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In A Class Of Their Own:
A Class Of Chaya Mushkas
By Rochel Gershowitz

In the Chaf-Tes Shvat sicha of 5748, after the end of Shiva for the Rebbetzin, the Rebbe thanked those who had founded new mosdos in the Rebbetzin’s name, and spoke about the nachas ruach this gave the Rebbetzin.

Though, it wasn’t only mosdos that were named after the Rebbetzin; thousands of girls around the world proudly bear the Rebbetzin’s name, Chaya Mushka. The girls born around the time of her passing are now reaching the age of bas mitzva. In honor of Chaf-Beis Shvat, we interviewed girls of this age and asked them to describe their feelings about the Rebbetzin, and how they feel about being in a class full of Chaya Mushkas.

What do you know about Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka?

Chaya Mushka Kastiel: She was a Chassidiste and a bas melech.

Chaya Mushka Burstein: The Rebbetzin did many acts of chesed without people knowing about it.

Chaya Mushka Garelik: She was extremely humble.

Chaya Mushka Wilhelm: And modest, too.

Chaya Mushka Amitai: We have heard that she ran away from the public eye.

How do you feel about your name?

Chaya Mushka Stambler: I am very proud of my name.

Chaya Mushka Gopin: I feel it is a z’chus (privilege) to be named after her.

Chaya Mushka P.: The name obligates me to follow in the ways of the Rebbetzin.

Chaya Mushka Gelbstein: I feel close to her because I have her name.

Mushka Segal: My parents visited the Rebbetzin, and my family on my mother’s side, the Butman family, visited the Rebbetzin. I feel a strong connection to her.

Chaya Mushka Dashi: When I was born, my father wanted to give me the name Nechama Dina and my mother wanted to name me Chaya Mushka. They couldn’t decide what to do. That night, my father dreamed that he was standing on the bima in shul, about to give me the name Nechama Dina, but instead he blurted out the name Chaya Mushka!

In what ways do you try to emulate the Rebbetzin?

Chaya Mushka Aharon: I try to behave like her, to do many good deeds, like she did.

Chaya Mushka Fried: They say I greatly resemble her. I am also quiet and shy.

Chaya Mushka Tzipori: I try to be a model of Chassidishkeit when I go out on mivtzaim.

Chaya Mushka Gopin: In many ways I try to be like her, such as trying to influence my surroundings. However, I heard she didn’t like to be photographed, and there are very few known pictures of her — but I like to be photographed.

Chaya Mushka Amitai: My teacher at school gave us a homework assignment to write about someone we admired. I chose the Rebbetzin, because I really want to learn from her.

Chaya Mushka Wilhelm: When I think about the Rebbetzin, it influences me to daven better and to get along with my friends.

Doesn’t the name sound strange to non-Lubavitchers?

Chaya Mushka Tzipori: I had a friend who said that if people would call her by that name, she would try to hide it. I told her that I especially liked my name and am very proud of it.

Chaya Mushka Aharon: When I say that my name is Chaya Mushka, people immediately say, “Aha, you’re probably a Lubavitcher.”

Chaya Mushka Burstein: Sometimes people ask me what my name means, so I explain that Chaya come from “chayus,” life and energy, and Mushka means the sweet fragrance of spices.

Chaya Mushka Cohen: My father is a shaliach in Avivim, and sometimes when I go on mivtzaim with him, children are surprised by my name and even laugh. When I tell them, “You are not laughing at me; you are laughing at the holy name of the righteous Rebbetzin,” they stop and apologize.

Chaya Mushka Weisman: At first, my family on my father’s side was not accustomed to this name. But eventually they got used to it.

Chaya Mushka Kastiel: My class corresponds with girls in another city. In my first letter, I explained the meaning of my name.

Chaya Mushka Amitai: Once a doctor asked me in surprise about my name, “What kind of name is that?” I calmly answered him, “I am named after the Rebbetzin of Chabad!”

Is there a story about the Rebbetzin that you especially identify with?

Chaya Mushka Wilschansky: Once, the Rebbetzin saw a family crying because they didn’t have money to pay the rent, and the police had thrown all their belongings out on the street. The Rebbetzin was passing by in a car, and she immediately stopped and gave them the money to pay what they owed.

Chaya Mushka Abutbol: I love the story about the court case, when the Rebbetzin said that her father and the sfarim belong to the Chassidim.

Chaya Mushka Fried: The Bais Rivka girls composed a song about the Rebbetzin. It speaks about the Rebbetzin’s shunning the public eye, and her desire that we be mekushar to the Rebbe, and it speaks about her life and her midos. I really love singing it.

Chaya Mushka Weisman: I love the story about when the Rebbetzin received a bouquet of flowers for her birthday, and inside there was an envelope with names of those who needed brachos from the Rebbe. The Rebbe said that also the Rebbetzin could bless them.

