Photos: Dr. Tzvi Bergstein
Girls from Machon Shoshanat Yerushalayim joined volunteers from Mayanot, MMY, Lindenbaum, and Amit at a Chanukah party hosted by the Friendship Circle of South Jerusalem, directed by Rabbi Avraham and Nechama Dina Hendel.
The hall at the community center in Baka, Jerusalem, was packed with children with special needs, their parents and siblings, and the devoted volunteers from the Friendship Circle, who visit these children weekly for hours of friendship and fun. Chanukah is one of highlights of the year, when the entire Friendship Circle community joins together. The warm, comfortable atmosphere and inclusion is appreciated by all.
A light dinner was served, and entertainment included menorah art, facepainting, interactive music, a talented balloon entertainer, and of course, the lighting of the first Chanukah candle.
“These girls are amazing!” was the enthusiastic feedback from grateful parents, who enjoyed seeing the dedicated volunteers showering their children with attention and love.
Having the extra assistance of the Machon Shoshanat Yerushalayim seminary girls, who traveled from Ramat Shlomo, was a huge asset. When being thanked by the shluchim, the girls responded, “What a perfect way to begin our Chanukah!”
This was the first year that the Matnas community center joined forces with the Friendship Circle, and it was a great success.
Chedva, the director of the special needs department at the Matnas, brought a group of adults with special needs to help volunteer at the program. One of these young men was chosen to light the menorah at the event.
Members of the Chabad of Baka English speaking community were very involved, as well. Dr. Tzvi Bergstein shared his talent for photography and captured magical moments. Michael Rose delighted the children with his engaging music, accompanied by his wife Tehilla. Miriam Garcias designed the invitation for the event, and Edith Rivka Levitt helped with preparations for the party.
Chabad of Baka is also called Beit Levi in memory of Rabbi Avraham Hendel’s brother Levi z’l, who lost his life eight years ago en route to Chanukah mivtzaim. Chanukah is an especially significant time for the community to mark Levi’s yartzeit and continue his legacy, by spreading light, unity, and joy.
The Friendship Circle party was a perfect way to do just that.
As Gaby Markowitz, an involved parent, shared with Nechama Dina Hendel at the end of the party, “This was the best Chanukah present we could have received!”