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‘Love your fellow as yourself’
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‘Love your fellow as yourself’

Teen volunteer Jonathan Shafrir of Marlboro with his Friendship Circle friend, Ethan Drew of Monroe Township
Teen volunteer Jonathan Shafrir of Marlboro with his Friendship Circle friend, Ethan Drew of Monroe Township

Founded in Detroit in 1994, Chabad’s Friendship Circle was a pioneer in matching able-bodied teen volunteers with special-needs children and offering their families alternative Jewish learning and recreation programs.

The program was founded on the belief of “V’ahavta l’reicha kamocha” (“Love your fellow as yourself”), said Chana Wolosow, director of the program at Chabad Lubavitch of Western Monmouth County in Manalapan. She said the Friendship Circle is dedicated to creating a supportive Jewish community for special-needs children, their families, and teen volunteers, giving them the opportunity to unearth their potential.

The Friendship Circle also offers a program for high functioning special-needs adults, a weeklong winter break camp, and summer camp.

For the Goldberg family of Morganville, Friendship Circle offers much needed socialization for 12-year-old Joshua, and an opportunity for 15-year-old Robert to volunteer.

“It opens up a whole new world for Joshua,” said his mother, Randi. “In a world where there’s very little acceptance of special-needs children, this is a place where he is completely accepted and welcomed.”

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