by Laura Conrad Mandel
Between baby showers and wedding showers, adoptions and graduations, I find myself constantly in need of gifts for friends and family who tend to have just about all the stuff they need, and for whom I know that something off a registry doesn’t typically feel meaningful enough. Recently, when I had the touching opportunity to celebrate with a close friend as her baby daughter’s adoption was finalized, I thought long and hard about the right way to mark this occasion. My usual go-to of making a gift (or scouring Etsy for something personal and handmade) just wasn’t hitting the mark.
I was then inspired by a celebration the month before at Mayyim Hayyim. I joined my dear, “oldest friend” for an immersion the week before her wedding, a very special life moment. This sentimental and unique experience reminded me that life is really about the things we experience with others. A trip to the mikveh is a beautiful, culturally, and spiritually significant Jewish way to mark any important occasion – meaningful to both the person immersing and to those who are close enough to be involved in such a personal and profound moment.
To me, gifts shouldn’t just be something you spend a lot of money on. Gifts are opportunities to enhance life for your friends and family, experiences that remind us of what matters in this world and why we exist.
Inspired by this bridal immersion, I immediately went to the Mayyim Hayyimn website and purchased an immersion gift certificate for a friend who had adopted a baby, and then a week later, I got two more for close friends who are getting married in the coming months. My next gifts are already in mind after having seen the impact this experience has had on these friends.
So while I know that a friend getting married would love a Le Creuset Dutch oven, I also know that she’ll never forget the pre-wedding experience of an immersion that made her pause to think and appreciate the beauty that lies beneath the big moments ahead.
(And it never hurts that this is a gift that truly keeps on giving, as the cost goes back into running the organization to enhance the whole community.)
Laura is a public art appreciator, obsessive maker, and social entrepreneur who developed a love of Jewish culture across years of Jewish day school and trips to Israel. Following her passion, Laura is Executive Director of the Jewish Arts Collaborative, a new organization in Boston that is committed to bringing the best of Jewish culture and arts to the Boston area. Mandel graduated Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Art and English, and her non-profit management experience includes working at Hillel, Hadassah, and the New Center for Arts and Culture.