The Energy in the Room

Written by Carrie Bornstein

In less than one week, 500 people will gather to honor Rabbi Leslie Gordon and Patti and Louis Grossman.  We will enjoy food and wine from around the world, hear Women of the World’s lively music, view Anita Diamant and Janet Buchwald’s newest theatrical performance, plus other surprises.

I can already feel the energy in the room – the same energy I’ve felt at every other Mayyim Hayyim event.  There always comes a moment when I look behind me, scan the room, and think, “My Lord.  What is happening here?  All these people have come together for the sake of a mikveh??”

Inevitably, my next thought has to do with how few people we have on staff.  I wonder how any of it could be possible.  And then I realize, it’s not.  There’s no way a staff of seven and one intern could pull off this event.  (Granted, it’s a darn hardworking and talented bunch.)  It’s only possible because, just like with every other aspect of Mayyim Hayyim, we’re engaging the community to make it happen.  Our committed co-chairs, host committee, volunteer Mikveh Guides, board members, and others are partnering with our professional team to make it happen (even our honorees can’t resist rolling up their sleeves).

It feels good to engage in such a partnership.  It feels good to honor Patti and Louis and Rabbi Gordon, people who have helped Mayyim Hayyim become what it is today.  It feels good to celebrate Reform Jewish Outreach Boston and the Jewish Discovery Institute, our partners in ensuring that greater Boston is a model of welcome for anyone exploring Judaism.

And it feels very good to let you all in on what I get to experience almost every day at our mikveh in Newton: the joy of celebrating someone who has chosen to throw their lot in with the Jewish people.  On Sunday night you’ll get to hear their stories, feel their emotion, and be grateful right there with me – grateful that each one has made such a decision.

I often draw an analogy to the Mishnah from Sanhedrin: “Whoever saves one life, it is as if he saved the entire world.  Whoever destroys one life, it is as if he destroyed the entire world.”  I often think about what would have happened had even one of these people not made such a decision, or had we not been open enough to let them in.  I truly believe that we are better off, fuller, richer as a people because of each and every one.

If you do not yet have your ticket for Tapestry: Choosing a Jewish Life this Sunday, November 18 at 7pm, at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, get yours now.  I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

Carrie Bornstein is Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director.  One of her favorite experiences is having trouble maintaining a phone conversation because the singing and clapping to welcome a new Jew is just too loud.  Follow her on twitter @carolinering.


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