On 22 Kislev, December 9, The Bnos Chomesh Lubavitch Girl’s Academy held a drawing for its raffle of a silver menorah. The winner was Sara Eichler of Brooklyn.
Bnos Chomesh is a small school of 18 students from grades 10 to 12. Its staff of thirteen teaches a full range of Jewish and secular subjects as well as music, art, and nutrition, and home economics.
The school has a guidance counselor and tailors a course load to the needs of each individual student. You will not see a large class with girls falling between the cracks, because it is possible in the setting of Bnos Chomesh to see each girl as an individual.
The school’s small size and favorable student- teacher ratio makes the school an ideal place in which to address hashkafa questions, individual learning styles and personal growth.
I became aware early on in parenthood that one cannot separate questions of faith from emotional well being. Teaching a child that there is a G-d that cares about him or her as an individual is a challenge if that child feels anonymous and unrecognized.
Such feelings can develop in the hustle and bustle of home life, and they can certainly happen in school. The teachers treat both emotional well being and questions of faith in a serious and respectful manner.
When I visited the school, the address was a basement. I did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Bnos Chomesh looked like a regular school in microcosm, with three classrooms attractively sectioned off as well as an office for its principal Dena Gorkin.
The girls dress in a similar uniform to that worn in other girls’ high schools. Though the concept of the school is different, the message to parents and students is clear: At Bnos Chomesh you can expect to receive a serious education.
A measure of the school’s success is not only the academic achievements that take place there, but the renewed enthusiasm for Yiddishkeit among girls who in some instances had felt disenchanted with Torah observance.
As a parent, when I hear the song “No Jew Will Be Left Behind”, I do not only think of the future end to our collective physical exile. I also think of those who are in spiritual exile. “No Jew Will Be Left Behind” is a commitment that every Jewish parent has to his own children. It is this commitment that Bnos Chomesh helps parents to honour to their children.
The monn which fell in the desert was food for the Jews for 40 years. It had a taste and required a level of preparation that varied from one Jew to the next. The education that we give our children comes from the same Torah, but it must, like the monn in the desert, be presented in a way that it can be absorbed and accepted by each individual. For some students, a larger school can meet their needs. But an increasing percentage needs a more individualized approach. It is into this niche that Bnos Chomesh has stepped and succeeded.
Moshe Rabeinu merited to lead the Jewish people out of exile when as a shepherd he went after a single sheep that had become separated from the flock he was watching. By showing that he cared about each individual, Moshe proved his fitness to lead the entire people. This is a powerful lesson to every person who whether as a parent, a teacher or simply as a concerned community member strives to be a “faithful shepherd”.
I am very grateful for the three years that Bnos Chomesh has been a presence in my daughter’s life and that of my family. Everyone who has a child in the school makes sacrifices for their children to attend that go beyond even that faced by most parents of children in Jewish schools.
Bnos Chomesh continues to face the challenge of making ends meet. Its staff works tirelessly to accomplish the mission of Bnos Chomesh. The support of the community means a great deal to the girls in the school and to their parents.
A visit to the school website will give you a sense of what Bnos Chomesh is about as well as a means to contact its administration and staff. It also provides a way to make donations for Bnos Chomesh to carry on its important work. The next time you listen to “No Jew Will Be Left Behind” it is worthwhile to think about and support those who bring this dream to fruition. Bnos Chomesh is truly such a place.