Large Party Celebrates “Thank You Hashem”

Photos by Andrea Scrivanich and Veronica

On the first night of Chanukah, families at Friendship Circle of Brooklyn experienced a Chanukah like none other!

After receiving their customized Thank You Hashem x FCBKLN t-shirts, FC families stopped for a quick step-and-repeat photo. Then, they continued on to enjoy the delicious array of Chanukah treats: Dreidel Waffles, latkes, donuts, apple cider, and more!

The lights dimmed, and the Joey Newcomb concert began! Everyone clapped and danced to the beat of Joey’s most popular songs, including “How Aw Ya Reb Yid,” “Mi Keamcha Yisroel,” and of course, “Thank You Hashem.”

The Menorah was lit by Friendship Circle’s own FC Minyan Chazzanim – Levi Harlig and Boruch Schneur Chein. Then, the crowd sang Haneiros Halalu with a recording of “Chanukah Live.”

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, Mr. Marvin Feinstein, “Toys for Hospitalized Children,” and dozens of individual gift donations from generous community members.

As the beaming children left the hall, they received a unique one-dollar coin for Chanukah Gelt.

A huge thank-you to the dedicated FC team, staff, and volunteers headed by Rochel Karp, Mimi Garelik, Ruta Cohen, Sarah Hodakov, and Tzvi Gewirtz. Thank you to all our high school volunteers and presidents. Thank you to Benz’s for the Latkes, Rabbis Sholom Goldstein and Benny Wolf of Bais Rivkah, 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.

 

One Father, One Nation – VIDEO

One Father, One Nation

ואב אחד לכולנה

Join us on Sunday, June 6, 2021, as we celebrate friendship and unity on Kingston Avenue! Come by to experience the joy and pride our FC members experience, seeing their art on display.

This year, we will be unveiling a magnificent and beautiful mural created by our FC members that will become a fixed community landmark. This project is in collaboration with Bear Givers and their EmpowerArt program.

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!

A Small Piece of Heaven

We recently released a new music video, starring the siblings of children with special needs, as well as highlighting a few of our past programs and events.

Composed by Abie Rotenberg, this timeless tune is sung by the siblings of children with special needs.

The beautiful lyrics teach us to look beyond the facade to see everyone for who they truly are, and to recognize the G-d given abilities that are unique to each individual.

Special Moms Treated to Night Out

40 women gathered on Motzei Shabbos for a special program for mothers active with Friendship Circle of Brooklyn and in conjunction with Yaldei Shluchei Harebbe.

With a screening of a deeply moving documentary and a panel featuring siblings of adults with special needs, the women were treated to a beautiful evening.

Around the world, the siblings of special needs children are known as “glass children.” No, it doesn’t mean that these children are fragile and breakable. However, with a disproportionate amount of parental energy being invested into the special child; sometimes the siblings’ needs are “see-through.” As mothers, we all worry about our children’s emotional and physical needs being met – how much more so when the juggle and struggle is more challenging. This evening was created for the sole purpose of addressing these needs – what the mothers can do to raise happy and healthy children.

As the women entered the venue, they were greeted with a smorgasbord of delicious food; sushi, salad, soup, and other snacks. After taking some time to socialize, the women entered the JCM’s theater to begin the program.

The evening began with a screening of the documentary, “My Hero Brother,” a moving film about a group of young people with special needs who embark on a demanding trek through the Himalayas with their siblings. As they deal with physical and emotional challenges, unresolved conflicts come to the surface and heartwarming friendships develop. The documentary brought to light the struggles, pressures, and unique needs of siblings of children with special needs.

The film was followed by a panel led by siblings of adults with special needs from the community. Cham Cham Reichman and Batsheva Borenstein shared their unique experiences on what it was like to grow up as a sibling of a special needs child. Their heartfelt words hit home, and gave everyone much food for thought. An informal discussion amongst the mothers ensued with time to discuss ideas, pose questions and hear from experienced mothers about some tips and tricks and things to look out for. Beautiful care packages for these dedicated siblings were offered to take home, with customizable cards and delicious chocolates, as well as an inspiring book for these super moms!

Thank you to Mrs. Chani Majesky, Chaya Pape, Pearl Rimler, and Nechama Dina Schmukler for all their help in coordinating this evening. Thank you to Sushi Spot, Chanie Greenbaum, Rosie Markowitz and Mussie Wilhelm for their assistance with the food and décor.

This evening was created in conjunction with Yaldei Shluchei HaRebbe

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.

Bentcher Set Features Special Art

 A limited edition set of “Bentchers” featuring artwork by children and young adults with special needs, has been printed and available for sale at the Friendship Circle’s upcoming art show.

Under the guidance of the Friendship Circle team, volunteers assisted each member of the Friendship Circle in creating a beautiful masterpiece in the theme of Shabbos. The workshops gifted each participant the opportunity to express his or her inner creative vision.

