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Chabad Center of Passaic County

  Phone: 973-694-4970     www.fcpassaiccounty.com

Email:  Jackie Gross    friendshipcirclewayne@gmail.com

Email: Ellyn Komito-Casey   fcpassaiccounty@gmail.com


March 12, 2018

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.

It may not be common knowledge, but most Jewish Holidays relate to the seasonal cycles of the earth. Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest, Chanukah sheds light on the winter darkness and most recently for Purim, we threw off our winter doldrums and let off a little steam to settle our cabin fever. Pesach is no exception. Pesach begins March 31st, with that we shall welcome Spring!

The calendar has been filled with exceptional events since our last newsletter.  We offered our first Paint Morning on January 21st.  The kids showed amazing artistic ability.  This program will definetly be scheduled again! On February 3rd, we held our first Friendship Circle Teen Bakery with proceeds in excess of $500.00!! All monies will be put towards bringing you more quality programs.  

Yoga continues to be a big hit so we scheduled two YOGA classes. Each class had very good attendance. In addition, we held a MLK Day and a Presidents Day camp. Kids enjoyed crafts, music, lunch and socialization for the day.  

On March 6th we had a very informative speaker/attorney speak to a group of parents about Medicaid, SSI and other important entitlements.  This was very well received and we we plan to offer additional informative speakers in the future.  

This past Sunday, Music with Tony came to The Chabad Center. The kids danced and sang along to many of their and our favorites.  

As Spring progresses we are planning for our Queen’s Tea. This is a beautiful afternoon honoring fabulous woman for their friendship and leadership. This year’s honorees are  Mrs. Jan Levitt; Friend of the Friendship Circle of Passaic County.  Mrs. Elissa Kaplan; Young leadership Award and  Mrs. Nancy Nabatian; Friend of the Chabad Center of Passaic County. We have a wonderful motivational speaker scheduled. Tzippy Lieberman will share her story of strength, courage, and hope. Join us on April 15th to get inspired by her personal stories and journey and become empowered with knowledge in many areas of life. Tzippy’s happiness is contagious and her life story is one that we can all take to heart and gain so much from.  Mark your calendar for Sunday, April 15th at 12:00 noon, at the Packanack Lake Clubhouse. 

We still have more programs planned such as a Model Matzah Bakery to be held on March 25th, 4:00 at The Chabad Center.  Come watch and participate in making your own Matzah.  Listen to the story of Passover and learn why Jews will eat unleavened bread during the Passover Holiday. 

On April 22nd we have our Swim Hour planned at the Wayne YMCA. 

Plans are already under way for our beautiful, annual, Volunteer Appreciation and Awards Dinner. This is always a wonderful evening honoring all our volunteers for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.  Without them, we could not run our programs.  Please mark your calendars and make a strong effort to join us the evening of June 4th.  Details will follow.   

Also in the news......Friendship Circle is participating in a Cell Phone Recycling Program.  This program is simple, easy, and a great way to reduce landfill waste while raising funds for Friendship Circle programing.  We have put 3 boxes in and around the Wayne area.  Simply visit one of the locations below and drop any used, broken or outdated phones in the boxes provided.  Please make sure you thank the merchant for their support of Friendship Circle. 

Urban Club Clothing Co.  1168 Hamburg Turnpike; Wayne

Vitalife's Beauty Outlet  461 US Highway 46; Fairfield

The Chabad Center of Passaic County  194 Ratzer Road; Wayne 

Please continue to check our Facebook page and your emails for more information on upcoming events.  If you ever have a question or concern, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Your Friendship Circle Team,

Jackie, Chani and Ellyn

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 Upcoming Events To Put On Your Calendar

3/25 Model Matzah Bakery at The Chabad Center; 4:00-5:30

4/15 Queen's Tea at The Packanack Lake Clubhouse; 12:00 Noon 

4/22 Swim Hour at Wayne YMCA; 3:00-4:00 

4/29 Art with Claire in Passaic; 2:00-3:00 

5/8 Mom's Night Out at The Chabad Center; 7:00-9:00 

5/27 Circus Arts in Passaic; 11:00-12:00

6/4 Volunteer Evening of Appreciation; 7:00 


January 8, 2018

Happy 20Chai!

