On Motzei Shabbat of August 31, almost 140 women sat in concentric rings of chairs as part of the fifth annual Erev Shira v’Hitorerut. The program of music followed by a shiur and then selichot was run by Migdal Oz in conjunction with Ma’ayanot High School.
Sarah Robinson, a Migdal Oz graduate who currently attends Stern College, attended the event for the second time because she enjoyed her experience last year so much.
“You ultimately connect on a very humane level to people who are total strangers,” Robinson said.
Robinson wasn’t the only Migdal Oz graduate in the room; though the program is open to the entire community each year, many of the attendees are bogerets of the seminary. The family of one graduate, Ilana Barta, sponsored the event along with Rella Feldman and family, Faye and David Landes, Barbara and Simcha Hochman, Avi and Rivi Katz, Gila Leither, Shoshana and Ayal Samuels, Guita and Steven Wilf and Rachel and David Leshaw.
Barta’s family- her aunts, grandmother and mother- attend each year along with her and “really enjoy it.” Many graduates of both Ma’ayanot and Migdal Oz attend.
“It’s nice to see people go back to where they came from,” Teaneck resident Yael Davidovic said. For Davidovic, the event is spiritually uplifting.
“I enjoy being able to watch the room as everyone’s singing. You can see people thinking back and getting to a place where things are calmer and better,” Barta said.
This year’s shiur on the Yamim Noraim , which is open to and was attended by some men, was delivered by Shoshana Samuels, a Yoetzet Halacha and teacher at Ma’ayanot. Every year a committee picks a speaker who showcases what a knowledgeable, female scholar looks like, according to Sharon Rifkind, associate director of development at the Etzion Foundation. Samuels is also an alumna of Migdal Oz.
Though the program has only been formalized for five years, Migdal Oz graduates have been recreating the spiritual lead up to the holidays for years now.
“All you need to do is start with a song and it goes from there,” Rifkind said.
By Aliza Chasan