Ten years since its founding, the BMC (Beis Moishe Chaim) Teachers’ College in the Laurentian town of Ste. Agathe (in Quebec, Canada) has good cause to celebrate its milestone anniversary.
On May 26, the Orthodox all-girls seminary founded by Chana Carlebach, wife of the town’s House of Israel Rabbi Emanuel Carlebach, will stage its annual fundraising gala.
“It will be a very special event,” the rebbetzin said.
Perhaps most significantly, the evening will underscore the continued evolution of the chassidic seminary, located on S. Vincent St. in Ste. Agathe, a town of 10,000 people that has seen several antisemitic incidents occur over recent years.
The seminary, named after the Carlebachs’ son, Moishe Chaim, who died from sudden infant death syndrome in 2000 at only three months old, is often praised as an exemplar of coexistence with the townspeople.
According to Rabbi Yitzchok Ezagui, the seminary has a cultural centre division with a “building bridges” program designed to “foster understanding” between Jews and non-Jews.
BMC, which has undergone a major expansion in recent years, also issues a weekly newsletter for townspeople to keep them apprised of its good works and of its religious sensibility and ethos.
Three years ago, as part of an effort to improve relations in the wake of some local antisemitic incidents, the entire town was invited to a chassidic wedding, and 200 attended – including the mayor.
One of the most noteworthy developments, Rabbi Ezagui told The CJN in an e-mail, is that BMC will for the first time this summer be operating a day camp “for Ste. Agathe and surrounding communities.”
The BMC seminary accommodates as many as three dozen teenaged girls from around the world – including France, Israel, Canada, the United States and other countries – for its “leadership-based,” two-year Hebrew-training and teacher-training program that runs from just after the High Holidays to June. The BMC dorm is situated in the century-old “Rockfield” mansion once owned by the Labatt beer family and is perched on a hilltop with a magnificent view of the countryside.
According to its website, seminarybmc.org, BMC’s teacher training incorporates modern teaching methodologies and essential rabbinic principles of chinuch, defined as how the tenets, principles and religious laws of Judaism are transmitted from one generation to the next.
BMC also puts a special emphasis on, “educating the teachers and leaders of today and tomorrow,” and is affiliated with CEGEP Marie-Victorin in Montreal, where Chana Carlebach initially developed the program.
The program is described as “hands-on,” with the girls becoming “empowered” to be strong Jewish women as well as an integral part of the Jewish and local community as they take on a rigorous program of Jewish studies to fulfil their “spiritual, emotional and practical” development.
Part of this includes transmitting the importance of Torah to others within the Jewish community, such as the weekly delivery of dozens of challahs to both Jews and non-Jews.
BMC girls are also active volunteers, visiting with community members in their homes to assist in spiritual needs. Every year, they also run a very popular Chanukah party at Rabbi Carlebach’s shul and periodically deliver divrei Torah on Shabbat.
More information on the BMC Teachers’ College is available by calling 819-321-1111.