Juggling and Magic and Lights, Oh My!

On the third night of Chanukah, juggling, magic and fire highlighted the celebration at LifeTown. Guests took part in a festive dinner at tables decorated with large candles, featuring glimmering gold and blue dreidels seemingly suspended inside in midair.

Parents relaxed together. Newcomers chatted with long-time families, all sharing tips and advice, as their children across the room giggled, watching a magician pull coins and pennies from his mouth and his beard, “swallow” a sword, and keep plates spinning on long sticks. Eventually, they would all light a giant menorah made of bowling pins.

Lisa Taitel started bringing her daughter Miriam, 19, to programs this fall from Highland Park. They love the culinary programs at LifeTown. “Miriam has a lot of interest in the kitchen, so it’s a perfect match. And everything is kosher!” said Taitel, who added that finding kosher food programs is nearly impossible anywhere else. “Being part of a community is also really important. We don’t have anything like this in Highland Park,” she said. Her daughter, beside her, often non-communicative, was involved in a conversation with a teen volunteer across the table. ”The fact that she’s responding – it’s unbelievable,” said Taitel.

Sitting nearby, Eric and Karen Schorr said their family came this evening over other community Chanukah celebrations. “Here, we never have to apologize or say sorry for our daughter’s behavior,” said Eric. “She can roam around and be accepted and treated by everyone respectfully here, so we feel very comfortable, very relaxed. We can all be together here.” What’s more, he said, at LifeTown, she also learns to treat others with respect. “She saw someone in a wheelchair tonight and opened the door for him. She is learning to give other people something special too.”

Bruce Fox’s daughter Robyn, now 33, volunteers around the community during the week, but she always comes back to the Friendship Circle, which she’s been a part of since its inception. The social programs at Friendship Circle are of particular value, Fox said, but he also comes for himself, to spend time with peers. “It’s great networking for parents to share experiences and advice,” he said. Across the room, Robyn clapped enthusiastically as the show came to a close. 

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