I spent this past year in Seminary Alef of Beis Rivka. My decision to stay in New York was not easy but in the end it was the best decision I have ever made. I have never had such a good experience in a school setting, ever.
I went to Bais Rivkah High School and I was nervous that I would feel like it was just another year of high school but it was a totally new atmosphere.
The Seminary was small and every teacher was personally interested in our growth. The atmosphere was very warm and chilled! No one was judgmental and the hanhala did a very good job at making me feel comfortable to suggest or express my feelings about different things. The learning was purely up to me, I wasn’t forced to be in classes although there were perks. We were treated like adults and were allowed to make our own choices and that was a real breathe of fresh air. I felt like subjects I learned in high school were brought about in a whole new light and I soaked everything up like a sponge in water.
I enjoyed making my own decisions pertaining to my learning and through that it made me want to succeed more. Naturally, being in Crown Heights we were offered the best teachers and the guest speakers were always top notch. I really enjoyed how each subject that we learned was relevant to our upcoming lives whether being on the topic of being mother or shluchos and being able to discuss our views on yidishkeit as a Lubavitcher. Many of our classes were discussion based so we were able to hear other’s views on topics and give over our opinions. We also had night classes which I loved, I never felt like it was a drag to go out at night to make class because the classes were so interesting and I gained so much from them.
Something that I feel was a big pro was that although school was a full day program I still felt like I could get things done throughout the day. It was a bridge between still being in the security of being taught in a school and not having to fend for myself yet still being on my own because I was learning how to live on my own and figuring out my own choices. In high school I was never a high achiever but I feel that by being in a classes that made me think and nothing was spoon fed to me I really wanted to prove to myself that I could be serious about my achievements.
I was also very impressed with the Teacher Training Program. Every week we had multiple classes on either psychology or effective ways of teaching children in a school setting or as a tutor. Being a teacher now I am introducing many of the teaching tips in my own classroom and the ideas that I learned are actually becoming useful and helping me run an organized and smooth classroom.
I loved the Shabbatons! The best farbregners were brought down and the whole Shabbos was full of nonstop inspiration. Although ruchnious is very important they also focused making the shabbatons as enjoyable as possible. Most shabbatons took place in hotels and the scene of 40-80 Lubavitch girls together was such a Kiddush Hashem. It’s such a special feeling to know that you represent something and someone. I remember one of the few times we stayed in a Chabad House we joined the community for Kiddush and one of the women stood up to speak and to the whole room she said that we looked like princesses. It was a real wake up call, I was reminded that to the world we are special and our job was to prove them right.
For out of towners coming to Crown Heights for the year is extraordinary because everything is revolved around farbrangens in people’s homes and being in 770 which is different and inspiring. Being in Crown Heights in general is a big strong point to the Seminary because I was literally in the middle of everything going on. Every Chassidishe Yomtov could be felt in the air and awesome moments like when the whole Crown Heights gathered together in 770 on Gimmel Tamuz or by the Lag Baomer Parade. There is just a feeling of unity that cannot be experienced through videos or pictures. It is very hard to connect in these days yet I really felt like I was with The Rebbe throughout the whole journey.
I can’t thank Beis Rivka Seminary enough for how much I gained throughout the whole year. I remember telling seniors in high school that they should forget about going out of the country because there was a program right under their noses and the should take advantage of the opportunity. I owe so much to my teachers in seminary that made the learning an experience that I will never forget!