It was an ordinary Wednesday night, when athletes from all across the country logged on to Zoom for a virtual event.
The experience was one-of-a-kind even for Team Friendship, which hosts many spectacular events each year. A generous donor was so inspired after reading the book Inclusion and the Power of the Individual by Rabbi Ari Sollish, that he donated 500 books to Friendship Circle International to further spread the message.
“Though the book is small in size, the powerful message it portrays can have a very large impact in making our communities more inclusive,” said Mendel Groner, Director of Friendship Circle international.
The Friendship Circle team wanted to take the generosity of the donor further. As Team Friendship Alumni across the country received the book in the mail, Mendel Groner got in touch with Rabbi Ari Sollish and Dr. Sara Kranz, Director of Friendship Circle of Richmond, Virginia. In a short time, they arranged to take the message of the book from the reader’s room to a Zoom. A live discussion with the author as well as an open Q+A session moderated by Dr. Kranz was hosted on 11 Nissan celebrating the Rebbe’s birthday.
The book, which shares the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s perspective on inclusion and the unique mission of every individual, brought Team Friendship members together to continue the conversation they typically have at in-person events, but which had been put on hold due to Covid-19.
“Participants of our endurance fundraising events learn about Friendship Circle and often become strong advocates for the cause,” Groner explains. “While we weren’t able to meet in person this year, this virtual event was one way to continue the conversation and keep the inspiration going.”
As Team Friendship alumni trickled into the Zoom meeting, the conversation turned into one centered on improving inclusion within our communities.
“Being someone from the Chabad movement which promotes inclusion of all Jews, how did that influence the discussion of inclusion as a whole?” asked interviewer Dr. Sarah Kranz, PT, DPT Director of Friendship Circle of Richmond, VA and moderator of the event.
Answered Rabbi Sollish, “Chabad has always been radically inclusive of all Jews and this book shows how to bridge from spiritual inclusion to physical inclusion from the Rebbe’s teaching.”
“I read the book twice,” shares Ethan Stein, a longtime Team Friendship volunteer and athlete, “From the conversation with Rabbi Sollish, I gained a better understanding of what inclusion truly means and how we as individuals can effect change in our communities,” In line with the donor’s intention when sponsoring the books, the Zoom event has been converted into a powerful two part podcast that you can listen to here.