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I hope this newsletter finds you all doing well in the New Year.  Why am I calling this New Year, 20chai? Many Jews refer to the number 18 as “chai” which in Hebrew means “living” or “life”.  Referring to the number 18 as “chai” is a good omen for life. May this 18th year of the new century bring us the strength and resilience we need to face all of life’s challenges.  May we all be blessed with courage to stand up for our convictions and compassion for others and may we be surrounded by love and support from those who are closest to us. 

The Friendship Circle was host to some really terrific events the last couple of weeks.  The annual Menorah Workshop saw our biggest turn out yet!  Thank you to the Home Depot of Totowa and our many volunteers that made this happen. Winter Camp 2017 was a huge success as well.  We had a great turn out of new Wayne campers. The positive feedback was outstanding.  We always appreciate your kind words!  Here's a comment received from a satisfied family: "Can I just tell you how much "L" loved camp today!!? He came out soooo happy!! He was excited and loved the music teacher!" Please feel free to give us your feedback on our Facebook page for everyone to enjoy.   

Let's all welcome our newest friends, Angelina, Anthony, Asher, Jeffrey, John and Louis!

The next couple of days we will be finalizing the schedule for the upcoming months.  Our plan is to bring new programs such as science, art, music and bowling for our Friendship Circle families.  These will be mixed in with your old favorites; swim and yoga.    

In addition to programing, we are going to try a new fundraising avenue.  Our plan is to host an online sale for our followers and their families to purchase delicious baked goods, which will be prepared by our special friends and volunteers. This will be a special "Teen Scene" event which will be opened to our High School volunteers and teen special friends.   Proceeds will go towards Friendship Circle to continue to bring you more quality programs.  Please email us your order for  Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, and Rice Krispie Treats.  Items will be sold by the half dozen. Our online orders will be open from the week of January 28th -February 3rd. Please let us know if you will be available to join us on February 3rd at 6:30 - 8:00 for a fun night of baking to fulfill all orders.

Please continue to check our Facebook page and your emails for more information on upcoming events.  If you ever have a question or concern, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Your Friendship Circle Team,

Jackie, Chani and Ellyn


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Upcoming events to put on your calendar

(Check back for confirmed dates, times and locations)

1/21 Art class at The Chabad Center 11:00-12:00

2/3 Baking Night for Online Sale 6:30-8:00

2/11 Yoga with Shirley at The Chabad Center 11:00-12:00

2/25 Bowling League (location and time TBD)

3/4 Yoga with Shirley at The Chabad Center 11:00-12:00 

3/11 Music with Tony at The Chabad Center 4:00-5:00

3/25 Model Matzah Bakery at The Chabad Center

4/8 Yoga with Shirley at The Chabad Center 11:00-12:00

4/15 The Queen's Tea at The Packanack Clubhouse

4/22 Swim Hour at the YMCA 

5/13 Mad Science and Pizza at The Chabad Center 4:00-5:30


November 20, 2017

"The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention"

As the leaves begin to change and the weather turns cool, we are all reminded that the month of November is a time for expressing gratitude. One of the many things we are thankful for here at Friendship Circle is the continued support from our friends, families, and volunteers. Thanks to you, we are able to service almost 60 families in and around the Wayne, Passaic and Clifton area. 

Based on the foundation of V'Ahavta L'Reacha Kamocha - Love your fellow as yourself, it is the Friendship Circle's mission to:

*Engage children and teens with special needs through a full range of experiences.

*Provide parents and families of children and teens with special needs with much needed respite and support.

*Enrich, inspire and motivate teenagers through sharing of themselves with others.

*Create a sense of responsibility and connection to the Jewish community for teenagers through educational and social opportunities.  

Our programs here at Friendship Circle are off and running.  We had two  Therapy Dogs, Ace and Bella, visit with our friends.  Ace, a black lab, is a champion in the agility and obedience dog world.  He showed us his many talents much to the kids, and the adult's excitement!  Bella is a therapy dog owned by our very own Friendship Circle Co-President, Brooke Taback.  Bella was a perfect friend to all.  We are hoping to bring both Ace and Bella, along with a couple of other therapy dogs, back to visit our friends again. 

