Machon Chana

Machon Chana

Machon Chana is a private religious school for Jewish women in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York [ [ Machon Chana Women's Institute] ] affiliated with the Chabad Hasidic movement. The school is open to women of any age, and focuses on Torah study. [ [ Machon Chana: Academic Programs] ]

It was founded in 1972 as an institution for Baalas Teshuva women and its role in educating women from non-Orthodox backgrounds has been studied on the academic level. Bonnie J. Morris in "Lubavitcher Women in America: Identity and Activism in the Post-War Era" (State University of New York Press) notes that that Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe saw the new institution as a means to introduce, on an academic level, young Jewish women from secular backgrounds to Lubavitch women teachers who then strove to reach the broader families their students as well. [ [ Lubavitcher Women in America: Identity and Activism in the Postwar Era (State University of New York) 1998, p. 49.] ]

The school is unique because it was one the first schools established in the United Sates that was geared to meet the needs of the many young Jewish women influenced by Chabad shluchim sent all over the world to teach and who in turn invariably attracted many who wished to learn more about Judaism but lacked that education when they were younger. This was part of a world wide trend related to the Baal teshuva movement.


The goals of Machon Chana as described in its mission statement are:

:...Provide comprehensive Torah education with high academic standards for women of all ages and backgrounds... and imbue them with an appreciation and understanding of Torah and Judaism through the study of Chassidic thought and lifestyle... tools for lifelong personal growth and fulfillment as Jewish women in the family and in society at large. [ [ Volunteer Match] ]


Machon Chana has been reported in the media such as in New York's Daily News:

:Passover will have yet more meaning this year for Shirley ____, who came from Caracas, Venezuela, to Crown Heights to learn about enrolled at Machon Chana, a school for adult women who want a deeper connection to their religion...____ and her classmates recently visited D&T Shmura Bakery, which makes matzoh by hand. In class at Machon Chana, they had discussed what observant Jews do and do not eat during the celebration...Deborah ____, 21, of Chicago, who spent a year at Machon Chana, added, "There is meaning in each word of the Haggadah [the account of the Exodus read during a Passover meal or Seder] ..."The rebbe believed that by educating the woman, our future was ensured," said Sara Labkowski, founder and executive director of Machon Chana. "If the woman is strong, the whole family is strong."

:About 120 women study at the school annually, Labkowski said: "They come from all over the world to learn how to observe and how to transmit that to their children. Some come to us not knowing the Hebrew alphabet. Some have never kept Seder. We give them something that is rightfully theirs. We give them the gift of a true Jewish life." [ [ "Whole religion in one matzoh" by Joyce Shelby, Daily News, Tuesday, April 15th 2008] ]

The influence of the school among Baalas teshuvas was noted and its teachers were quoted by Philip Leroy Kilbride, Jane Carter Goodale, Elizabeth R. Ameisen in "Encounters with American Ethnic Cultures" (University of Alabama Press): one Machon Chana administrator put it: Women are different - the way their minds work, their emotions...and the physical needs and abilities are different...

:To illustrate the particular point...let us examine the case histories of several young women who are students at Machon Chana, the Lubavitcher college in Crown Heights for ba'alot teshuva women...

:One afternoon during my second trip to Machon Chana, I had a lengthy discussion/interview ith two students.... [ [ Encounters with American Ethnic Cultures: The Lubavitcher Experience (Philip Leroy Kilbride, Jane Carter Goodale, Elizabeth R. Ameisen, University of Alabama Press), 1990, p. 194.] ]

ee also

* Baal teshuva
* Baal teshuva movement
* Bais Rivka
* Bais Yaakov
* Chabad outreach
* Jewish feminism
* Midrasha
* Orthodox Judaism outreach


*Morris, Bonnie. "Female education in the Lubavitcher community: The Beth Rivkah and Machon Chana schools" in "Women in spiritual and communitarian societies in the United States" Wendy Chmielewski, et al., eds. Syracuse, NY, 1993
*Srinivasan, Gita. "Women and Personal Empowerment in Lubavitcher Hasidism" in "Encounters with American Ethnic Cultures: Interpretation of Gender and Ethnicity: The Lubavitcher Experience: Strategies for Strength:" Kilbride, et al., eds. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1990.


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