Like Jews around the world, the focus of the Machon L’Yahadus students these past weeks has been the holiday of Passover. Starting erev Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the full-time, full-day women’s yeshiva in the heart of Crown Heights “turned over” their regular class schedule to Pesach.
Three morning classes on the laws of Pesach, the Hagaddah and Chassidic Insights into the Holiday were taught on two levels – beginners and advanced. Classes were taught by Rabbi Shloma Majeski (principal), Rabbi Yitzchok Dubov, Rabbi Y.Y. Greenberg, Rabbi Yaakov Osdoba and Mrs. Yehudis Cohen. The special Pesach classes had been preceded the week before by a trip to the Crown Heights Matza Bakery.
The dorm became the classroom in the afternoons, where “hands on” Pesach learning under the supervision of Mrs. Chana Nemni, dorm mother, took place. Each of the 25 students was assigned tasks from a list of jobs that needed to be completed in order to get the dorm ready for Pesach, as well as being required to prepare her own bedroom.
Jobs included responsibilities that are typical in any Jewish home such as cleaning and covering the refrigerators and freezers, scouring the countertops before kashering, scrubbing the tables and folding chairs, vacuuming the sofas, etc.
Once the dorm was ready to be kashered, the students watched the process of kashering the stainless steel counters and sinks in the “meat” kitchen and the stove top. Then the real fun began! Imagine 25 girls sitting together, music playing and the more comedic students joking non-stop as they cracked 50 pounds of nuts… peeled 100 pounds of potatoes (for starters)… juiced 2 cases of oranges and one case of lemons!
Finally it was time for master-chef Mrs. Smadar Benchayoun to teach the girls how to make Pesach basics like sugar water, gefilte fish and potato kugel. The girls also learned how to make Smadar’s famous recipes for roast, chicken, schnitzel, meatballs, salmon and other delicious Pesach foods.
Each student participated in bedikas chometz, with Rabbi Mordechai Nemni leading the search after Rabbi Majeski shared insights.
For Seder night, the dorm sparkled. At the Seder, each student had her own Kiddush cup and Seder plate, and real flatware was used. Many of the other Yom tov meals were eaten in the dorm. For the second Seder, and the remaining Yom Tov meals, the students were hosted by the ever hospitable Crown Heights families.
On Chol HaMoed, Machon L’Yahadus students were privileged to have a special guest come to the dorm and farbreng with them – Rabbi Yosef Gansburg, shaliach of the Rebbe in Toronto. Rabbi Gansburg is the son of Rabbi Itchke and Mrs. Gita Gansburg, beloved dorm parents for 38 years.
There was also a full-day Chol Hamoed outing in a beautiful New York park that featuried boating, hiking and a snacks including cookies – homemade from scratch and kosher l’Pesach of course!
For many of the students, celebrating the entire Pesach according to all of the Chabad customs was a first. To complete the experience, the dorm hosted a Moshiach Seuda replete with beautiful niggunim and Torah thoughts.
At about 2:00 a.m., after Yom Tov was over, and everything had been cleaned up and stored away, the girls gathered one more time before going to bed. This time, it was to partake of what seems to have become a dorm tradition, fresh pizza from Kingston Avenue!
Yashar Koach to an amazing group of students, Pesach kitchen heads, incredible madrichos, the Nemnis and Smadar! Pesach at the dorm 5777 wouldn’t have happened without them!
Very limited space is still available in the Machon L’Yahadus dorm for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year. Visit womensyeshiva.org or email Mrs. Yehudis Cohen at email@example.com for more information.
Machon L’Yahadus is located at 825 Eastern Parkway and is a division of NCFJE.