Kids in the Kitchen was a new event held at The Chabad Center.  The kids learned about eating healthy and what are some healthy choices for snacks.  The kids and volunteers made Pita Pizzas with cheese and broccoli and then Energy Bites made with sunflower butter, oats, chocolate chips and honey.  Natalie from Shop Rite promises to come back again with more healthy recipes.

Wayne held their  Bricks 4 Kids on November 18th at The Chabad Center.  The theme of the night was “How Things Move”.  All the creativity made for some very hungry volunteers and their friends.  Pizza was served to all!

We are anxiously awaiting our  Menorah Workshop to be held on December 3rd at the Totowa Home Depot.  Please come by and join us anytime between 10:00am and 12:00 noon. This is an inclusion morning, bringing ALL children together for family time and a wonderful workshop.  Families will be building their own menorah while listening to traditional Chanukah music and enjoying delicious Chanukah treats.  All participants will go home with a Home Depot apron and their menorah's. 

December 9th 7:00pm – 8:00 pm is our evening of  Kids Music and Songs.

If not for our wonderful volunteers we would not be able to host these programs.  I would like to thank the volunteers that have attended our first couple of programs.  A lot of new, smiling, faces this year!

Anabelle V, Andrew G, Ava B, Becca C, Carly B, Connor L, Emily B, Emily G, Gabe K, Jill M, Max T, Rachel R, and Zackary L.

Please remember Friendship Circle is a great Mitzvah Program.  We could always benefit from any donations large or small. Already this year, we had a wonderful Mitzvah project carried out by Sammie T. and Carli I.  The girls collected over 200 coats from the community to be part of The Chabad Center and The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey's Mitzvah Day. Thank you girls for making someone a little warmer this winter and with much gratitude from those less fortunate.  

Your Friendship Circle Team,

Jackie, Chani and Ellyn

Our Coat Collecting Mitzvah Girls

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 Upcoming events to put on your calendar

12/3  Menorah Building Workshop at The Home Depot on Riverview, 10:00am-12:00 noon 

12/9  Kids Music and Song at The Chabad, 7:00-8:00pm

Winter Camp 2017 will be held on 12/26, 12/27 and 12/28. 


October 2, 2017

Fabulous Times Start With Fabulous Friends

Your friendship is a special gift.  Generously given, happily accepted, and deeply appreciated.  

We are so happy to report that over 95% of our families have been matched with at least 1 or more volunteers.  We are so fortunate to have two binders full of registration forms of volunteers waiting and wanting to be paired with a special friend.  It can be a juggling act at times, but when that match is made, it makes everyone's heart swell!  In addition to making matches, we are busy scheduling new programs to add to the calendar.  We are adding Kids In The Kitchen, Bricks 4 Kids and Music with Tony to the calendar this year. We will be holding the Chanukah Menorah Building Workshop at Home Depot as well. Yoga, Swim, and Sports will also be added to the calendar.  In addition, we are exploring once a month Therapy Dog visits.  If anyone has thoughts, comments, wishes, or suggestions as to what they would like to have on the calendar, please feel free to reach out to us. 

We had 45 volunteers in attendance at the Wayne Volunteer Orientation! Thank you to all of you who took the time to join us and #SeeItDifferently.  The Passaic Girls Volunteer Orientation will be on October 25th and the Passaic Boys Orientation will be November 11th.  

To our teenage volunteers and their families, THANK YOU for helping us to provide the social, therapeutic and respite programs for our special friends by volunteering your time.  You make it so that Friendship Circle can continue to provide companionship and mentoring for our special friends.

Please remember Friendship Circle is a great Mitzvah Program.  We could always benefit from any donations large or small.

Your Friendship Circle Team,

Jackie, Chani, and Ellyn 

Wayne Volunteer Orientation 9/25/17 

 Your 2017/2018 Wayne Volunteers


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 Upcoming events to put on your calendar

10/19 Therapy Dog Visit at The Chabad, 4:30-5:15 (Parents & Siblings please stay)  

