National Geographic : 2006 Feb
A Woman's Work Lubavitch mothers tend theiryoungest on the women's side of a little boy's birthdayparty in Crown Heights. Across the room theirhus bands engage in animateddebate. "It made our heads turn, definitely," says ChayaSasonkin (standingwith infant).Lubavitch men and women often remain separateat such social gatherings. "We set very clearboundaries," says Sasonkin. "It's in the spiritof modesty." That spiritinfuses thefaith. Girls and women always dress with knees and elbows covered, and marriedwomen wear wigs or shawls over theirhair."We keep what'spre cious hidden," says Sasonkin. "There's a sense of respect, ofsacredness,about women." Not yet requiredto hide their hair,girls at the Machon Chanayeshiva school in Crown Heights (below) get readyfor Shabbat,the weekly day of rest andprayer.Rebbe Schneer son promoted such religious schools to give girls raisedin secularhomes knowledge of the Torah.As "lamplightersofJewish souls," he wrote, women must teach their children about God. Sasonkin, a 33-year-old mother of seven, takes the role seriously: "It's the mother who says the morningprayers,who teaches the blessings, who shapes the values athome."