‘The Art of Friendship’ event on June 3rd, 2018. 3:00 – 5:00pm at the Jewish Children’s Museum, will feature a full gallery of these creative pieces. Open to the public and child friendly, the annual event brings the community together in celebrating the abilities and talents of all children and young adults.

The “Bentcher Collection” and all original artwork will be sold on a first come, first serve basis.

Artwork Photography: Nachman Blizinsky Design: P-Graphics Printing: Empire Press

      

High School Volunteers Thanked

140 high school girls and their proud mothers came together at the JCM to salute the girls’ hard work and dedication to the Friendship Circle of Brooklyn. Beautiful decor and a delicious milchig buffet (set up by Chani Greenbaum Events) greeted the girls as they came in.

The program began with a fun interactive Bingo game, bringing together the girls from numerous schools and their mothers, to ‘meet’ the FC family.

Yehudis Telsner won a fantastic FC swag bag for finishing her board first. A video, narrated by Professor Reuven Feurstein, presented the Rebbe’s deep insight into the world of special needs, showing the constant push for children to accomplish so much Tehillim was recited with Layah bas Nechama Dina in mind. Friendship Circle’s first ever inclusive choir was met with thunderous applause, as the girls sang a beautiful rendition of Avraham Fried’s ‘Forever One’.

Mrs. Chaya Pape spoke to the girls about her experiences as a mother of a child with special needs. She stressed how much of a difference the volunteers make in the lives of the families in our community. She thanked the mothers for ‘giving up’ this time with their daughters, so they could be part of this special journey.

Mrs. Chani Majesky, director of Friendship Circle of Brooklyn, encouraged the girls to recognize their inherent gifts and the responsibility they carry as a Friendship Circle volunteer. She stressed that the volunteers have the power to “reshape society’s perceptions, impact your circle of life and lead with the conviction that every individual has a unique gift worthy of giving.”

Special gifts were distributed to the High School seniors, whose involvement with Friendship Circle over the past four years has been immense. All the volunteers who dedicated their year to Friendship Circle received a beautiful sweatshirt, thanks to an anonymous donor.

Special thanks were given to Volunteer Coordinator, Rochel Karp and the school presidents of 5778, Tehila Leverton, Chaya Sherman, Sara Kayla Schneerson, Chaya Deitsch, Malki Laine, and Tova Sufrin for organizing such a beautiful event.

Photos: ANJ Photography

Torah Marks Boy’s Bar Mitzvah

Crown Heights residents Dovi and Racheli Chaimson have commisioned a new Sefer Torah to be written in honor of the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Baruch Schneur.

Family, friends and members of Friendship Circle Brooklyn participated in the ceremony held in the backyard of their home on Thursday, Lag BaOmer.

The boy’s uncle R’ Gershon Chaimson, a sofer stam, conducted the writing of the first letters in the scroll and invited community members to inscribe them.

The parents expressed their appreciation to all who came out to honor the occasion and celebrate with them.

The Torah will be dedicated to Friendship Circle. Some of its members were on-hand to participate in the dancing around the bonfire that followed the ceremony.

Parents Enjoy Get Together at “The Space”

Parents of children with special needs had the opportunity to get together for a relaxing evening at Friendship Circle of Brooklyn’s Social and Sensory Space. The space, home to FCBKLN’s inclusive Shabbos Minyan, After School Clubs, and other programs, was transformed into a beautiful dinner setting.  Strung along sparkling fairy lights were framed photos of children taking part in Friendship Circle’s programs, giving a classic vintage atmosphere to the room.

As parents began to walk through the door, soft strains of classical music was heard from the string duo seated at one side of the room.  At the other end of the room was a table laden with a buffet spread and wine and drinks bar.

As everyone sat down, Rabbi Berel Majesky, director of Friendship Circle of Brooklyn, said a few words of welcome and thanked everyone for coming.  He expressed how beautiful it was to see everyone come together to relax and enjoy the evening.  Rabbi Majesky noted that these get-togethers for parents of children with special needs is not simply a night out. For parents of children with special needs, getting together with other parents in a similar situation is something entirely special and unique.  When parents are blessed with a child with special needs, they can sometimes feel incredibly alone at first.  However, meeting and speaking with others who are going through something similar can be the greatest source of strength. Rabbi Majesky then concluded by thanking everyone for coming, for by attending, the parents themselves are the ones who ensured the success of the event!

Next, mentalist Gary Ferrar took the stage.  He entertained the crowd with his witty remarks and clever mentalism, calling up many willing (and unwilling!) participants!

It was a truly magical evening, and a night to remember.

Thank you to Mushki Tenenbaum and Esther Begun for organizing the event.  Thank you to the Friendship Circle of Brooklyn Parent Committee for working hard to make everyone feel invited and welcome.

Photos by Michael Mason