When Mrs. Leah Levine was having difficulty purchasing a building for her growing school, she came across a letter from the Rebbe to a chossid in the same predicament. She followed the Rebbe’s advice and miraculously secured a big, beautiful property for Ateres Chaya Mushka.
by Anash.org writer
It’s not every day that you hear about a Satmar Chassid providing the missing link needed to boost the growth of a Crown Heights school. Yet this is the miracle that the founders and directors of Ateres Chaya Mushka school recently experienced.
8 years ago, Rabbi Meir and Mrs. Leah Levine had a vision: to create a school in Crown Heights that would provide a chassidishe education in a warm and nurturing environment, based on the Rebbe’s guiding principles.
“The Rebbe had a clear order of how a chassidishe chinuch should be conducted,” Mrs. Levine told anash.org. “First, we emphasize being a chassid – working on midos tovos and caring for another yid. Next, we instill yiras shamayim – doing mitzvos b’hidur and with simcha. Once that foundation is laid, we focus on lamdan – helping each student achieve their potential in learning.
“We provide lemudai chol, but this, too, is done al taharas hakodesh. The students know that the sole purpose of them learning to read, write and do math is to apply these skills to their lives as chassidim.”
Ateres Chaya Mushka began with 3 girls in a basement. By the end of the first year, there were 12 students enrolled. The school was moved to a location that could accommodate 30 girls, and before long, all available spots were filled. They remained in that building for the next 4 years.
As the school became more established, it was clear that there was potential for significant growth – growth that could only happen in a larger space. As she pondered the predicament, Mrs. Levine opened the Igros Kodesh and was shocked to see that the letter she stumbled upon was directly related to the problem at hand.
The letter was written to Rabbi Zalman Serebryanski, who faced a dilemma: he ran a yeshiva with 20 students out of a small building. Rabbi Serebranski wanted to purchase a large, well-equipped building for the purpose of opening a high-caliber elementary school which would then attract talmidim to the yeshiva. The yeshiva’s supporters, however, were not enthusiastic about his plans, telling him that such a small mosed doesn’t need such a large, expensive building, and he should instead buy a smaller building that the yeshiva could afford.
In Kislev of 5714, Rabbi Serebryanski wrote a letter to the Rebbe, asking whether he should abandon his dream in favor of the route his board deemed financially responsible. The letter Mrs. Levine read was the Rebbe’s response to this question: Rabbi Serebryanski was instructed to go ‘L’chatchila Ariber,’ and buy the big building. The letter concluded with wonderful brochos for the growth of the school.
Encouraged by this message, the Levins began searching for a larger location. They found a big, beautiful building that would give them the space to quadruple enrollment, but purchasing it turned out to be difficult. Buying a large building means paying a high mortgage, and the banks were wary of such a steep jump in monthly payments without the financials to back it up. The onset of COVID-19 only complicated matters, and before they could come up with a plan, the building was sold to a Satmar chossid from Williamsburg. Upon buying the building, he entered into a 10-year contract with a non-Jewish school. The Levins were disappointed, but there was nothing to be done. The owner’s hands were tied – he had already signed an agreement.
“A few months later, on Chof Alef Shvat, a miracle happened,” Mrs. Levin said. “The building’s new owner informed us that his tenants had pulled out of the agreement, and the building was once again available for purchase. However, he was not prepared to offer a rent-to-own contract, and there was no other way for us to make it work.”
The next day, Rabbis Velvel Butman and Yeshaya Elazar Cohen, two shluchim who serve on the school’s board, went to meet with the owner. During this meeting, they told him about the Rebbe’s letter to Rabbi Serebryanski, and shared how Mrs. Levine had come across at exactly the right time. He was inspired by the message of L’chatchila Ariber, and decided to go ahead with the rent-to-own contract they had requested. 2 weeks later, on Zayin Adar I, Ateres Chaya Mushka moved into their beautiful new building.
Of course, now the real work begins; the school needs to raise a large amount of money, and with space for 120 students, the Levines are determined to make Ateres Chaya Mushka’s excellent chinuch available to many more girls in the community.
“The message of L’chatchila Ariber is close to my heart,” Mrs. Levin said. “My son Ephraim Shmuel was born on this day; today is his third birthday. As a mechaneches, I believe we must go above and beyond all limits to make sure that we provide the best of everything for our students, b’ruchnius and b’gashmiyus.”
Today, on Bais Iyar, the Levines are sharing the story of their miracle building. Baruch Hashem, they are now able to realize their dream of growing the school. Registration is open, and all girls between the ages of preschool and 8th grade are invited to enroll at Ateres Chaya Mushka, where they will receive chinuch al taharas hakodesh in a chassidishe and nurturing environment.
Ateres Chaya Mushka is now located at 432 East 92nd street in East Flatbush-Remsen Village. For registration and more information contact Leah Levine at 347-470-5711 or [email protected].
To donate to Ateres Chaya Mushka and make miracles happen, click here.