Englewood Community Hosts Memorable Chai Lifeline Shabbaton  

Chai Lifeline’s annual Friends and Fun Shabbaton took place on May 17-18, bringing together 63 girls impacted by pediatric illness, over 150 dedicated volunteers, and the wonderful women of the Englewood community. The committee included Rivka Gordon, Deborah Berger, Jodi Cohen and Lori Schlackman, a group that has worked together on this Shabbaton for the past 12 years. This powerful weekend not only provided joy but also fostered a deep sense of unity and support among all participants. 

The committee behind this meaningful initiative worked tirelessly before the weekend to ensure the hosts, programs, and meals would bring happiness to everyone in attendance. Their efforts were instrumental in creating an environment where participants could connect and uplift each other. 

The weekend began with a pre-Shabbat welcome activity at East Hill Synagogue, aimed at building greater connections among high school girls and the community. Following this, an uplifting davening and dinner were held at Congregation Ahavath Torah. On Shabbat morning, Efrat, who was born with spina bifida, shared her inspiring story of strength and resilience, touching everyone with her courage. “What I have come to learn is that my experiences make me who I am today,” she shared.  Even if I could have gone back and changed my life, I would not change a thing. I have become comfortable with who I am and the challenges that mark my life, and I mean it when I say that this very annual Shabbaton has played a major role in my journey.”  

After a communal lunch, attendees enjoyed an afternoon tea at the Parker family home, featuring a magician and open to all women in the community. This event provided a perfect setting for laughter and camaraderie. Later in the afternoon, Blimi shared her remarkable story of beating the odds after being given a one percent chance of survival, closing with her powerful message: “I changed in a whole lot of ways and I’m glad to be the person I became. It is abundantly clear that Hashem was with me and my family throughout this journey. Never can I stop thanking Him for all the good he does for us and all of Klal Yisroel.”  

Batsheva then spoke about her cancer journey and finding light in the darkness. She reflected on how after her diagnosis, Chai Lifeline showed up and how “I understood that I was surviving the unthinkable. Instead of worrying about the worst thing that could happen, I found that the worst HAD happened…and I was okay. I had care, love, and support. And I no longer had to plan for the worst case anymore because I was thriving.” 

The weekend culminated in a musical havdalah ceremony followed by a DJ dance party that was open to the women and girls of the community.  

This Shabbaton was more than just a weekend program; it was a testament to the strength and spirit of the community, demonstrating how coming together can bring hope and joy to those facing challenges. Chai Lifeline extends its heartfelt gratitude to everyone who participated and contributed to making this weekend an unforgettable experience. 

Chai Lifeline is an international support network, providing social, emotional, and practical assistance to children, families, and communities impacted by medical crises and trauma through a variety of year-round programs and services. Learn more at www.chailifeline.org.      

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