The Machon Chana Family Shabbaton took place this past Shabbos in Crown Heights. The Machon Chana dormitory was the venue for activities that took place throughout the weekend.
The Shabbaton began with candle lighting and a welcome by second year student Chava Moss, from London, England, who holds a degree in fine arts from Nottingham Trent University.
The delicious Friday night meal was prepared in its entirety, from challah to dessert, by the Machon Chana students. The dormitory dining room was packed with current students, alumni, family and friends. Rabbi Shloma Majeski, dean of Machon Chana and his wife Rivkie, led the meal. Throughout the meal there were divrei Torah and inspirational insights.
Rabbi Pinchus Riven spoke, as well as his wife, alumnus Rochel Chana (Schilder) Riven. Rochel Chana spoke about her journey to Torah and Chasidus and the impact Machon Chana made on her life.
Ilona Abramovich, a first year student from Staten Island, whose mother attended the Shabbaton, spoke about the questions she had growing up that her parents couldn’t answer and beginning to find those answers at Machon Chana.
Rabbi Noach Merenfeld had everyone in stitches talking about his “identity crisis” growing up as a twin and how he thought the crisis was over when his twin brother Yehoshua became religious, grew a beard and started wearing a black hat. However, he eventually became a baal teshuva himself. The two brothers then encouraged their sister Leah to attend Machon Chana. Leah Merenfeld, also a second year student (from Miami) then shared her own story of her journey to Machon Chana and what studying in the school has meant to her.
The Shabbos Seuda was followed by an informal question and answer session led by Mrs. Sara Labkowski, founder and director of Machon Chana.
Shabbos morning, mothers and daughters got together over coffee and cake at the home of Mrs. Bronya Shaffer. They were able to ask their questions and air their concerns in a more intimate setting. Shabbos lunch students and their guests ate at families in Crown Heights with whom they have become close.
After havdalah, a beautiful and tasty Melave Malka – prepared once again by the students – was held in the dorm. Highlighted at the Melave Malka were the students’ artwork, as this year’s student body is comprised of many talented artists.
Alumnus Raiza Malka Gilbert from Needham, Massachusettes (who also has a degree in fine arts!) opened the Melave Malka with recollections of her two years at Machon Chana and the impact it had on her relationship with her parents.
The guest speaker at the Melave Malka was Dr. Levi Reiter, professor of Audiology and Audiology Program Head at Hofstra University for the past 32 years. Dr. Reiter’s talk was deeply meaningful and highly entertaining.
The student body of Machon Chana this year hails from Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, South Africa, Israel, England, and of course throughout North America and even as close as right here in Manhattan and Brooklyn!
A big yashar koach to Mrs. Gita Gansburg – dorm mother, Devorah Leah Eddison-assistant, Chani Chaimson, and the devoted madrichos: Hadas Hurvitz, Chana Sahler and Chaya Mushka Shushan.