To culminate another productive year of special friendships and services, the Friendship Circle of South Jerusalem hosted a barbecue and interactive petting zoo.
The event took place at the Tayelet in Jerusalem, a beautiful promenade overlooking the Old City, and included a petting zoo with 17 fascinating animals. The guide who brought the animals shared intriguing facts about the different animals, and allowed the children to pet, hold, and interact. It was amazing to see the children’s smiles, to hear their delighted laughter, and to witness the therapeutic effect that the petting zoo had on the children.
Servicing the community since 2011, the Friendship Circle of South Jerusalem is directed by Rabbi Avraham and Nechama Dina Hendel and reaches out to children with special needs and their families. Services include home visits, volunteer training and parties, and fun and educational programs for the children and their families.
The devoted team of volunteers includes students from Mayanot, MMY, Amit, and Pelech. The volunteers stand out for their devotion, and the families are touched by their responsibility, commitment, and endless enthusiasm.
“I am very impressed with the Friendship Circle,” Rachel Maron shared, “The volunteers are outstanding.” Her daughter Ruti has been part of the Friendship Circle for a few years, and she now has a fan club of each year’s volunteers.
Hallie Lapides, a Mayanot alum who volunteered with Ruti last year, confided. “I feel like I gained even more from the visits than Ruti. The smile on her face and the feeling of happiness and fulfillment that I experienced each week made it a highlight of my seminary experience.”
Michael Rose, who led several interactive music sessions with the children and who hosted the Chanuka and Purim parties this year with his wife Tehilla, marveled, “There is nothing more rewarding than sharing my talents with these special children.”
A special highlight of last year’s barbecue was when Ashira Greenberg, a talented young woman with cerebral palsy, brought the book she had written “Don’t Judge by What You See”, to be read to the children. Ashira studied at the MMY seminary, and a Mayanot volunteer visited her weekly to help her with her chores. Ashira showed her appreciation by giving a copy of her brilliantly written children’s book to the Friendship Circle of South Jerusalem.
Most of the children in the Friendship Circle are younger, so seeing Ashira’s amazing accomplishments brought tears to the eyes of many of the parents and was a huge inspiration to all.
The Friendship Circle of South Jerusalem is grateful to the members of the Chabad of Baka community, who have helped support this special chesed, and specifically to Miriam Garcias for creating this video slideshow and to Tzvi Bergstein for his photography. You can visit www.chabadofbaka.com or [email protected] to become a part of the Friendship Circle of South Jerusalem.