Posted by Sandy Slavet

Shabbat dinnerShabbat should be welcomed each week with friends and family, candle lighting, Kiddush, challah, a delicious meal, singing, and the joy that all of this brings. Without any of this, it just wouldn't be Shabbat. On Friday, February 15, the 80 participants of JF&CS Chaverim Chaim (Friends for Life) had all this and more at their Shabbat dinner hosted by JF&CS at our Waltham Headquarters: the friends, the ceremony, the meal, the singing, and the joy. Thanks to funding from Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), JF&CS was able to provide it all!

But it isn't easy to host a wonderful Shabbat dinner for 80 friends. It was a special treat for us to have 10 wonderful volunteers from CJP's Young Leadership Division Hands-On Philanthropy help set up, serve, join folks around the tables for dinner, schmooze, sing, and, of course, clean-up. As is often the case, it's hard to determine who benefits more, the volunteers or the participants. As is often the case, this night was a tie! Bryanne Mahoney, Development Officer for CJP's Young Leadership Division, shared:

"Thank you so much for such an amazing opportunity to volunteer with your program at the Shabbat dinner last Friday. Our volunteers absolutely loved the experience and are already asking how to get more involved."

Chaverim Chaim is a monthly social group for adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The program is jointly led by JF&CS Services for People with Disabilities, Jewish Community Center of Greater Boston Special Needs Services, and Jewish Big Brother Big Sister Friend 2 Friend Program. Each month we host a different program that allows participants to experience various aspects of Jewish life including holiday celebrations, crafts, food, Shabbat, and more. Equally as important, these events help participants connect with friends.

We are grateful for the support from CJP's young leaders who volunteered last week and helped JF&CS welcome Jewish adults with disabilities into Jewish life – exactly where they belong!

For more information about JF&CS Chaverim Chaim (Friends for Life), contact Sandy Slavet, Director, Jewish Life Services for People with Disabilities, at or 781-693-5640.

Sandy SlavetSandy Slavet is the Director of Jewish Life Servies for People with Disabilities. Sandy works with CHAI and CHAI Work participants providing social, educational, and Jewish programs including Shabbat and Jewish holiday celebrations as well as participation in community activities at local synagogues and other community locations. She also leads several social programs for adults with disabilities including Chaverim Shel Shalom, Chaverim Chaim (Friends for Life), and Jewish Signers of Massachsetts. Before coming to JF&CS in 2001, Sandy was an ASL Interpreter in private practice. Sandy is active in many community organizations and is an active member of her synagogue. Most importantly, she and her husband, Joe, have four wonderful daughters; her youngest daughter, Marie, is a beautiful 25-year-old who happens to have Down Syndrome.