Ma’ayanos in Toronto

When talking to Mrs. Heber, the director of LVN in Toronto, the devotion she feels toward her post-seminary girls is evident in every word.  She doesn’t just cater to the spiritual needs of her girls – she makes sure that each and every one of her girls gets her own personalized menu of service. And Ma’ayanos, which is what the LVN Toronto branch is called, actually does just that.

When Mrs. Heber began describing her program to me, with all the minutia involved, I was amazed at how she managed to make the girls feel that what mattered to them really mattered to her too.  First, there’s the shiurim – four series of shiurim in all!  And each shiur fills a very specific need. There’s a va’ad on Monday for girls “fresh off the plane.” This shiur, ably given by Mrs. Wolman, focuses on helping the girls to acclimate from their seminary days, where they were cocooned in the walls of ruchniyus, to the world outside which they have rejoined. Then there’s a va’ad on Tuesday, given by Mrs. Heber herself, for girls aged 20 to 21.  Their issues are different than the younger group since the culture shock of integrating into the “real world” has worn off, but their concerns and struggles are very real all the same. There’s also a va’ad every other Monday given by Mrs. Heber for girls over age 22 whose lives and challenges certainly require a different approach.  All three va’adim focus on avodas hamiddos, though each group has its own twist for their participants and each speaker sensitively personalizes how the girls can deal with the situations that they currently face.  Finally, there is a fourth shiur, open to all the girls, which is given by Mrs. Shira Lipner every Sunday on the topic of Nashim in Tanach, a topic which strikes a chord in the hearts of all Bnos Yisrael. And the highlight of these shiurim is the Rosh Chodesh shiur each month, which features a guest speaker and a delightful culinary spread.

Mrs. Heber wasn’t satisfied with just addressing the spiritual needs of her girls. She was concerned with their social and emotional needs as well. She wanted to empower them with their abilities, while giving them a chance to socialize and enjoy each other’s company.  So she launched mini-courses, which cover the gamut of skills, ranging from computers to photography, food decorating and hair design. She began exercise classes as well.  All so that her girls could be productive and enjoy the experience too.

All this programming, held in rented facilities, comes at a cost.  Mrs. Heber devised two payment options to make it affordable.  Girls can either choose twice-yearly membership, which entitles the members to free access to all shiurim, 1 free exercise class each week and reduced tuition for all the mini-courses. The other option is for the girls to pay each time they choose to attend a shiur.

When Mrs. Heber began setting up the groundwork for Ma’ayanos, she wasn’t so aware of how global Lechu V’Nelcha really was.  But when Rebbetzin Fink approached her, prior to the program launch, to inquire if she would be interested in joining the LVN network, Mrs. Heber jumped at the chance.  She felt that being part of LVN would give her girls more avenues for inspiration and camaraderie, and if there was a way to make her girls feel more involved and connected, then she wanted that for them.  So Toronto became another proud beacon in the light of Lechu V’Nelcha.

Tzippy Zager