Jewish Community, Niddah

by Shira Cohen-Goldberg

Today I did something hard. No, it wasn’t homeschooling two children while keeping a toddler out of danger and trying to work my day job. That was today, yesterday, the day before that, and will likely be tomorrow, the day after that, and the day after that. While nothing during this pandemic has been easy, we get used to things. There is some semblance of a routine.

When Mayyim Hayyim closed its doors for immersions seven weeks ago, my monthly routine was canceled. I have been married almost 10 years, and while many months during that time have been spent with babies in my uterus and with no visible monthly cycle, every single month that I bled has been followed by an immersion at Mayyim Hayyim.

What was there to do now? Immersion is a full body experience. Zooming it in was not an option.

You can all relate. We are in a new normal that none of us wanted. But often the hard thing is also the right thing. I understand why Mayyim Hayyim closed, but that made it more complicated for me.

During the last six weeks, I have been thinking about how to mark the end of my cycle in a way that I felt comfortable with. I consulted rabbis, polled my friends, joined webinars, and read halachic pieces. I also raged at how my life has changed, and how unfair it all feels. I missed a cycle thinking about it.

And gradually the weather has warmed, and while getting used to life as I know it, something inside me softened.

I can do hard things.

The recent Mikveh To Go: Designing an In-Home or Outdoor Immersion Experience webinar presented by the Rising Tide Open Waters Mikveh Network clinched it for me.

I found a local pond. I put a time on the calendar. I unearthed my bathing suit. I enlisted my husband to take over fully for two hours during dinner and bedtime, which is no small feat in my house. I breathed through my fears. And I went for it.

Jumping into a pond in late spring doesn’t sound hard to some of you. Maybe you love natural water. Maybe you find it invigorating and refreshing. I did not love the idea. I do not like slippery stones under foot or pond residue on my body.

I did not go in as deep as I had planned. I did not stay in the water, and bask in the knowledge that my body was new to the world again, my soul newly purified. I did not dunk three times, as is my tradition, only two. But I came out to two text messages, one from my eight-year-old lamenting, “This is officially the worst night of my life,” and one from my husband saying, “You’re amazing, by the way.”

This is how life is right now. The worst. And also amazing.

I turned off my phone, and hiked around the pond. I was home before dinner.

To ensure Mayyim Hayyim continues to provide resources like the webinar that inspired Shira, please consider making a gift to help us survive the COVID-19 pandemic and thrive in the future.

Shira M. Cohen-Goldberg serves on the board at Mayyim Hayyim. She works as a literacy specialist at an educational non-profit focused on organizational change. She spends most of her time working and rearing her children Hallel, Ya’ara, and Nesya, in partnership with her husband, Ari.