Whirlwind Finish to 2014 at Friendship Circle

DSC09054!DSC09196As the !IMG_8733year comes to an end, most companies and organizations wind down their operations and head out for vacation. But late December was anything but quiet at the Friendship Circle, as the schedule was packed with Chanukah celebrations, Allie’s Winter Camp and a Mega Mitzvah Mania.

The festivities started on the second night of Chanukah at the New Jersey Devils Jewish Heritage Night as a group of 400 Friendship Circle families and volunteers enjoyed a night out at the Prudential Center. Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, executive director of the Friendship Circle, lit a giant menorah at the Rock before the !DSC09142start of !DSC09086the game. Throughout the night the Friendship Circle was highlighted on the Jumbotron and some of the money raised during the evening’s 50/50 Raffle was allocated to the Friendship Circle. Ryan Warter and teen volunteer Olivia Lefkovits rode Zambonis during the first intermission.

The Chanukah celebrations continued on Sunday, December 21 as dozens of families attended the annual Chanukah Wonderland at the Friendship Circle. Children decorated jelly doughnuts and made edible dreidels, while a magician amazed the youngsters with a show and his balloon creations.  There was also a moon bounce, numerous arts-and-crafts activities and a live demonstration of how to make oil from an olive.

Just a few hours later, the Friendship Circle and Chabad of Livingston helped shoppers at the Livingston Mall celebrate the fifth night of Chanukah with a menorah-lighting, doughnuts and more. Livingston Deputy Mayor Michael Silverman helped kick off the evening by lighting a large menorah in the center of the mall.

As Chanukah came to close, the festivities continued with a menorah-car parade. Some 50 cars all with large menorahs fastened to their roofs participated in the Tuesday-night ride that began at the Friendship Circle and wound its way through Livingston, Short Hills, Millburn and West Orange.

It wasn’t just Chanukah activities that kept Friendship Circle participants and the community at large busy.

More than 200 men, women and children came out on December 25 for Mega-Mitzvah Mania. Participants learned how to make challah – each person made two loaves, one for themselves and the other to share, they then filled Shabbat in Box packages for people who are in local hospitals and made Havdalah sets complete with hand-braided wax candles.

Then it was time for Allie’s Winter Camp, where 85 children with special needs and their siblings took part in a week of trips, activities and fun! They were joined by 200 teen and adult volunteers. Among the highlights of this year’s winter camp were trips to the Liberty Science Center, Diamond Gymnastics, SportsTime USA and Funtime Fitness Zone. The days were packed with a full array of programs including music, sports, arts-and-crafts, baking and more.

January looks to be equally as busy as we have Torah Circle, Teen Scene, Efshar Circle, MVP classes, Sports clubs and more – and that’s just this week!

Learn more about the Friendship Circle programs at www.FCNJ.com or call 973-251-0200.


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