The new student body this year at Machon L’Yahadus hails from across the USA and around the world. And they are in Crown Heights not just as “Tishrei Guests” but for the entire school year to learn and live in the Rebbe’s vibrant community!
The young women who are devoting this year to delving into their Jewish heritage hail from both far and near, including Maryland, Florida, Texas, California, New York, and Pennsylvania in the U.S., as well as Israel, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Australia and Ukraine.
One student, Malka from Mexico, is using modern technology to get the most out of the full schedule of classes that she attends from 8:30 am – 3:00 pm daily. Arriving without a working knowledge of English but eager to learn, she is using an apple in-ear translator app and a document translator app to overcome the language challenge.
Machon L’Yahadus classes started on Chai Elul. The challenge of Eastern Parkway where the school building is being difficult to traverse was overcome by holding classes at the dormitory on President Street. “Although in the past we typically start our school year on Tuesday, we wanted to give our students the opportunity to begin their study of Chassidus on the birthday of Chassidus,” explained Rabbi Shloma Majeski, principal of Machon L’Yahadus.
Even though that first day of classes was optional, more than 25 students attended and then enjoyed a festive lunch in honor of the day. The students, including alumni, also had a sumptuous Chai Elul Seuda on Monday evening.
During the first week of classes, the young women were introduced to the wonderful and welcoming Crown Heights community via a “Crown Heights Crawl” on Thursday morning. The many Shuls, restaurants, three women’s mikvoas, stores and even the Keilim Mikvah were pointed out to them. They were warmly welcomed by friendly proprietors and given mini-tours of BenZ’s, Clean Spot, Vaad Printing, and the Chai Art Gallery.
Aside from the regular classes, during this time of the year there is an emphasis on preparing the young women for the upcoming month of Tishrei and the Yomim Tovim it contains. Many of the students have never celebrated these Yomim Tovim, or if they have, not in a Chabad community or with Chabad Minhagim.
Part of the preparation includes hearing the Shofar blown every morning by Rabbi Majeski, ushering in a taste of Tishrei. Special classes are also given that explain both the basics of each Yomtov, along with their deeper dimensions as illuminated by the teachings of Chassidus.
At the “in-Shabbos” students had a chance to bond. “I asked a small group of girls who were sitting together and speaking so animatedly how long they have known each other. I was so surprised to find out that they had only met here at Machon L’Yahadus,” shared Mrs. Shterna Rodal, the dorm mother.
On Motzaei Shabbos, the students went together to 770 for Selichos, a colorful experience which for most of them was a first. They are also given a taste of what it’s like to coordinate the preparation of so much food by assisting with the cooking of the meals which take place in the dorm. The students will be eating the first Rosh Hashana meal together at the dorm with dozens of alumni who will be joining as well. The meal will be presided over by Rabbi & Mrs. Majeski.
At Machon L’Yahadus, where young Jewish women learn, live and love Judaism, the new year will be filled with many new experiences!
Machon L’Yahadus is under the auspices of NCFJE.