Dear Hallie,  

To say that I’m sad our time hanging out through FC is over would be an understatement. You are so kind, funny, smart, beautiful, caring, cool, fun, awesome, bright, strong, brave, AND SO MUCH MORE! Over the past four years, when we are together, whether at the JCC, starbucks, your house, or a friendship circle event, we have had the most amazing time and we have created so many memories. Here is just a list of a few of my favorites …  

  • Challagrams  

  • When we got to hold and pet all the animals at FC holiday events  

  • Cooking circle  

  • Sports circle  

  • Music circle 

  • Playing uno at starbucks  

  • Walking around the track at the JCC 

  • Getting to say hi and see Yaffa and our other friends   

  • Doing all different types of arts and crafts like sticker books, friendship bracelets, challah covers, drawing, etc.   

  • Listening to music and creating playlists 

  • Playing games  

  • Watching liv and maddie and doing jeopardy through zoom (#quarantine) 

  • Talking and just catching up about life  


Hallie, I truly can’t thank you enough for making Sundays the best day of each and every week! I love you so much and while I may be going off to college, the second I get back to CT we will be hanging out and seeing each other!! Have the most amazing summer, I love and miss you already!! Thank you for everything but most importantly thank you for being you and your incredible self - I could not imagine the past four years without you ♥️ 

XOXO, Shoshana  

PS. Bow bow girls for life!  

Dear Jacob

You’ve been my Friendship Circle friend for so long, and I cannot believe that you are graduating and going to college in the Fall. I will miss you a lot. 

When I think about all that we have done together over the years, I have many happy memories.  

You and your family were there for me at my Bar Mitzvah celebration in the summer of 2021.  And even before that, you helped me to complete my Bar Mitzvah project by helping me sell lemonade at my lemonade stand at Music Circle in May 2021.  

You also helped me to get through some really tough times back in 2020 when the world shut down for the COVID pandemic, meeting with me via Zoom. You were one of the only friends I had to share things with when we were all locked in our homes for all of those months. 

Throughout the years, you and I have had so many wonderful times at FAH and special happenings like Music Circle, Sports Circle, Tennis Club, and Cooking Circle. I will never forget these times. You always have made me feel happy and accepted and you have taught me so much! 

I wish you nothing but the best as you graduate high school and start college, and I hope that we can somehow stay in touch. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity to be your friend and learn about our Jewish faith and how to be a good friend to all. 

Your Friend,  Keighan

Dear Keighan,  

These past five years have gone by far too quickly. I remember the times we ran around the track, had your bar mitzvah, and raised money for toys from the lemonade stand. I remember the time when we all jammed out on the drums and piano. I will always remember those moments when we were both growing up together. I miss you a lot at the University of Vermont, the place where I am going to college. You can always reach out to me to chat! Love you and miss you <3  

From, Jacob

Dear Aaron

We have had such a blast hanging out with you the past three years. We started on Zoom, with lots of super Tic-Tac-Toe, drawing, and conversations about sports. This year, we had so much fun seeing you at the JCC every Sunday, where you beat us in basketball (sometimes), never quite figured out how to play racquetball, and set record mile times on the bikes. We’ve loved getting to know you better and watching you grow. We’ll miss you so much next year and we are confident that your future is bright.  

From, Sam and Clara 


Hi Everyone. I hope you are all enjoying today's program and have had the opportunity to visit the different stations. It always warms my heart to come to a Friendship Circle program and see all of the participants and how they've grown, both physically and emotionally. Personally, I love seeing RJC growing more independent, happily working as the greeter with her mentors. Over this year I have seen her more comfortable in this role and actually smiling and having fun seeing everyone come in. Just try to sneak by – she'll nab you in a minute to be sure you have your nametag!

I'd like to share a little bit of our story as to why FC is important to our family.

As far as I know, Rachael does not know what being “Jewish” means. This is too abstract of a concept for her. So if she doesn't understand the concept of being Jewish, why does it matter to me that she is here and participating in FC? Until recently I would answer “I have no idea.” But something happened recently that has made me rethink this answer.

Rachel has her sleep routine at night and her wake up routine in the morning. At night, she showers, plays on her iPad, I brush her teeth, she gets a drink from the kitchen and we go to her room. Together we say the first line of the Shema prayer in Hebrew. Then we have a goodnight script we say every single night. Monday through Friday, in the morning, she will come in to bed with me once my husband is awake and moving. She will either hold my arm like it's a stuffed animal, take hold of my hand, or if I'm on my side facing away from her she will pat my back.

One day she had a very busy day and between her sleeping pill and the outdoor activity she must have been very tired. After she had her drink she went to her room but didn't wait for me. I went in just a few minutes later and she was asleep. The next morning, she came into bed with me, took my hand and said, "Say Shema with mommy?" We said Shema together, she was satisfied, and fell back to sleep. The simple request to say a prayer with mom - whether or not she knows it's a prayer is not the point - it's that she feels something when she says it. And she wants to say it with mom. And when she doesn't, she misses it.

So this started me thinking that maybe she does have an innate feeling of her Jewishness. The act of saying the Shema has some meaning to her or she would not feel the need to say it after missing it. Maybe it's a routine, but just maybe there is some spiritual comfort in it for her. She likes to watch “Barney” in Hebrew. She enjoys receiving an aliyah at our synagogue and lighting the Chanukah candles. She loves Friendship Circle events. Maybe these are her ways of expressing and living her own Jewishness.

