Machon Chana women’s institute in Crown Heights commemorated the 200th year yartzeit of the Alter Rebbe with a women’s farbrengen on Sunday evening.
The event was streamed live online, providing an opportunity for hundreds of women worldwide to participate and was part of a series of worldwide events marking Machon Chana’s 40th year anniversary.
The fabrengen provided an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from Lubavitch women who grew up in orthodox, but non-Lubavitch homes, about why they chose a different derech in their avodas Hashem.
While Chabad’s accessibility might make it an obvious choice for a college student looking to connect to their heritage, less obvious is why someone already connected to their heritage would make this choice.
Gitty Rappaport, who grew up in Boro Park in a family of Ropshetz Chassidim, explained that growing up, her experience of Judaism and her own life experience didn’t seem to align.
“I’m a girl’, ‘I’m a dancer’, ‘I’m a daughter’ and number 17 on the list was ‘I’m a Jew’. Judaism wasn’t something that I felt defined me. I could imagine myself being ‘me’ in a non-Jewish environment.”
With too many questions and not enough answers, it was Chabad chassidus that bridged the seeming gulf between reality and Torah.
“The greatest gift chassidus has given me is that I realize that being a Jew is who I am; now it is number 1 on my list. This is not something I have to get myself to believe in, this is real; this is something I connect with.”
Chana Rosa Bogart also shared how her modern orthodox upbringing provided little solace for her as a schoolgirl.
She explained what most bothered her then: “My teachers would tell me that our tefillas are for our self refinement; if we said it was for Hashem, we were limiting him.”
It was a trip to Beis Chana that dispelled this notion and introduced a concept made novel by the Alter Rebbe: Dirah B’tachtonim. It was this staple of chabad Chassidic philosophy that brought her to an understanding that her tefillas and mitzvos mattered; that Hashem wanted and needed them.
Chana Itkin, whose Bobov education could not alleviate her young cynicism that the world was a hostile and selfish place, reiterated the sentiment.
She openly confided how, as an 11th grader, she covered a copy of Tanya is black paper and blackened out the side lettering in order that no one in her family should know what she was secretly learning. Learning from the black book liberated her from her self-focused thoughts and brought her to a realization that “it’s not about me; it’s about something bigger, much bigger.”
All three women spoke openly and honestly about their struggles and dilemmas, and about how Chabad chassidus changed their approach to ahavas yisroel, mesirus nefesh, the role of Jewish women and their relationship to tzaddikim. Most striking was how each of them questioned their upbringing at very young ages and how all it took was one close friend or relative to introduce them to Chabad teachings and to change the course of their lives forever.
The fabrengen closed with Rabbi Tzvi Homnick, whose wisdom and comical anecdotes from his own life kept the large crowd seated till the end.
inspires me again and again
This was really inspiring! I grew up Lubavitch, but went to beis yaakov, but had no idea about these sort of issues for people who don’t have Chassidus! Wow!
you obviously missed the point!
the point was, what is the main focus, and what is the main thing that makes you not do it.
I would like to see the video but I tried to download it and it always only goes until 5.5 mins more or less and then tells me its buffering for over an hr. now I tried again and it tells me the video is unavailable at the moment. Is there another site I could acess the video or can someone please repost it please? Thanks.
This was a wonderful and enlightening presentation.
I agree with 13. Being Chabad doesn’t negate working on yourself though it’s done with a different approach. We don’t worry about achieving shlaimus.
Who took the video?? It looks Wonderful.
Great speakers, thanks for posting.
Thank you to Chana Rosa, Gitty and Chanie for so openly sharing your struggles journey to Chabad, Thank yo Machon Chana and Mrs Labkovsky for arranging this and thank you ToraCafeand Collive for posting!
This is fascinating to me who grew up Lubavitch, I watched almost the whole thing twice and I have learned so much and am really inspired! We need to hear more of this and especially the youth need to hear this so we can appreciate what we have!
You need to integrate both derachim–to take the good from the other streams of Yiddishkeit along to provide balance as a Chassid. Not everyone can be careful with avoiding lashan hara with the message of Ahavas Yisrael alone,there also needs to be an emphasis on the halachos of loshon hara, for example.
Chani Itkin did not go to a Bobover school. She said she went to Tomer Devorah. Tomer Devorah is affiliated with Skver Chassidus but attracts girls from various Chassidic backgrounds.
A treasure chest of ideas and powerhouse who implements them!! a proud alumna
It was truly amazing to see this video!!!!!!
Beautiful. There should be many more of this type of learning events. It brings clarity so much and helps us realize and appreciate the gift of Chabad Chassidus our Rebbe’s have given us!
Thank you Torah Café and Collive for taking a video of the event and uploading it to your websites, so all of us out of town can learn and benefit as well.
thank you so much!
Thank you for posting it online!!
A real pleasure to listen to.
its a must for every lubavitcher to watch
couldn’t stop watching!!
shaina g, and mushky z, and fruma!!
thank you so much!
I was there. I wish every parent with a questioning child would have her meet with any one of these wonderful young ladies. They were honest and amazing.