Life = Change
Once upon a time, in 2001, five women signed legal papers petitioning the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to incorporate an independent non-profit entity to be called Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center. The signatories were Dr. Paula Brody, Roz Garber, Judy Green, Rabbi Barbara Penzner and me. The papers required us to name organizational officers and all of a sudden I was a “president” and board chair.
I also didn’t know that being president would require me to attend so many meetings. I had never served on a board and declined several invitations by explaining, “I lack the meeting gene.” I considered myself congenitally unable to plan, discuss, hash out, mull, and deliberate. I wanted to pinch people who talked too much, even if I agreed with what they were saying. I wanted to shout at the chair, even if she was my best friend, if she didn’t finish on time. Most of all, I did not like the person I became in meetings, which is why I always said no.
For the past eleven years, I have run a lot of meetings. I no longer want to pinch anyone even if I disagree. I have become a better listener and a better person as a result of doing something I thought I hated. Along the way, I’ve learned so much from so many people, first among them Aliza Kline, founding executive director.
I will continue to attend board meetings, but I won’t be sitting at the head of the table anymore, calling people to order. Nor will I be as involved in the mikveh’s day-to-day, which is in the extraordinarily capable hands of our professional staff. (The best of the best.)
While I’m not leaving, I will definitely be moving over and making way for incoming president and board chair, Jennifer Slifka Vidal, a board member since 2007 who loves Mayyim Hayyim as much as I do. We will become a better and stronger organization because of her abilities, ideas, vision and leadership. She and executive director Carrie Bornstein already have a great working relationship and I know that the entire board, all our volunteers and staff will do everything we can to help her take Mayyim Hayyim from strength to strength.