Chaya Mushka Aharon: I love the story that every time the Rebbe returned from farbrengens, even if it was late at night, the Rebbetzin was always waiting up for him.

Mushka Segal: I like to hear the stories about her tzniyus and humility, how she always took different routes and went to distant shops so that she wouldn’t be identified.

Chaya Mushka Tzipori: The story that made an impression on me is the one about the girl in a dormitory in New York who met the Rebbetzin in a stationery store without realizing it was the Rebbetzin. The next day, the Rebbetzin called the dormitory to see how the girl was doing.

Do you get special attention at gatherings in memory of the Rebbetzin?

Chaya Mushka Akselrod: Yes. At the Bas Melech gathering on Chaf-Beis Shvat, the emcee calls upon all the girls who are named after the Rebbetzin to go up to the stage.

Chaya Mushka Stambler: I am the oldest Chaya Mushka (in Kfar Chabad), and the principal always calls on me to read a pasuk in memory of the Rebbetzin.

Chaya Mushka Wilschansky: I am the oldest Chaya Mushka of the girls in Kiryat Chabad in Tzfat, because I was born a month and a half after the Rebbetzin passed away.

Chaya Mushka Peretz: I always enjoy the Chaf-Beis Shvat assemblies, because when they ask who is named after the Rebbetzin, I feel very special.

You will be bas mitzva this year. What good hachlata (resolution) will you make? Will it have any connection to the Rebbetzin?

Chaya Mushka Cohen: Yes. I think I will resolve to be mehader in tzniyus like the Rebbetzin.

Chaya Mushka Dashi: In honor of our bas mitzva, the principal of our school, Ateres Chaya, in Bnei Brak, is organizing a trip to 770 for the 6th grade. We received a bracha from the Rebbe for the trip, and, G-d willing, I plan to go.

Chaya Mushka Kastiel: My hachlata is to be careful about saying Chitas, and to try to emulate the Rebbetzin.

Chaya Mushka Amitai: I decided to daven with extra sincerity.

Chaya Mushka P.: I will be careful when it comes to ahavas Yisroel.

Chaya Mushka Garelik: G-d willing, I will be particular about being refined and humble, two of the Rebbetzin’s characteristics.

Chaya Mushka Axelrod: I will choose something connected to the Rebbetzin’s midos, I haven’t decided what it will be yet.

How do the teachers differentiate between all the Chaya Mushkas in the classroom?

It turns out that the teachers choose one of two options. They might use the child’s surname in addition to Chaya Mushka, though it sometimes happens that girls have the same last name, in which case they say Chaya Mushka bas so and so. Or else, nicknames are used, such as Chayale, Mushkie, Mussie, Chaike, etc.

All the girls concur that the teachers definitely get mixed up, and that sometimes it can even get pretty hilarious.

Chaya Mushka Amitai: Sometimes the teacher just says, “Chaya Mushka!” and half the class cries out, “Who, me?”

* * *

Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka certainly has much nachas from her thousands of “daughters.” Her modest and humble personality guides all Bnos Chabad.


The Power of a Name

Mrs. Aharon relates: When our daughter was born, we gave her both names, Chaya Mushka, but we only called her Chaya. She was very energetic, perhaps even mischievous. In raising our voice to discipline her, we often ended up calling her by both names. And wonder of wonders, from the moment we started calling her Chaya Mushka, she calmed down completely.

* * *

When I was pregnant, I traveled to the U.S., where I desperately wanted to meet the Rebbetzin. I got up my courage and went up her steps on President Street, but at the last moment I felt a yiras ha’kavod (awe) and did not knock. I just turned around and went away.

When I returned to Eretz Yisroel, I was very disappointed with myself. Why hadn’t I knocked? I drove myself crazy thinking that maybe the Rebbetzin would have opened the door, and maybe I would have been allowed to say a few words to her. I was really upset.

One day I thought to myself: one minute here. What would have happened if you had met the Rebbetzin? What would you have asked her? I thought about it and concluded that if I could ask her just one question, I would have asked: What is the secret to a happy married life?

Then, one night I dreamt that the Rebbetzin was facing me. I said to myself, here’s my opportunity, and I asked her my question. The Rebbetzin answered, “Whenever you have a problem or a question, think about what I would do under the circumstances. If you do that, you will always have shalom bayis in your home.”

Her answer has been my guiding light and has helped me tremendously.


Teachers choose one of two options to deal with the problem of distinguishing from among the many Chaya Mushkas in their class. They might use the child’s surname in addition to Chaya Mushka. Or else, nicknames are used, such as Chayale, Mushkie, Mussie, Chaike, etc.





Once, the Rebbetzin saw a family crying because they didn’t have money to pay the rent, and the police had thrown all their belongings out on the street. The Rebbetzin was passing by in a car, and she immediately stopped and gave them the money to pay what they owed.







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