The Largest Family Chanukah Event in Brooklyn

On the first night of Chanukah, Friendship Circle of Brooklyn families got a warm welcome as they walked into Bais Rivkah’s beautifully decorated Hall. The numbers this year far surpassed any other event that FC has ever hosted, with over 530 people registered to attend this exclusive Family Chanukah Party.

The hallway entrance boasted a long array of tables, each one offering something special to every single person who walked in. As the families arrived, they received specially designed beanies for the event. Noise reducing headphones were also available. Every child was given a goodie bag filled with special treats. As the families continued down the line of tables, they had the opportunity to take a family photo at the Chanukah photo booth.

A gorgeous display of all our favorite Chanuka and warm winter treats greeted the families in the main hall. Beautifully decorated table skirts and a specially hand-painted backdrop by Rosie Benabou, depicted some Friendship Circle program highlights. A large Menorah graced the stage, to be lit later on in the evening.

The lights dimmed, and the band struck a chord. Everyone rushed to their seats in anticipation. It was time for the concert to begin! Benny Friedman opened the concert with a popular Chanukah song, and everyone started clapping along. A cheer rose up from the crowd as Benny started to sing “Ivri Anochi,” and everyone waved their glow sticks to the beat in “Tashiru.” The crowd burst into dance as Benny Friedman began to sing his new hit “Charasho.” What energy!

Then, the music quieted and it was time to light the Menorah. Everyone directed their attention to Friendship Circle’s own in-house Chazzan and volunteer Yehuda Reichman, as he lit the Menorah and sang a moving rendition of Haneiros Halalu. Soon enough, the music picked up again and everyone had their arms around each other as they danced to a variety of Benny’s hit songs. Many FC participants had the opportunity to join Benny Friedman on stage, singing with him and even playing some of the instruments!

As the concert came to an end, the families were called to receive the gifts prepared from Friendship Circle of Brooklyn’s Chanukah Toy Drive, held in Zchus of Yissi Spiegel. The toys were sponsored in part by Mr. Eli Weinstock and family, “Toys for Hospitalized Children,” and dozens of individual gift donations from generous community members. The specially wrapped gifts were set aside with each child’s interests in mind – all FC members, as well as their siblings received a brand new gift. Thank you to Rabbi Levi Goldstein, who gave out a selection DVDs for everyone to take home. The smiles on each child’s face as they received their Chanukah gifts spoke volumes! As the beaming children left the hall, they received a dollar for Chanukah Gelt. What a community, what a celebration, what an evening of absolute light, joy, and unity!

The Chanukah Celebration would not have been possible without the help of the caring and dedicated FC team, staff, and volunteers headed by Rochel Karp, Lulu Feldman, Ruta Cohen, Sheina Chincholker, and Mendy Richler. We would like to thank all our high school volunteers, and our Alumni and Friends Division who lent a hand on the night of the event: Miriam Polter, Rochel Swued, Sara Kugel, and Rosie Gurkov. A huge thank you to our generous donors, without whom none of this would have been possible – every child and family is still basking in the gift of your Friendship. Thank you to Benz’s Food Co. for the Latkes, Rabbi Levi Goldstein, Rabbi Benny Wolff, all the schools who graciously collected toys, and countless others who contributed to and volunteered their precious time and expertise to make this all happen. Thank you for your ongoing friendship and support!

Special Kids Build Own Menorahs

The Friendship Circle of Brooklyn’s Menorah Building workshop at the Home Depot was filled to capacity with over 100 in attendance.

The Home Depot on Hamilton Avenue closed off their lumber section to host this event. Beautifully setup, the staff and managers at store #1225 truly outdid themselves!

Upon arrival, each child received their very own set of materials and proceeded to take seats on HD work buckets. They then rolled up their sleeves and got to work. The unique Menorah design included painting a wooden base, engraving a copper sheet, and assembling the candleholders. As the children waited for the glue on their Menorahs to dry, everyone enjoyed delicious Chanukah doughnuts. What a treat! This complimentary event offered families a fun and unique opportunity to spend time together, on a cold winter day.

The day’s success is due to the hard work and dedication of the FC volunteers, the staff, and crew of Home Depot store #1225 headed by Ms. Liz.

Photos by Rebecca Howard

Friendship Circle Kicks Of Summer with Boating Trip

On a bright Sunday morning, families part of Friendship Circle of Brooklyn kicked off the start of summer with a fantastic kayaking adventure on the Hudson River.