10/25 Passaic GIRLS Orientation at Prima's Pizza, 7:00-8:00pm 

10/29 Music with Tony in Passaic/Clifton area.  Time and Location TBD

11/5 Kids In The Kitchen at The Chabad, 11:00am-12:00pm

11/11 Passaic BOYS Orientation at Prima's Pizza, 7:00-8:00pm

11/12 LEGO/Bricks 4 Kids in Passaic/Clifton area.  Time and Location TBD 

11/18 LEGO/Bricks 4 Kids at The Chabad, 6:00-7:30pm

11/26 Tentative Yoga at The Chabad, 10:30-11:30am

12/3 Menorah Building Workshop at The Home Depot on Riverview, 10:00am-12:00pm 

12/9 Music with Tony at The Chabad, 7:00-8:00pm


June 14, 2017

The Adventure


“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure.  There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” Jawaharla Nehru

As we take our summer break from Friendship Circle 2016/2017, our hope is that we played a special part in your adventure this year and you will allow us to continue to be a part of many more of your adventures.   Please feel free to reach out to us with suggestions for programs you would like to see for the 2017/2018 year.  Our lines of communication are always open.  While you are relaxing poolside or on the beach, or in your backyard, please feel free to drop us a line or maybe even a picture of you and your family enjoying some time together. 

On June 5th, we culminated the year with a wonderful evening of appreciation and awards.  It was a packed house of dedicated volunteers, families, speakers, sponsors, and friends.  It was a beautiful garden of friendship for sure!  We still have many certificates to hand out to those volunteers that were unable to attend the evening.  We will hold them for pick up in the lower level of The Chabad for a few weeks.  Please be sure to pick up your very well deserved certificate. 

Moving forward…..while many parents struggle with the often 7-10 day gap between the end of summer programs and commencement of the new school year – parents of children with special needs find this period especially challenging. The Friendship Circle is busy planning an End of Summer Camp so that children and teens with special needs can have their break transformed into an exciting camp experience, filled with activities, sports, and FUN!  Our phenomenal volunteers, along with our registered nurse, will be focused on encouraging the children’s participation and enjoyment under the guidance of our highly qualified staff members.  Join us August 28th – August 31st; 9:30am – 1:30pm at The Chabad Center of Passaic County; 194 Ratzer Road.  The cost per day is $20.00 and lunch will be served.  

Enjoy quality family time.  Be safe and be well.


Your Friendship Circle Team,

Jackie, Chani, and Ellyn 



12th Annual Volunteer Evening of Recognition

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Outstanding Senior Awards 

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Past Presidents Liz Hecht and Arnella Margolin with incoming Presidents Dovid Schwartz, Brooke Taback, and Emily Friedman.  Missing from picture, Kiki Arochas 

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2016/2017 Dedicated Friendship Circle volunteers with Rabbi Gurkov and Chani Gurkov

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Your Friendship Circle Team

Ellyn Komito-Casey, Chani Gurkov, Jackie Gross 

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  Upcoming event to put on your calendar

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May 1, 2017

The Journey  

I read a quote once and it has really stuck with me; “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it”.  This rings so true for me this year.  Having started working with The Chabad Center and The Friendship Circle this past August, I was thrilled to begin a new journey that I wasn’t sure where the destination would be.  I can honestly tell you that while we finish up this year and that being my "destination", I am 100% filled with joy! Thrilled with joy of planning many fun and successful events such as the Sports Series, the Swim Event, A Matzah Workshop, Karate, and Yoga.  In addition, we honored amazing women from the community at The Queen's Tea for their hard work and dedication to The Chabad Center and Friendship Circle.  Along this journey I have met amazing families that I  hope we may continue to provide support, companionship and mentoring for your children. 

As we wind down the year, we are busy planning our Volunteer Evening of Recognition to be held on June 5th.  We will be honoring our dedicated volunteers who brighten the lives of children with special needs through love and friendship. We will be honoring six Outstanding Seniors who with their longevity exemplify what it takes to be a Friends at Home Volunteer.  We have six volunteers to be awarded the New Volunteer On The Block award.  This award is for our first year volunteers who have gone above and beyond for their special friends.   In addition, we have our Special Award Of The Evening honoring our Mitzvah Madness Girls for their hard work and dedication holding a fundraiser to raise $1,500 for The Friendship Circle!  Our special speaker for the evening is Joseph (JB) Bensmihen, MSW, RG.  JB lives with cerebral palsy and was instrumental in changing laws for individuals with disabilities in Canada as a young boy.  He is currently an advocate for competitive employment for individuals with disabilities and was a candidate for the US House of Representatives from Florida.   

