Preparing for my interview at Mayyim Hayyim was incredibly nerve-wracking! As much as I read about it online, I was still so far from understanding the real definition of a community mikveh. Would I be greeted by Orthodox women? What’s appropriate to wear? I was afraid to show any skin so I found a skirt that would cover my knees and I wore long sleeves even though it was too warm for them. When I arrived at Mayyim Hayyim, I was so surprised to see how beautiful the facilities are from when you walk through the gate into the garden, to the mikveh itself, and all the way to the office space upstairs. I was entranced by this spa that they call a mikveh, but what really made me take my first relaxing breath was seeing that the staff were wearing pants! If I got the internship, I was glad that getting dressed would be less of a worry in the morning.
When Leah Hart Tennen, Mikveh Center Director, started talking about the initiatives of Mayyim Hayyim, I started to understand. She described how Mayyim Hayyim creates different ceremonies to go along with the immersions and how they tweak the wording so that the prayers are welcoming to everyone. She talked about how she was currently working on making the mikveh more accessible and welcoming to those who identify as transgender, whether it be through the wording of the ceremonies to the training of mikveh guides, the goal is to make everyone feel completely comfortable and to make sure their mikveh time is their time. This sounded beyond perfect to me. I could not wait to be part of something so inclusive, beautiful, and welcoming within the Jewish community.
I was so eager to learn more about Mayyim Hayyim and the lives that walked through its doors, I completely tore through this blog’s archives. If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend it. The stories in here are so inspiring and beautiful. It’s amazing what Mayyim Hayyim has been a part of; from helping with healing to the celebration of discovering Judaism. Reading these individual stories helped me begin to understand what it really means to be a community mikveh. It doesn’t matter what you look like, what you’re wearing, or who you are when you come through the door, whether you’re wearing a long skirt or are just curious about what it means to be Jewish. Mayyim Hayyim is here with their arms open, ready to offer you tea and a chance to connect with yourself and the Jewish people. Because when you’re looking for answers, the least of your worries should be what you’re wearing.Rachel CaraDonna is Mayyim Hayyim’s Communications and Social Media Intern as of this past month. She will be going into her third year at Brandeis University as an Economics major with minors in Business and Art History.