The following is a letter written by Rabbi Peter W. Stein, Temple Sinai, Cranston RI, to Carrie Bornstein, Assistant Director at Mayyim Hayyim, about his experience bringing a terminally ill congregant to the mikveh during the final days of his life.
Thank you so much for enabling me to bring my congregant, Jonah,* to the mikveh earlier this week. As you know, Jonah has entered hospice care as his cancer continues to progress, and he has suffered terribly from pain and increased disability. Bringing him to the mikveh was an extraordinary experience for him, bringing him peace and comfort, and was also an extraordinary opportunity for me as his rabbi.
I am deeply grateful for all the kindness and sensitivity that was exhibited by you, Michael [his Mikveh Guide], and all the others who made this possible. The ability to use the aquatic lift was essential, and Jonah felt comfortable and supported throughout his immersion. I don’t think I have all the right words to say how special and important it was to offer something physical like this to nourish Jonah’s spirit during his illness. It is an entirely different kind of support than the intellectual and emotional support that is generally extended to the sick.
I feel very lucky that you and the other leaders of Mayyim Hayyim are doing such creative, beautiful and inspirational work. Under ordinary circumstances, nothing like this creative immersion and healing ritual would have been possible, and I thank you for all that you have done. It is truly an act of chesed shel emet, sacred love and kindness. As I watched and listened to Jonah during the immersion, I knew that together we created a genuinely sacred moment for him.
Thank you so very much for all that you have done, and all that you and the entire mikveh staff and volunteers continue to do. I look forward to sharing more special times together in the future.
Rabbi Peter W. Stein
*Name has been changed to protect privacy