The Special Sauce of Innovation: A Decade in the Slingshot Guide

by Carrie Bornstein

It’s Slingshot release day – one of my favorites each year. Mayyim Hayyim is celebrating our inclusion in the guide once again as well as being featured in their supplement on Women and Girls. And this time around we’ve hit a special milestone: ten years in a row of being included in the guide. Yes, for those of you counting at home, that’s every year they’ve published the book and every year we’ve been open.

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This year’s guide includes a special section featuring our fellow ten-timers and focuses on the evolution of the Jewish innovation space and what it has meant for organizations’ growth. So how does Mayyim Hayyim continue to innovate over time?

Spending my entire career in the Jewish community (with a brief hiatus for a year to get a Masters in Social Work), I have thought a lot about these issues. I have learned that at its core, innovation is not some mysterious, holy grail 
to be found. Innovation is simply about paying attention to real needs, listening deeply to those with opinions, and bringing people together to make a change.

Mayyim Hayyim’s expertise is very different from other organizations featured in the guide. This is good, and it means we can all focus on what we do best. I believe that in the process, the Jewish community will be better off because of our individual successes.

Last week we launched a “Why I Need Mayyim Hayyim” campaign. The photos our fans are sending in are powerful, and I hope you’ll send yours in too. Coincidentally, the news out of Washington, DC later that day proved for anyone who may have doubted, why Mayyim Hayyim is needed now more than ever before.

So what gets us into the Slingshot guide year after year? Slingshot said, “For a guidebook on how to reanimate ritual, look no farther than Mayyim Hayyim.” We are a re-imagined and radically inclusive mikveh where education is as important as immersion, and all Jews come for healing, celebrations, life transitions, and conversions to Judaism.

And our work is very far from being done.

CBTapestryTen years from now I envision the model of a community mikveh as the norm around the country, even among the Orthodox community. I envision people with disabilities using the mikveh often, and that immersion before marriage will be as commonplace as standing under a chuppah. Over the next ten years we’ll continue refining some of our best educational programming – for new Jews, newlywed couples, and we’ll create new programming for men and boys, making all this curriculum available for other communities. We’ll create new immersion ceremonies and convene the national conversation for leadership among like-minded mikva’ot.

I hope we stay nimble, adapting to focus on what can be, rather than blindly perpetuating that which has been successful in the past. If we can do this, in our next ten years, there’s no telling how much we can achieve.

Make a gift in celebration of Mayyim Hayyim’s selection for the Slingshot Guide ten years in a row, and join the growing number of people who are helping to make our shared future possible.

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Carrie Bornstein is Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director. 

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