On Sunday, October 7, close to 500 parents and grandparents joined together to officially welcome and congratulate Mrs. Chaya Gornish on becoming the Menaheles of Bnos Bais Yaakov (BBY). The guests filled the Ateres Nechama Liba hall to capacity to hear words of inspiration and chizuk, and they were not disappointed.
Mr. Yoel Edelstein, a parent and member of the Board of Trustees of BBY, opened the program. Mr. Edelstein thanked everyone for coming on this special occasion to help welcome the new Menaheles.
He remarked that, standing at the podium and looking out at the parents, he felt humbled to be counted among this elite group of people that make up the parent body of the school.
“Over the past number of years, the very walls of BBY have been permeated with positivity and the school with its excellent staff has been considered a makom chinuch l’banos of the highest caliber”.
Mr. Edelstein pointed out that what makes BBY so amazing is its unique parent body. In addition to being active participants in their children’s chinuch, these parents are committed to spiritual growth and the furtherance of Torah ideals in a wholesome manner.
Mr. Edelstein relayed that he feels blessed that his children are surrounded by the children of such a devoted parent body.
With the encouragement of the parent body, the board endeavored to fill a void in the leadership of the school. This was not an easy task as the principals of BBY are an extremely talented and capable group, and the committee reached out widely to solicit advice and recommendations for suitable candidates.
It quickly became apparent that a qualified Menaheles was available in their own backyard and Mrs. Chaya Gornish, Menaheles of Tichon Moshe Meir (TMM), BBY’s High School was approached to consider the position.
Mr. Edelstein introduced Mrs. Gornish by explaining that she generally shies away from publicity and leads by giving credit to others, rarely taking credit for herself. Her career as an educator began 25 years ago when she taught first grade in the morning and 12th-grade subjects in the afternoon.
For the past 10 years she has been the principal of TMM and has helped to mold it into a premier institution. Mr. Edelstein then asked Mrs. Gornish to address the audience .
The new Menaheles began by first asking reshus from the chashuve Rabbanim and parents to speak and then expressing how she looks forward to working with parents she has known for years as well as all the new and unfamiliar faces as well.
Mrs. Gornish explained that in the times of the Beis Hamikdash, when Klal Yisrael was oleh regel, one of the reasons for doing so was to make each Jew feel that they themselves were capable of being a vessel of kedushah and hashraas haShechinah.
So too, it is the goal of BBY to instill in each talmidah the belief that she herself is capable of being the vessel of kedushah and hashraas haShechinah, just as BBY is.
Mrs. Gornish reassured the crowd that BBY is governed by the mesorah of the Bais Yaakov legacy and that daas Torah of Bais Yaakov determines all questions that arise. She specifically noted that BBY is fortunate to be under the guidance of Harav Elya Brudny.
Mrs. Gornish said that the attitude that permeates BBY is one of “Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu” and the creative lessons of the teachers create ongoing excitement and joy in Yiddishkeit. Mrs. Gornish ended with a brachah for success for all the talmidos of BBY and for a bright future for the entire mosad.
Mr. Edelstein introduced Harav Elya Brudny, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Mir, Brooklyn, who has been giving ongoing hadrachah to BBY and gives of his time and energy to help the school.
Rav Brudny began by relaying that Mrs. Gornish had accepted this position on the condition that the board would designate a Rav with whom she could consult on a regular basis. Rav Brudny said that she subordinated herself to daas Torah and this says a lot about her, and her vision for the school.
Rav Brudny said that in this transitional time for the school, it was imperative to mention the history of this makom chinuch in the neighborhood. The school was founded by Harav Shlomo Freifeld, zt”l, and the Menahel for many years was Rabbi Shmuel Hiller.
Rav Brudny said that in order to be successful, we have to appreciate what was accomplished by the previous administration and only then can the present administration build on those successes.
Rav Brudny stressed that the Bais Yaakov school system is only a partner and not a substitute for parents. The role of the school is supplemental; not meant to stand in the place of parents and family. Hands-on parenting is a prerequisite for a successful school, said the Rosh Yeshivah.
The chinuch that a child sees at home should be reinforced by the school and Rav Brudny noted that the school will do everything possible for the girls to excel. Rabbi Brudny talked about the memories that are made for children when parents prepare for Shabbos properly and stay at home for Shabbos seudos as a family.
He felt it was important at this occasion to impress on the parents the importance of regaining the chinuch of hachanah l’Shabbos and to reconsider if every Shabbos invitation out for the parents is really worthwhile.
When tznius and emunah are only taught in the classroom and not by example at home, we are starting with a deficit. Children are trusting and secure with information from their parents and this is how the fundamentals of Yiddishkeit must be passed from generation to generation.
Rav Brudny also stressed that every family has a mesorah, whether from a biological ancestor such as a grandparent or a “spiritual ancestor” such as a Rebbi. Reminding our children of our mesorah is an important way to partner with this elite school.
Rav Brudny ended with a brachah that the whole pyramid of leadership in Bnos Bais Yaakov and the “Zevuluns” who support the school, should have tremendous siyatta diShmaya in building generations of bnos melachim and that the parents and community should see continued fruits of the labors of all those who toil in the chinuch of these bnos Yisrael.
The crowd was invited to partake of light refreshments and all agreed that this long awaited event had indeed accomplished its goal of reinforcing each parents’ sense of great confidence in the school.