Counting Our Blessings


Published: Friday, May 30, 2008 12:47 AM EDT




Kvelling at Friendship Circle event are, from left, co-chairs Helene Gelb, Jennifer Dinner, Joseph Mandel and Rabbi Yossi Marazov.

The Friendship Circle’s annual reception at Landerhaven reverberated with displays and videos of commitment, dedication and enthusiasm as it honored “our 245 teen volunteers while counting our blessings.” The evening, attended by 550 diverse community supporters, was in a class by itself: inspiring, loving, noble and heartwarming, sparked with an opening blessing by black-bearded, high-spirited Rabbi Yossi Marozov, the group’s founding executive director.

Mistress of ceremonies Ilene Savin poignantly described how her severely retarded granddaughter Lindy, now 21, who has never uttered a word, at last has a friend who visits her and cares about her. Dynamic guest speaker Duncan Wyeth of Michigan, born with cerebral palsy and who holds two college degrees, energized the audience as he shared his insights into the ways we can value differences among people.

Heart of the evening was program director Estie Marozov’s presentation of the prestigious Donald J. Goodman Fellowship Award to 56 teen volunteers who excelled in their commitment. Adding to the excitement, seven teenage school presidents from different suburbs carried bags of multicolored jawbreaker gumballs representing volunteer hours and emptied them into the massive six-foot-tall, red-and-white outdoor thermometer. At evening’s end, the thermometer overflowed with 6,780 hours of friendship in 2007. Yasher koach (congratulations) to the remarkable Friendship Circle and its ever-growing, energetic teen volunteers from every corner of our Jewish community who are enriching their own lives by befriending children with special needs.