by Anita Diamant, Founding President
Mayyim Hayyim is a mikveh where the ancient ritual of immersion is open for use by everybody in the Jewish community, and where all of us—including friends, family and guests of all backgrounds—are welcome to explore and learn about Jewish life.
Visitors are often surprised to find that there’s a gallery, especially since it features work by artists of all faith traditions and is not limited to Jewish content.
So why IS there an art gallery at greater Boston’s community mikveh?
Because art makes it even more beautiful. While it is perfectly kosher to use a paper cup to make Kiddush (the blessing over wine), raising a beautiful goblet elevates the experience and fulfills the rabbinic mandate of Hiddur Mitzvah, the teaching that Jewish life should be beautiful. The Gallery @ Mayyim Hayyim exists to create Jewish experiences that delight the eye and lift the spirit.
Because art raises questions. The Gallery @ Mayyim Hayyim serves as a classroom where students of all ages come to learn about mikveh, Jewish texts, and rituals. The art on display has led to questions and conversation about everything from climate change to Hebrew calligraphy to Jewish history, in media ranging from painting to sculpture to cartoon art, from abstraction to photo-realism to quilts.
Because art keeps us alive to the miracle of creation. Every exhibit transforms the building. Although most art is shown in the Paula Brody & Family Education Center, you’ll also see works in the reception area and even in the preparation suites. This constant visual renewal of the space keeps everyone—staff, volunteers, and visitors—alert to the beauty of the present moment.
Because art opens doors. For every new exhibit we host an opening reception that attracts people who have never stepped foot inside Mayyim Hayyim. Many come because they’re friends or fans of the artists’ work and are surprised to find themselves in a mikveh; but after a tour, most say how moved they were by the mission and sense of peace.
Because art convenes the Jewish community. Mayyim Hayyim is an unhyphenated Jewish space that welcomes everyone in the community, from scholars and synagogue leaders to unaffiliateds and the Jewish-adjacent. The Gallery @ Mayyim Hayyim creates opportunities for people who might never otherwise meet—not just to rub shoulders but also to share enjoyable, thought-provoking experiences.
This past fall, we began a new partnership with the Jewish Arts Collaborative (JArts), a relationship that has brought new people, new artists and new ideas to The Gallery @ Mayyim Hayyim. Our collaboration has already expanded the gallery’s audience, while giving JArts room to expand its offerings in the visual arts.
Our current exhibit is Texture and Line, Works by Carol Baum and Adrienne Shishko, which runs through May 1st.
We hope to see you at the opening reception on Sunday, February 10, 3-5pm. Please let us know you’re planning to attend.
Anita Diamant is the Founding President of Mayyim Hayyim.