Update: To watch a live stream of the end of shiva event, click here.
A gathering for women to mark the end of shiva for Mrs. Gita Gansburg, beloved dorm mother to thousands of Machon Chana students over the past 38 years, has been arranged.
Alumnae, dorm counselors, family and friends are all invited to attend. Mrs. Gansburg’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are in town will be in attendance.
The gathering will take place Thursday evening, 9 pm, at the Machon Chana dormitory, 1367 President Street, Mrs. Gansburg’s home for all the years that she “raised” the Rebbe’s daughters.
The gathering is being organized in accordance with the Rebbe’s horaah before Marriv at the end of the shiva for Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. The Rebbe gave the gabbaim of 770 money and said to them: “You should make a gathering for the elevation of her neshama, it should be beautiful and attended by many people (birov p’er v’hadar, u’birov am hadras melech’), and anyone who increases is praiseworthy, and soon literally we will merit, ‘those who lie in dust will arise and sing.’”
The gathering took place in the home of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin.
A global conference call Tuesday evening during the shiva had nearly 250 Machon Chana alumnae, dorm counselors, family and friends from around the world joining together.
After words of inspiration and consolation from Rabbi Shloma Majeski, participants shared memories of and lessons from Mrs. Gansburg for nearly four hours. The conference call, which began at 8:30 pm, ended close to 1 am. Callers hailed from Australia, Israel, Brazil, Thailand, Toronto, Montreal, Argentina, and throughout the United States.
The love for Mrs. Gansburg that emanated from all those who spoke on the conference call was palpable. Story after story illustrated Mrs. Gansburg’s incredible skills as a mechaneches, how she made every student feel special and unique, the fact that she kept in touch with the alumnae even decades after they had left the school, her uncanny ability to pair up students as roommates who became lifelong friends, her delightful sense of humor.
But most of all, it was the fact that Mrs. Gansburg truly related to each and girl as she would her own daughter. One alumnus recalled that when she blessed Mrs. Gansburg on her birthday with much Chasidishe nachas from her children and grandchildren, Mrs. Gansburg responded, “That depends on you!” The girl was surprised. “How so?” she asked. Mrs. Gansburg told her, “You are my daughter, so it’s up to you if you will give me Chasidishe nachas.”
Another alumnus explained that she never fit into any kind of “mold,” but Mrs. Gansburg always gave her space, respect her and loved her. She would climb the tree in the front of the dorm and hang out there and Mrs. Gansburg, seeing her, would just smile.
Comments on a whatsapp group for alumnae, started with the title “Refua Shleima” and now renamed “We miss you, your daughters” had messages flying throughout the conference call and, in fact throughout the entire shiva.
Alumnus Shira Gold shared, “When my mother had a stroke, Mrs. Gansburg came to give me a hug when I came back to the dorm. I just remembered thinking how my life would never be the same but Mrs. Gansburg just gave me a hug for long time. I learned chizuk does not only come via words.”
Dorm counselor Hadas Hurvitz wrote: Mrs. Gansburg was very careful about lighting Shabbos candles on time. And seder bichlal. She davened at 11 am almost every day and wasn’t finished until she finished Chitas. Hiddur mitzvah in general was her specialty. She wasn’t scared of what people would say to her or think about her. She would tell you what she thought you needed to hear even if she thought you wouldn’t like it.
In response, Sarah Acoca wrote: “That is so true ☺. That’s what I loved most about her. She could see the real you beneath all the layers and all she wanted was to bring it to the surface.”
On the conference call, participants were reminded to please send any photos, or memories to [email protected] It was also announced in the name of Mrs. Nechama Chanin that Mrs. Gansburg had a dream to have all Machon Chana students write up the stories of their journey to Machon Chana and to publish a book.
Mrs. Gansburg’s children are asking all alumnae to undertake doing this. All stories should be emailed to [email protected] A recording of the global conference will be available in the near future.