Look for your formal invitation to arrive in the mail shortly!  Please remember to RSVP to this event so we can save you a seat.  This is a semi-formal event. Salads, appetizers and an elegant dessert buffet will be served.

We will be holding a summer camp the last week of August.  If you or anyone you know are interested in attending or volunteering at the camp, please let us know.  

Your Friendship Circle Team,

Jackie, Chani and Ellyn 

Smiling Faces at The Queen's Tea


Mrs. Bella Mendel

Friend of the Friendship Circle of Passaic County 


Mrs. Staci Heske/Miss Jessica Heske

Young Leadership Award 


Mrs. Jennifer Metz-Langbaum

Friend of the Chabad Center of Passaic County 


Upcoming events to put on your calendar

May 21st YOGA 10:30am, lower level at The Chabad Center, Wayne

May 21st Music with Tony 2:00-3:30pm at Bais Yosef, Passaic

June 5th  Volunteer Appreciation Evening of Awards 7:00pm at The Chabad Center, Wayne 



March 13, 2017

Busy, Busy, Busy 


As I write this newsletter for March 2017, I am in awe of all the events which were planned for our Friendship Circle friends and families.  Even the Moms got a night out!

We finished our very popular Sport Series, we had our first of many Swim and Snacks Event at Spa 23, we started a self-defense and exercise series with Special Dragons, a Mad Science Pre-Purim Pizza party was planned and we provided some much needed "MOM" time at Art and Creations Pottery Studio. 

In the months ahead we can look forward to another Special Dragons self-defense and exercise class on March 19th, our first ever YOGA morning with Shirley Veale on March 26th along with a Model Matzah Bakery later that same day. 

A very special event presented by The Jewish Women’s Circle, The Queen’s Tea, will be held on Sunday, April 2, 2017.  This is a wonderful afternoon held at The Packanack Lake Clubhouse overlooking the beautiful Packanack Lake.  This year's  Royal Women are:  Mrs. Bella Mendel, Friend of The Friendship Circle of Passaic County;  Mrs. Staci Heske and  Miss Jessica Heske, Young Leadership Award; and  Mrs. Jennifer Metz-Langbaum, Friend of the Chabad Center of Passaic County.  The featured speaker is author, Judith Alter-Kallman.  She will be sharing her story of Holocaust survival as told in her book “A Candle in the Heart”.  You can pre-purchase her book at The Chabad for $20 and Judith will be available for signings at The Queen’s Tea. This event directly benefits The Friendship Circle. 

I am thrilled to introduce to you our Mitzvah Madness Girls.  A few of our volunteers were playing in the All Star game recently at The Wayne PAL when they held a Mitzvah Madness sale earning more than $1,100 which they donated to The Friendship Circle of Passaic County! Emily Bolson is a 12 year old at George Washington Middle School who has an autistic cousin and loves volunteering at The Friendship Circle.  Sydney Levitt (12) and Skylar Levitt (11) are at Schuyler-Colfax Middle School and learned about The Friendship Circle through their brother Zack who participates in The Friends at Home program.  When we asked Sydney Levitt what she likes about The Friendship Circle she said, "As much as it makes the kids feel good, it makes us feel happy when the kids are happy". Together with their friends Olivia Black (13) and Bella Black (11) they made bath bombs, vintage custom tees, held raffles, sold candies and baked goods during the game. The money raised will go toward providing many quality programs for your kids.  

We are so proud to have such fine volunteers in our program.  Words cannot express our gratitude. 

Please continue to check our Facebook page for more information on upcoming events.  I hope you feel connected with our Facebook posts and newsletters.  If you ever have a question or concern, please don't ever hesitate to reach out to one of the coordinators.  

"Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind."  Roy T. Bennett

Your Friendship Circle Team,

Jackie, Ellyn and Chani 


 The Mitzvah Girls donating the money they raised for The Friendship Circle to Rabbi Gurkov 


March 19th  Special Dragons Exercise 4:00-5:00pm at The Chabad

March 26th  YOGA 10:30am at The Chabad 

March 26th  Model Matzah Bakery  2:30-4:00pm at Bais Yosef in Passaic

April 2nd  Queen's Tea 12:00 noon at The Packanack Lake Clubhouse

May <TBD> Therapy Dog Visit at The Chabad

June 5th Volunteer Appreciation Night 7:30pm at The Chabad