Jun 5, 2013
Family Awards Tznius Dressed
A new award in memory of Shayna Bracha Borevitz OBM just might surprise you the next time you are walking on Kingston Avenue.
By COLlive Reporter
You may be on your way to pick your son up from the school bus tomorrow, shopping for Shabbos next week, or wishing a friend Mazal Tov at her wedding tonight; and you may just become the winner of the Shayna Bracha Award.
The Shayna Bracha Award Program, launched a short five months ago, has quietly been touching the hearts of women and girls in Crown Heights.
In a passionate email from a recipient of the award, COLlive learned about the program. The woman was clearly moved and wanted to share the experience with the greater Crown Heights community.
In an interview with Chaim and Tzameret Borevitz, COLlive was told about the project they launched in memory of their dear daughter Shayna Bracha Borevitz OBM.
The motivation for this program, they said, started when the family sat shivah for their daughter after her passing from an illness in December of 2011.
"During the shivah for our daughter, we heard so many stories from women and girls who were inspired by Shayna. They spoke of her steadfast emunah and bitachon. Her incredible ahavas yisroel, hiskashrus, and simcha."
"We also heard over and over again that she dressed so stylish and beautiful," said her mother Tzameret. "And she was always so tznius at the same time. We heard stories from women and girls about how Shayna inspired them to be tznius."
The following is an excerpt of an email they received during Shayna's shiva:
"Shayna was just awesome. Plain and simple. She was gorgeous, yet completely and constantly tznius. Shayna had this elegance to her. Just meeting her, I knew she was different than the average person I had ever met. She was holy, and she was special. At one point when I was in 9th grade and Shayna was a senior, I was sitting with her on a Bnos Menachem shabbaton, and she told me something I will never forget. After complimenting her that she was gorgeous and her complimenting me that I was cute, she said to me, 'tznius should not be 'hard,' like FINE, I'll pull down my skirt that extra inch because I MUST. Be tznius because it's beautiful, because you know it's right.' It made tznius a million times easier for me."
When Chaim related some of the stories to a friend after the shloshim, his friend challenged him to do something about tznius in her memory.
"Right away I started thinking of how I could create a program that would somehow recreate Shayna's positive and original approach," said Chaim. "It was also important to me that the message would combine beauty and tznius together. For Shayna, both attributes were extremely important."
With this in mind, Chaim and Tzameret created the "Shayna Bracha Tznius & Beautiful Award."
The award, given out by volunteers to women and girls for dressing tznius and beautiful in Crown Heights, is both an attractive certificate proclaiming, "You are Tznius & Beautiful," and a gift certificate from one of the neighborhood businesses.
Mrs. Borevitz said that she instructs the volunteers to follow the tznius criteria published by the Rabbonim. She added that, "with the inyan of beauty, we are not, chas v'shalom, judging styles and labels. We are trying to award people that are obviously making an effort to look nice, while keeping the laws of tznius."
The program currently gives out awards to girls from the age of bas mitzvah and up, with the hope of expanding to include lower elementary school students too. The award's team of volunteers has given out over 100 prizes and expects to reach 200 awards by Gimmel Tammuz. The team now gives out approximately 60 prizes per month.
Winners shared that they were impressed by the award's way of conveying the message of tznius in such a positive way. During the first week of the program, they heard comments like:
"I always wished we'd have something like this in our community. Thanks for such a wonderful program."
"I feel so humbled to be receiving this award."
"This is the most inspiring thing I have ever heard of in my life."
With no exception, the award has made every recipient happy. Many said they were, "really touched." One winner was so touched that she was moved to tears. Some winners knew Shayna and felt especially honored to get her award.
Experiencing the program's impact first hand, some winners have asked to become volunteers themselves, while other winners have donated money. Organizers say they've heard through the grapevine that teachers that have won the award talk about it in their classes. They use it as a lesson--not just for the importance of tznius, but also as an example of the effect of emphasizing people's positive qualities.
The effect of the program is not limited to the winners of the awards themselves. One teacher who won shared the experience with some of her students. Excited by the idea, the students planned to dress tznius around school and on Kingston Avenue with the hope of winning an award themselves.
"Hearing such feedback keeps us motivated, knowing that this is just what Shayna would have wanted," said Chaim, as he shared some of his favorite stories. "One mother won the award while shopping with her ten-year-old daughter. When she won, she turned to her daughter and said, 'Now are you proud of Mommy?' Another mother told Mrs. Borevitz that she had one daughter who was especially challenged with tznius. After she was married for a while, she took it upon herself to start dressing more tznius. When she was given the award one day, she immediately shared the experience with her mother. She said she felt like Hashem was telling her that He recognizes her efforts."
Yet another winner shared her experience with the organizers: she had bought a new skirt, but wasn't exactly sure if it passed as tznius. One morning she planned to wear it, then changed her mind for a more tznius skirt. When she won the Shayna Bracha Award on Kingston that day, she knew why, and hasn't worn that other skirt at all. She also said it was so nice to know that people really noticed her efforts to be tznius.
To enable the women and girls of our community to share their thoughts and feelings about this project, the Shayna Bracha Awards team recently launched a website, www.shaynaawards.com. The site is filled with content, including many stories illustrating Shayna's remarkable personality and amazing accomplishments.
The program is partially sponsored by local businesses. Graphic Designer Mushky Ginsburg sponsored her time to design the award. Zev Cadaner of The Print House kindly donated the printing.
These generous sponsors donate prizes every month:
Little Feet Shoes
La Femme, Nail Salon and Spa
Anat Chazan Wigs
Racheli Chaimson Wigs
Style it Hair - Shulamit Heller
Miracle Fashion Alterations
See View Optical
Tamar's Beauty Salon
The project also receives donations from Anash. Anybody who wishes to contribute can go to https://shaynabrachafund.pushkgiving.com/. Anybody who wants to help in any other way can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.