was invaluable for me as a person, as a Jew, and as a young woman.
I was able to attend because of Naomi Malka, Director of the Adas Israel Community Mikvah, who offered to have me tag along for the gathering at the Pearlstone Retreat Center. Being so new to mikveh (before the gathering I had only had one short introductory program and one immersion), I had no frame of reference to even know what to expect, let alone be nervous about anything specific.
But I was thoroughly blown away by this retreat. Every aspect of the gathering was intentional and focused on education, community, and deep dedication for the mission of Rising Tide: establishing mikveh as part of the full diversity of the Jewish communal landscape by articulating best practices, fostering innovation, and building partnerships.
Going in, I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know. While not every one of my buzzing questions could be answered in two and a half days, I feel energized and invigorated to begin educating myself. I am so grateful to Naomi, Rising Tide, and the Adas Community Mikvah for this opportunity.
Through the poignant sessions on storytelling, best practices, and how build a community around a deeply personal and private ritual, I felt how mikveh practice grew in importance to me as I went through the sessions.
I can’t wait not only to begin using mikveh regularly but encouraging my peers to learn more as well. It means so much that not only was I allowed to attend as a 21-year-old, but that I was so encouraged at every session, conversation, and gathering. I left feeling so empowered, and that is in large part due to the incredible work of the Rising Tide Open Waters Mikveh Network and all of the incredible women who organized this. I am touched and I am changed. Thank you.
Steph Black is a women’s studies major at American University in DC, a city she loves. Steph can be found reading next to her cat, Goose, writing about feminism and Judaism, or protesting around the city for basic human rights.