When • • •
Expanding The Circle
From the pages of the Jewish News for
this week 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60
Detroit's Friendship Circle inspires upstart projects throughout North America.
grown to serve 140 families who have
children with special needs, with a
Special to the Jewish News
volunteer corps of more than 350.
"It's unbelievably meaningful to see the
f Rabbi Levi and Bassie
impact you have on people's lives, espe-
Shemtov had their way, the
cially the teens — their outlook, their
Friendship Circle they began
their appreciation for life," said
eight years ago in the metro
Rabbi Grossbaum. "This program brings
Detroit area will grow wide enough to
Jewish families of all sects who have been
circle the world ... and back again.
isolated back into the community."
And if the enthusiastic group that
According to Rabbi Grossman, the
gathered on Dec. 17 is any indication, it
rate of nonaffiliated Jewish families is
might not be such an impossible dream.
higher among those who have chil-
More than 40 people representing
dren with disabilities.
19 cities throughout the United States
Although the Friendship Circle is a
and Canada met with the Shemtovs
Lubavitch-sponsored organization, 80
and other Friendship Circle staff
percent of the volunteers are from non-
members at the Shul-Chabad
Orthodox families; and families of all
Lubavitch in West Bloomfield to learn
are eligible to participate.
how to begin and develop similar pro-
Circle name was
grams in their respective
trademarked in order
to ensure 'quality con-
Five cities already have
trol' and a sense of
established Friendship Circle
programs: Livingston and
Manalapan, N.J.; Columbus,
Because of the suc-
Ohio; Stamford, Conn.; and
of the Detroit-
Montreal; and a program is
based program, the
currently being started in
requests for assistance
"I'm here to learn whatever I
and advice on a regular
can — from the Shemtovs,
which they freely
who've been running such an
to Jewish and
amazing program for so many
years," said Esther Grossbaum,
starting Friendship Circle programs in other cities.
a coordinator of the Toronto
"It's quite amazing
how altruistic they are," said Rabbi
The key to enlisting volunteers is to
Detroit's Friendship Circle, which
Sholom Deitsch of Fairfax, Va. "This
promote the Friendship Circle to the
began in 1995, provides a variety of
is truly a model program."
programs for children with physical
Malya Shmotkin, program director
and mental disabilities and their fami-
for the Friendship Circle in Stamford,
"Make it 'cool' to get involved," she
lies, including in-home volunteers, a
was pleased with the seminar. "It's
said. "Find the popular girl in each
Sunday drop-off program, a winter
great to bounce around everyone's
group and connect with her, show her
camp, sports and life skills programs
ideas. I've gotten a lot of support and
how she can make a difference; then
and various other activities throughout
reinforcement today," she said.
the year. The program serves about 150 watch her spread her wings."
"When something works this well,
families with about 400 volunteers.
a validation of your idea and the
An additional program also helps
need you've identified," Rabbi
year, and current volunteers are
people with addictions.
Shemtov said. The Friendship Circle
encouraged to invite their friends.
The Friendship Circle is currently
Partnering with other Jewish organi- has the potential to revolutionize the
building facilities adjacent to the Shul
zations, such as the local Federation, is way the Jewish community views peo-
on the Lubavitch Foundation's
ple with special needs."
important, said Rabbi Zalman
Campus of Living Judaism.
For more information about services
"With the established Jewish agen-
volunteer opportunities with the
cies, there's a lot of bureaucratic red
local Friendship Circle, contact (248)
wife, Toba. With the help of the
tape," said Fraida Estrin of Pittsburgh,
Shemtovs, the Livingston program has
where a program is in the planning
stages. "Things don't just sprout. The
Friendship Circle is different; this is
an organization that just does it."
Estrin's daughter, Nechama, a senior
in high school, accompanied her to the
meeting. "I have friends who volunteer
with Detroit's Friendship Circle, and
they always call and tell me how won-
derful it is. It's inspiring," she said.
The daylong seminar, provided by
the Shemtovs at no cost, began with
informational and brainstorming ses-
sions. After lunch, two breakout ses-
sions were held: one on how to
obtain funding for the programs
through grant-writing and communi-
ty public relations; and the other on
how to recruit, motivate and main-
tain volunteers, the key component
to the program's success.
A year after its bombing, more than
5,000 guests attend the re-opening
of the Jewish Community Center
in Zagreb, capital city of the former
Yugoslav Republic of Croatia.
Some 500 Greek Jews gather out-
side the German Embassy in
Athens to protest rising neo-Nazism
The Yale University Video Archives for
Holocaust Testimonies is inaugurated.
The Jewish Center presents "Jews
from Konkan," a traveling exhibition
from the Nahum Goldmann Museum
of the Jewish Diaspora in Tel Aviv.
The American Jewish Congress and
the Union of American Hebrew
Congregations call for an immedi-
ate cessation to renewed mass
bombing of North Vietnam.
The United Nations charges the
USSR with forming a plot to make
Jewish citizens scapegoats in "eco-
nomic crimes" charges.
A gift from the Samuel Frank
family will make possible construc-
tion of a new medical library build-
ing at Sinai Hospital.
Israel is . plagued by the flooding of
roads and bridges, causing some
buildings to collapse.
Central Overall Company and
Sam's Inc., both of Detroit, start
payroll deductions to purchase
The Standard Club at the Book-
Cadillac Hotel in Detroit has set
aside Sunday nights for USO parties.
Detroiter Sidney L. Alexander,
Robert J. O'Connell of Highland
Park and Norman F. Mohr of
Muskegon receive commissions as
second lieutenants at an army bom-
bardier school in Texas.
— Compiled by Holly Teasdle,
archivist, the Leo M Franklin
Archives, Temple Beth El