Families enjoyed boating at a small cove with spectacular views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. After enjoying time on the water, the families were treated to a surprise visit from Crown Heights’ very own Cholov Yisroel ice cream truck.

It was a beautiful afternoon where FC families had fun and enjoyed spending time with each other.  Special thanks to Esther Begun for organizing the trip.

Special Artists Stun the Crowd

This past Sunday, the Friendship Circle of Brooklyn hosted their fifth annual “Art of Friendship” Gallery, featuring a stunning collection of artwork created by members of the organization.

After many months of working on these creations, hundreds of people from the community and beyond came to view the beautiful gallery. The exhibition displayed three collections covering the theme of Shabbos: Women of Valor Canvas Collection, A Day of Light Candlestick Collection, and Nourishing the Soul Challah Board Collection. Friendship Circle also unveiled their unique, limited edition Bentcher Set, a vibrant and modern collection.

Guests were treated to custom Friendship Circle swag bags as they entered, and delighted in an afternoon of mingling while enjoying the delicious spread of food, fine wines and entertainment. The children were enthralled and got busy with face painting, arts and crafts and balloon art.

Rabbi Berel Majesky, director of Friendship Circle, addressed the crowd, paying tribute to the memory of Pavel H. Lampert, the late husband of Dianne Lampert. He spoke about the unique contribution the artists shared with the community, emphasizing that “it is so much more than just a gallery of artwork: We may never know the TRUE value of this art, but we know each and every one of our children represented here today are priceless; an intrinsic part of the Jewish nation, of our community.”

Heartfelt thanks go to the visionaries behind this unique EmpowerArt program: Joe Sprung and Dianne Lampert of the Bear Givers Foundation, true believers in putting children with special needs in the driver’s seat of giving. Thank you to all those who came to show their support for the Friendship Circle and its members – the talented artists. Each of the art pieces were created under the guidance of the FC volunteers, whose genuine care and love, bring out the talents in these special children, making magic happen every day.

The event may have passed but the echoes of the beauty of that afternoon continue to reverberate as friends and supporters visit FC Brooklyn’s website, viewing and purchasing the few remaining pieces that made up the Shabbos collection. Would you consider being a buyer too? See the artwork and Bentcher sets for sale online: Artwork can be viewed on Facebook, Bentchers can be purchased at fcbrooklyn.com/Shabbos or email office@FCBrooklyn.com.

Tropical Purim at Friendship Circle

There was never a quiet moment on Purim at the Friendship Circle of Brooklyn! Rabbi Berel and Chani Majesky worked round the clock to ensure a fantastic, amazing, and happy Purim for all the FC families.

Families of children with special needs were invited to a tropical-themed Purim adventure with the Friendship Circle on Purim day. At the party, attendants listened to Megillah, enjoyed fun and colorful treats, and laughed along with exciting tropical entertainment!

The doors opened and everyone was transported to a far off tropical island. The room was carefully decorated to match a vibrant tropical theme. Tables at the side sported an array of colorful treats, including Hamantaschen with many different fillings. Funny hats and tropical masks were available near the photo booth to add a little extra something to everyone’s photos. To see everyone as they walked in with their creative costumes was such a treat! Tropical island vacationers, superheroes, a pineapple costume, and more, were all present. Everyone settled down, and Rabbi Shimon Sabol read the Megilla. Then, it was time for the featured entertainer – the Parrot Rebbe! The Parrot Rebbe, a comedian and entertainer from Monsey, brought a menagerie of colorful parrots and other birds to aid in his performance.

Wearing a colorful robe, the Parrot Rebbe slowly introduced the audience to his “Chassidim,” colorful parrots and birds from many different parts of the world! The crowd cheered on as two small birds raced to the top of a ladder, hoping for their team’s bird to win! Next, the Parrot Rebbe brought out his larger parrots and everyone held their breath as the majestic birds flew in a wide circle around the room. At the end of his performance, the Parrot Rebbe gave everyone a chance to hold the beautiful birds. Everyone left the Purim party with light feet and happy hearts – ready to fulfill the rest of the Mitzvos of Purim!

But Simchas Purim for families of Friendship Circle Brooklyn didn’t end there. In addition to the festive party on Purim day, Friendship Circle hosted a Megillah reading in their Social and Sensory Space on Purim night. Bochurim were sent out to read the Megillah to 11 homebound families. 150 Shalach Manos were sent to Friendship Circle’s volunteers; 390 gifts and Purim cards were sent to FC partners; 24 students from Lamplighters Yeshiva delivered Shalach Manos to children with special needs; and over 27 volunteers visited their special friends on Purim day!

