by Chana Shloush
Bais Chana Institute, which has hosted tens of thousands of women since it first opened in 1971, invites all alumnae from the “early years” – ‘70s and early ‘80s – to attend its festive Reunion 5778. The reunion will convene in Crown Heights on Sunday, 15 Kislev, December 3, 2017, IYH. There will also be a Friday night Oneg Shabbos program on Shabbos Parshas Vayishlach, December 1.
“The women who spent life-altering weeks together during the early years at Bais Chana haven’t had a reunion since 1990 and are enthusiastic about reconnecting,” said one of the event’s organizers. “People attended Bais Chana and then scattered across the globe. Our mailing list is very incomplete. Please reach out to all your friends and contacts who might like to reunite with the group and tell them about the Reunion. Whether or not they can come on December 3, have them contact us so we can stay in touch with them about future events.”
The day’s itinerary will echo the schedule and spirit of a day at Bais Chana, including morning Tanya study with Rabbi Manis Friedman, a group trip to the Ohel, greetings from Rabbi Moshe Feller, shared meals, and an evening farbrengen with Rabbi Manis Friedman. Organizers are inviting madrichos and mashpiyos from that era. In addition, any woman who wants to reunite with friends of that age and stage, whether or not she came to Bais Chana, is welcome to join.
The stories of how young women wound up at Bais Chana in Minnesota are as varied as the people themselves. One girl saw a flier on a college bulletin board that brought her to a Pegisha in Crown Heights, and from there she flew to Lubavitch House in S. Paul and began her odyssey. More than one received a candle lighting brochure at a shopping mall or Israel Day Parade and made their way to Bais Chana. A spiritual seeker was visiting Florida and had a friendly conversation with a nice, not-so-frum Jewish grandmother. The lady (who was happy with her own son’s decision to become a Lubavitcher and thrilled with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren) advised the young woman to go to Crown Heights. She listened to that advice, went to Bais Chana, and today is a well-known Shlucha. In another case, a girl visited her podiatrist, and he suggested that she go to Bais Chana. The girl had nothing else to do for the next few weeks, so off she went. Several girls attended after their parents read an article about Bais Chana in the newspaper of a secular Jewish women’s organization. A dramatic story: the parents of a teenager on the verge of converting to a gentile religion sent her to Bais Chana in a last-ditch effort to stop her; after a short time there, she became committed to Judaism and abandoned the conversion idea.
The “early years” alumnae have already started reminiscing by posting old photos and comments on a lively whatsapp group:
“How nice to ‘rediscover’ everyone!”
“We were treated so wonderfully at Bais Chana. I remember they even took us on a boat trip, and bowling, so we could have a little break from the intense learning.”
“We also had amazing teachers, leaders and mentors. And the ‘little people’ – the children – were our teachers, too!”
“OMG, is that a picture of N.S. dressed up as Rabbi Friedman for a Bais Chana play?”
To register for the Reunion, to join the mailing list, and for more information, please go to https://baischana.org/reunion.