Machon Chana Alumnae from around the world gathered in Crown Heights to celebrate the Jubilee 50th year with a 5-day celebration. It kicked off with a gala dinner.
On Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Machon Chana Alumnae from around the world gathered in Crown Heights to celebrate the Jubilee 50 Hakhel Reunion Conference.
The 4-day celebration highlighted 50 years of accomplishments of Machon Chana, the first full-time Chabad Yeshiva for Jewish women from all backgrounds in search of Torah true education. The opening gala banquet was held in the Ulam Chana simcha hall of Machon Chana.
The decor, set up, and catering was all done by current Machon Chana students who come from all over the world. Languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian, and Hebrew were all heard in one room.
The banquet was chaired by Mrs. Chaya Rochel Zimmerman from Chicago and Mrs. Rivka Holzman, the principal of Michlelet Chana, read the Rebbe’s kapital. The evening began with a video presentation: 50 years of Rebbitzen Chana’s legacy, for whom the school is named.
Over the decades Machon Chana has developed innovative programs to meet the needs of women who strive for a higher way of life based on Torah and Chassidus. Among the programs are Yeshivacation, short-term in-depth learning, the summer yeshiva in a country setting, the Teacher Training program for current and future teachers, the Lift program and Ohr Chana for teens, Project Identity for South American girls, and Michlelet Chana Vocational and Teachers seminary for post-seminary girls, the Dual Degree program where Torah courses are credited towards a Degree and the ILearn courses of higher Torah learning for Jewish women of all backgrounds.
First-hand accounts of how Machon Chana changed lives were presented. Hinda Langer, one of the first students of Machon Chana, shared her memories of the early beginnings of Machon Chana and her experience of coming to learn in the early 1970s. She passionately related how classes in Tanach and Historia, taught by dedicated teachers changed her life. In 1975 Mrs. Langer and her husband received a bracha from the Rebbe to go on Shlichus to San Francisco, California, where they have been for the last 47 years. She noted that their Chabad house was the first to have a public menorah lighting.
Two students currently studying at Machon Chana shared their inspiring journeys to Machon Chana; Tanya Brito from Dominican Republic and Chava Krebs from Yekaterinburg in Russia. The ripple effect of Machon Chana was shared by Devora Klein of Pittsburgh. She gave thanks to her mentor and campus shlucha Sarah Weinstein, for guiding her to study at Machon Chana. Mrs. Sarah Weinstein herself is a former student of Machon Chana and received her foundation in Yiddishkeit from Machon Chana.
There was a standing ovation tribute to Mrs. Sara Katzman, Mrs. Riva Teleshevsky, and Mrs. Chanie Chaimson for their 40 years of dedication.
Mrs. Sara Labkowski was presented with a beautiful crystal plaque engraved with words of thanks from the Machon Chana alumnae for changing the world through her tireless work on behalf of Machon Chana.
Mrs. Sara Labkowski spoke about the Rebbe’s involvement and guidance with Machon Chana from its inception in 1973. She related many directives of the Rebbe which showed his sensitivity to the needs of the girls, who had come to study in Crown Heights. The Rebbe understood that the girls needed mirrors and radios in their rooms and instructed the directors to purchase them. She related how the Rebbe called the students of Machon Chana “meine techter” and was concerned that the girls were given the best in gashmius as well as ruchnius. The Rebbe instructed that the girls have silver bechers and the nicest cutlery for the Pesach seder. On his way to visit Machon Chana on the night of Pesach, the Rebbe remarked “Now I am going home”. She said “I thank der Aibershter for the big zechus to allow me to actualize my dream and thank the Rebbe for believing in me and entrusting his mother’s legacy in my hands.”
The evening ended with “neiros l’hair”: Video Interviews with two campus shluchos who received their education and inspiration at Machon Chana and the influence it had on them to continue to light up the world.
The celebration continued on Thursday with a Pesach expo featuring a day of Learning- A Pesach Prep- Including Halacha, Chassidus, Haggadah, cooking demonstrations, and a questions and answer session.
Friday was a full day of submersion in kedusha – a trip to the Ohel, the Rebbe’s room, the Rebbe’s home and a tour of WLCC. Shabbos included a kiddush seudah, Farbrengen, an enlightening shiur on bitachon with Rabbi Levke Kaplan and Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld followed by shalosh seudahs, and seder niggunim.
The interactive Motzei Shabbos kumzitz with music and a farbrengen created bonds of friendship between former and current Machon Chana students.
In the words of a participant of the Machon Chana Hakhel conference: “From the banquet to the melava malka, I felt so connected and inspired by the women attending, the speakers, and the entire community. A wonderful reminder and rekindled feelings were brought into the present with this awesome 50th anniversary. Thank you Mrs. Labkowski for your everlasting dedication to the spirit of Yiddishkeit. This chosen path has been so enlightening & worthwhile. May you have continued success.”