Thank you to Rabbi and Mrs. Berel and Chani Majesky, directors of Friendship Circle of Brooklyn, for organizing a fun-filled Purim for all! Thank you to Mushki Tenenbaum and Esther Begun for organizing the Purim party, and to all the volunteers who came to help set up! Thank you to Rabbis Shimon Sabol and Sholly Weiser for leining Megillah, the Schapiro boys for reading Megillah at people’s homes, to Lamplighters for partnering in the Uplift Shalach Manos program, and to all the FC volunteers!

Friendship Circle Hosts First Pre-Purim Carnival

A week before Purim, Friendship Circle of Brooklyn held their first ever Pre-Purim Carnival for their F@H participants, led by an amazing team of dedicated volunteers and high school presidents. As the volunteers entered with their friends, they were greeted with warm smiles and directed towards the many activities set up around the room.

The children were able to decorate their own special Purim masks, dress up for a photo booth, get their faces painted, play a “Knock the Haman down” game, try their luck in a beanbag toss, and much, much more! The children then gathered in the middle of the room to welcome special guest Zeesy Gurevitch from ZAPPYbyZeesy. Everyone followed along as Zeesy taught some fun Purim dance moves and brought out a parachute! It was so much fun. The sensory room was also open for the children to play in.

The carnival was the perfect thing to get everyone into the Purim spirit! It was truly special seeing the smiles on everyones faces as they enjoyed this program together.

Thank you to Mushki Tenenbaum and Hinda Kugel for organizing.

Photos by Michael Mason Photo Booth by Brandon Luckain

FC Boys Farbreng for Tu Bshvat

On the day after Tu B’shvat, the Boys Division of Friendship Circle gathered at the JCM for an inspiring Farbrengen. The boys participated in various activities that represented the many special days that occur in the special month of Shvat.

The boys built colorful candy trees to celebrate Tu B’shvat with ice cream cones, chocolate, popcorn, and green frosting. In honor of Yud Shvat, everyone seeded grass gardens, alluding the Basi L’Gani Maamer, and colored in special thank-you cards to the Rebbe. Some boys chose to make extra thank-you notes for the dedicated volunteers. The boys were also able to create bright sand art in honor of the upcoming month of Adar.

As the boys sat down to a delicious Fleishig dinner, they sang niggunim with their arms around eachother. Everyone listened intently as special guest, Rabbi Simcha Raskin, told stories about the Frierdiker Rebbe’s Mesiras Nefesh for Ahavas Yisroel. Rabbi Raskin made each story more and more exciting as he used a different voice for each character, and even brought some props to bring the story alive! As the evening came to a close, more niggunim were sung, and everyone left feeling energized and ready continue doing more Mitzvos with Chayus! Thank you to Mendel Weiss for arranging the Farbrengen.

Chanukah Bash With 8th Day

It was a cold winter night on the second night of Chanukah. Families with children with special needs got a warm welcome as they walked into a beautifully decorated Rosa Hall. Over 400 people attended this exclusive Friendship Circle Family Chanukah Party.

The hallway entrance boasted a long array of tables, each one offering something special to every single person who walked in. As the families arrived, they received specially designed T-shirts for the event. Every child was given a goodie bag filled with special treats, glow sticks, and fidget spinners donated by Bestie Toys, a company that creates extraordinary sensory toys for children with special needs. As the families continued down the line of tables, they had the opportunity to take a family photo at the Chanukah photo booth and take home a spectacular framed photo souvenir!

A gorgeous display of Latkes, doughnuts, and drinks greeted the families in the main hall. There was a backdrop specially spray painted by Alter Deitsch wishing everyone a happy Chanukah. A large Menorah graced to stage, to be lit later on in the evening.

The lights dimmed, and the band stuck a chord. Everyone rushed to their seats in anticipation. It was time for the concert to begin! Eighth Day opened the concert with their hit song “All You Got” and everyone started clapping along. A cheer rose up from the crowd as Eighth Day started to sing “Inner Flame,” and everyone waved their glow sticks to the beat in “Celebrate.” Some boys near the front got a chance to sing in the mic during “Cheery Bim” and “Hooleh!” The crowd burst into dance as Eighth Day began to sing their newest Chanukah single, “Miracle of Light.” What an energy!