I am sure that we all will have different feelings about this for our own children, but here's my take on it for my girl. I do not have the right to decide if she does or does not have an understanding of her Jewishness. If she does, it is probably not in the same way that I understand mine, but do any of us understand or experience this in the same way? There is something about participating in the holidays and various Jewish rituals that makes her happy. She enjoys Friendship Circle immensely. At the beginning of the year when the schedule of

events comes out she puts it right on our refridgerator. She loves being with the teen mentors when she comes here and I truly believe she understands the feeling of being accepted and appreciated for who she is. And isn't that pretty much the foundation of the Torah? Loving your neighbor as yourself and treating people the way you want to be treated? Really, what more could I want for her? She has her own understanding of being Jewish that I will never know because she cannot express it. But I believe with my heart and soul that she knows there is something special about the Shema, something special about going to synagogue, and something very special about Friendship Circle.

So to that end I am grateful to see you all here and being part of her Jewish experience. Shayna and Rabbi Shaya, all of the high school students, as well as the adults who help out at each program, thank you for giving Rachael and her peers the opportunity to feel Jewish – each in their own way.
~Donna Cohen


I never would have thought that spending one hour per week with someone could have such an impact on each of us individually. Dan and I created a special friendship with Gary, and it has strengthened over the course of this year. I noticed the effect that it has had on me when I found myself searching for Gary in the cafeteria one day just to say hello to brighten up my day; it worked. Additionally, whenever Dan or I are unable to spend our time with Gary, the other one has noted that each time, he has set up a bingo board and filled it out as if we were all there. I think that this shows the impact that Friendship Circle has on the volunteers and our friends. 
~Ben Alpert, Friendship Circle Volunteer 



...999 interlocking puzzle pieces create an image, with only one more piece needed to complete the picture. Once that last piece is put into place, there remains a feeling of joy and relief. With my friend Ari, a child with high functioning autism, finding the final piece was a struggle. We had been paired together for several months in The Friendship Circle's activities, yet they never seemed to spark his interest. Undeterred, I searched for the missing piece, seemingly lost forever. Finally the search ended in the form of a baby goat. The mobile petting zoo brought forth a new Ari. Sitting for well over forty-five minutes Ari smiled, shared, and stroked the baby goat. Soon after, with happiness I had never witnessed, Ari proceeded to wrap a nine-foot long snake around his neck, as I cheered five feet away.  
~Ben Shoham, Friendship Circle Volunteer


...we asked Jack if he was looking forward to having you come for a visit after Passover and school vacation had kept you and him apart for several straight weeks. He said, “yes, I miss them.” That might seem like an innocent enough comment for a typical 15-year-old, but for us, and for Jack, it was a huge breakthrough… the concept of “missing” someone was not something he had ever offered up on his own, and it showed a real consciousness of a relationship that had developed.
~Bruce Putterman, Friendship Circle Dad



I have found that the hour I spend on Sunday evening with Gary is one of the only times in the week that I'm able to completely forget about stress and school and truly have a good time, whether on a walk, doing a puzzle, or playing Disney Bingo. To be completely honest, the first couple of visits didn't feel as natural or comfortable as Danielle or I would have hoped, but since then every week it has been so amazing to see the change in Gary's interactions with us. The three of us have formed a really great bond that I know will only continue to get stronger week by week. 
~Friendship Circle Member



This past year has been a journey of growth and discovery for Gabe, Samuel and their friends, Dee, Gavi, Deena and Natana. You have shared in their high and low points, always understanding and accepting, taking it one day at a time. You have allowed them to joyfully be themselves – unfiltered –without demands. As a parent of two special needs children one learns to notice the little things. To those who look but do not see.. it may not mean much. But as Samuel and Gabe’s mother I see the change their friends have imparted on them… Samuel’s little smirk when Dee and Gavi come through the door… Samuel demanding that their names go on his monthly calendar on the days they are to come over.. when asked who are your friends the response is always Dee and “Gabi”. I see Gabe laughing gleefully as the girls try to keep up with him as he maneuvers through a building or on a walk. Never doubt what you mean to our children . They, Larry and I are proud to call you friend. 
~Mrs. Beth Slozberg-Widem, Friendship Circle Mom



If I told you the highlight of my school week was the weekend, or watching Gossip Girl on Monday nights, I would be lying. The highlight of my week is hands down the hour I spend hanging out with Erica. Going to Erica's house baking brownies, playing webkins, hide and go seek or creating an imaginary pirate ship have been some of the most influential and fun moments of my life. I cannot wait to spend another year filled with these experiences. 
~Jodie Salzberg, Friendship Circle Volunteer



Alex and Josh are great with Zachary! They call him by name, which is a good habit for him, and they ask him things. They compliment him, laugh at his jokes, and interact with him. They also tell him if he is getting carried away with something. In Zachary’s case, he needs role-models to show him how to interact with friends, and Alex and Josh are fabulous! Zachary looks forward to playing with them. 
~Jessica Borden, Friendship Circle Mom 



When I find myself in a bad mood I can always look back on the good memories I have had with Jamie and Paul. Without Friendship Circle my life at this point would be different and maybe missing something in it. Friendship Circle has continued to be a great thing for me, Paul and Jamie and I plan on continuing it throughout my high school career. 
~Jeremy Fishman, Friendship Circle Volunteer