Your body moves you through the seasons, like a ferry taking its passengers from one shore to another: Interview with Naomi Malka
Hey y’all, meet Naomi Malka! She is the director of the Adas Israel Community Mikvah in Washington, DC. She trained as a Mikvah Guide at Mayyim Hayyim in Newton, MA and is currently a core partner of their Rising Tide New Mikvah Network. She earned a masters in Jewish Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2000 and a BA in Sociology from UCLA in 1991.
Naomi is also the founder of Tevila b’Teva: immersion in nature, a program that introduces outdoor immersion to Jewish summer camps. Naomi created a program called “Bodies of Water,” to introduce Mikvah as a tool for positive body image and healthy decision making from a Jewish perspective.
If you’ve never heard of the Jewish tradition of mikvah before, it’s a pool used for Jewish ritual immersion. Mayyim Hayyim has tons of information and resources if you want to check them out.
Naomi wrote a great piece on the Mayyim Hayyim blog entitled Harvesting The Power of Mikveh where she said, “The message of the mikveh is this: Your body is holy. Your body will go through cycles, it will age and become different than it once was, it will serve you and it will fail you at different times. But whether your body is thick or thin, light or dark, married to another body or sleeps alone, gay or straight or female or male or something in between, your body is the vehicle through which you create good in this world. Your body moves you through the seasons like a ferry taking its passengers from one shore to another. The mikveh is a place to experience the holiness of this journey.”
This quote really captures Naomi’s wisdom and presence that first struck me when we met a few months ago, at the Mikveh Network Gathering in Atlanta. She has applied her understanding of natural cycles and the importance of ritual in marking Jewish time to her work at Adas Israel, becoming a trailblazer in the mikveh field.
In the same Mayyim Hayyim post Naomi says, “There is so much sechel, or wisdom, in the Jewish calendar. I love that our year ends with the conclusion of summer and the entry of fall.”
When we asked Naomi about her personal connection to the Hebrew cycles, she shared with us the rituals she engages with that help her mark time and connect her to natural cycles. She said, “Judaism is my religion and Jews are my tribe. Jewish rituals are a set of rhythms that I live by. I’ve got my dailies, like saying Modah Ani first thing in the morning to express gratitude for a new day; my weeklies, like lighting Shabbat candles; my monthlies, like immersing in the Mikvah; and my yearlies, like Rosh Hashanah (my favorite holiday). These cycles are connected to the sun, the moon, my body, and the ancient Israelite calendar. They mark time for me in ways that are simultaneously beyond my control and intimately a part of me.”
For Naomi, it’s not just that the Hebrew calendar tells her when to do these rituals; these rituals mark time, bring meaning to the passage of time, and help her embody Jewish cycles. Naomi, like many of us, believes that physical experiences connect us to our roots, our ancestors, and our ability to access deep wisdom within ourselves.
When Naomi and I met in Atlanta at the Mikveh network gathering, I was so excited at her positive response to The Jewish Planner. She totally got how a physical planner connects users to their bodies and the physical world, and how the design helps people embody natural cycles in their daily lives.
There was one thing she wasn’t happy about though… and she’s not alone: we sold out before she could get one last year!!
Sorry, Naomi! We are going to try our best to order enough this time, but there are no guarantees. The best way to ensure you get a copy of The Jewish Planner is to back the Kickstarter because once orders are happening on the website, they’re going to go fast.
If you want to find out more about Naomi or you’re interested in immersing in the DC area, go immerse at Adas Israel.