Then, the music quieted and it was time to light the Menorah. Everyone directed their attention to Friendship Circle’s own in-house Chazzan, Yehuda Reichman, as he lit the Menorah and sang a moving rendition of Haneiros Halalu. Soon enough, the music picked up again and everyone had their arms around each other as they danced to “Tracht Gut,” “Ya’alili,” and “Moses in Me.”

As the music slowed and the concert came to an end, the families were called one by one to receive the gifts prepared from Friendship Circle of Brooklyn’s Chanukah Toy Drive, held in Zchus of Yissi Spiegel. The toys were sponsored in part by “Toys for Hospitalized Children,” a division of the NCFJE, Mr. Eli Weinstock and family, and dozens of individual gift donations from generous community members. The specially wrapped gifts were set aside with each child’s interests in mind. The smiles on each child’s face as they received their Chanukah gifts spoke volumes! As the beaming children left the hall, they received a dollar for Chanukah Gelt. What a community, what a celebration, what an evening of absolute light, joy, and unity!

The Chanukah Celebration would not have been possible without the help of the caring and dedicated FC team, staff, and volunteers headed by Esther Rimler, Hinda Rapoport, Ruta Cohen, Mushki Tenenbaum, Mussie Procel and Rabbi Mendy Weiss.

We would like to thank our generous donors, without whom none of this would have been possible: Anonymous, Shai and Brushie Denburg, the Shine Group, the Hecht Family, and the Karnowsky Family. We would like to extend special thanks to Rabbi Benny Wolf with the board, staff, and faculty of Beis Rivkah for going out of their way and accommodating FCBKLN with the Rosa Hall for the ever growing crowds. Thank you to Benz’s Food Co. for the Latkes, Binyomin Lerner, and countless others who volunteered their precious time and expertise to make this all happen. Thank you for your ongoing friendship and support!

Lighting: Benshimon Music: 8th Day Band, Graphic Design: PGraphics, Decor: Mushki Tenenbaum. Photos: Ken Zammito , Video: Shevi Wolvovsky

Menorahs Built at Home Depot

The Friendship Circle of Brooklyn’s Menorah Building workshop at the Home Depot was filled to capacity with over 120 in attendance.

The Home Depot on Hamilton Avenue closed off their lumber section to host this event. Beautifully setup with Chanukah themed partyware, the staff and managers at store #1225 truly outdid themselves!

Upon arrival, each child received their very own set of PVC pipes and proceeded to take seats on upside down work buckets. They rolled up their sleeves and got to work creating gorgeous Menorahs out of the pipes. The children were then able to choose paint, and decorate their Menorah any color they wish.

As they waited for their Menorahs to dry, everyone enjoyed delicious Chanukah doughnuts and chocolate gelt.

The day’s success is due to the hard work and dedication of the FC volunteers, the staff, and crew of Home Depot store #1225 headed by Ms. Liz.

Photos by Ken Zammito

A ‘Special’ 19 Kislev Farbrengen

Over 50 boys and Bochurim of Friendship Circle Brooklyn’s Boys Division gathered at the Jewish Children’s Museum for a special Farbrengen.

First, the boys ate a delicious pizza supper as they socialized and caught up with their friends. As they ate, the boys sang beautiful niggunim.

Then, it was time to start the scavenger hunt! The room was set up with various “stations” to represent the many different Chassidishe Yomim Tovim that happen in the month of Kislev. Everyone received a page with clues that led them from booth to booth – they had to visit each station in order to “Get out of Jail,” just like the Alter Rebbe was freed from prison on Yud Tes Kislev.

At each station, there was a special activity or game related to the Chassidishe Yom Tov. The boys were able to learn more about the extraordinary things that happened for the Rebbeim and the Chassidim during the special month of Kislev! Some of the dates included in the scavenger hunt are Rosh Chodesh Kislev, Beis Kislev, Tes/Yud Kislev, Yud Daled Kislev, and Yud Tes Kislev. After visiting each booth, the boys moved on to decorate delicious Chanukah-themed cookies.

As the evening ended, the boys sat together with their arms around each other and sang Padah B’Sholom. It was so beautiful to hear everyone’s voices come together in unison as they sang the Niggun.Abba Wolosow then shared some stories about the Mitteler Rebbe and explained how the lessons are relevant to everyday life. Everyone went home feeling uplifted and inspired by the wonderful evening.

Thank you to Mendel Weiss, Boys Divison Coordinator, for organizing the Farbrengen, and to Rabbi Abba Wolosow for Farbrenging with the boys. Thank you to the volunteers of the Friendship Circle for bringing an incredible energy and Chayus to the program!