by Lisa Berman, Mikveh and Education Director
Mayyim Hayyim’s Mikveh Guides are the face of our organization. They are solely responsible for the in-person experience of those who come to immerse. Entrusted with this sacred task, they rise to the occasion each day, shepherding guests through their visits beautifully. Each one is a volunteer — choosing to give of their time to Mayyim Hayyim and our guests.
My role supporting our volunteer Guides is paramount, and takes many forms. Some of the support is on-site: custom sticky notes with key reminders, binders with lots of “how-to’s,” take home copies of helpful literature, and, most important, chocolate treats in the “secret” bin. Other help comes in weekly emails from me, where I share tips and lists of guiding opportunities to shortcut the process of finding a time when a Guide is needed.
Continuing Education for Guides is offered several times a year; recent topics have included “Guiding Sensitively for LGBTQ Guests,” “Sharing Successes and Challenges with your Fellow New Guides,” and our Annual Guide Appreciation Evening.
At this year’s Appreciation event, seated in the cozy living room of Mayyim Hayyim’s Founder, Anita Diamant, and her husband, Jim Ball, a bevy of Guides shared times when they felt as if they were at their best — when they really made a difference by their presence as a Guide. Here are a few snapshots:
“I was guiding for a family with two young boys who were converting and I guess I helped them have a really good experience, because after they finished, their mom decided she wanted to convert right then, too! It was something she’d been working towards, but she was so moved by her sons’ rituals, she asked the beit din (a “court” of three knowledgeable Jews, typically clergy, who facilitate the conversion process) to reconvene at that moment so she could immerse and join the Jewish people along with her boys that afternoon.”
“Whenever the person who was here converting insists that I be in the group picture with their family and clergy, I think, ‘I guess that went well!’”
“One night, a guest came to Mayyim Hayyim for the first time; she had a lot of questions. I was glad Lisa let me know ahead of time to expect this. I talked to the guest for a long time, showed her around, shared some resources, and let her know I was there for her. I got home very late that evening, but I knew I had done everything I could to make her feel comfortable, welcome, and supported.”
We are so very proud of our Mikveh Guides. Listening to them recount their “finest moments” was a kvell-worthy evening for all.
To learn I more about the role of a Mikveh Guide at Mayyim Hayyim: https://www.mayyimhayyim.org/get-involved/volunteer-opportunities/.
Lisa Berman is the Mikveh and Education Director at Mayyim Hayyim.