Young Jewish Leaders from London Visit Mayyim Hayyim

by Jody Comins, Development Coordinator

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While I love my job as Development and Events Coordinator here at Mayyim Hayyim, I have a side gig that I’m just as passionate about: working as an Independent Consultant for the Adam Science Young Leadership Program for LEAD which is in the UK. This program consists of young Jewish leaders from all different religious backgrounds that participate in a year-long leadership training program. Part of their program is a five day trip to Boston to learn about another diaspora community and how our Jewish community works. I’m their Madricha (Leader) while they are here in Boston and I put together a program with many of Boston’s finest professionals and lay leaders. The trip is an opportunity for conversations about pluralism, community, leadership and the role of the Jewish community in the larger context. Of course part of this trip includes a visit to Mayyim Hayyim.

The UK leaders and I pride ourselves on putting together a solid program and each year we elicit feedback from the group to try to improve the trip for the next year. One thing that we have never changed is the trip to Mayyim Hayyim. An education session about ritual and mikveh with my colleague, Lisa Berman, is like no other educational program. She debunks myths, engages each participant and goes with the flow (pardon the pun). She starts by asking everyone to say one thing that comes to mind when they think about mikveh. When my group went over time during the opening discussion, she recognized the importance of the group dynamics and let us continue our conversation.

I’m also grateful to Anita Diamant, who comes every year and shares her original vision with the group. There’s always someone in the group who is awestruck at being in the same room with Anita (I’ve gotten used to it by now).

The conversation this year was lively as usual with some who totally understood the idea of a liberal mikveh and others who had never heard of niddah (women’s monthly immersion). Given the varied backgrounds of the group, the reactions were all different. One part of the program is to read excerpts from our guest book and each person in the group takes a moment to read aloud. The voices differ and the message differs, but they are all powerful and some bring me to tears.

We went on an Observation Exercise to find examples of Mayyim Hayyim’s principles brought to life through the intentional design of our facility. The group found everything you would need in each of our four prep rooms to get ready to prepare- toothbrush, makeup remover, razor etc. They noticed that privacy was a premium and Lisa explained that we are intentional about scheduling so if one guest is coming to immerse for a healing and another for celebration, we don’t schedule them at the same time.

We finished back in the Education center where Lisa makes sure that all the things we thought about mikveh initially had been clarified and closed with questions and answers. Of course, we went over our time because she’s so engaging.

Coming to visit Mayyim Hayyim as part of a group and sharing the wonderful place where I work was one of my highlights of last week’s program. I feel blessed to be part of such a wonderful Boston Jewish community and to be able to share it with my new young colleagues from across the pond. (Couldn’t help myself that time!)

Jody Comins is the Development and Events Coordinator at Mayyim Hayyim and had a fantastic week recently living in Brookline and running the Adam Science Leadership Program in Boston.

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