friendship circle

Weekend Retreat for Special Moms


Planning programs and outings for children with special needs is nothing unusual for the Friendship Circle of Montreal, but a recent weekend retreat for the mothers who care for these children proved to be an most amazing novelty.

The women were expecting a few days of respite and a relaxing getaway; they left with new sisters and a fresh perspective on their children, each other, and themselves.
The retreat, called “Shabbat at the Spa,” took place from June 3 to June 5 at the luxurious Tremblant Manor in Mont Tremblant.  Attendees enjoyed spa services on Friday afternoon, swimming, outdoor ceramic painting, and welcomed the Shabbat with a group candle-lighting ceremony. Women participated in a variety of Shabbat-oriented activities, throughout the following day, and ended Shabbat with a Havdalah ceremony and bonfire. 

The women came from different neighborhoods, lifestyles, economic circumstances and Jewish backgrounds. But none of those differences mattered when they joined together to talk about their lives and share their collective pain at having children with daunting challenges.
For many of the women it was their first time away in decades. It was amazing to see women with such different lives, yet so connected, as if they all were standing in the same place.

The spa treatment included in the package was only the beginning of the nonstop pampering the mothers received. Welcome gift baskets with monogrammed spa robes were followed by a continuous stream of treats throughout the weekend: pillow-soft spa socks, breakfast in bed, and candle holders. Each gift was accompanied by a printed card with an original poem.
The meals, including a complete Shabbat dinner, consisted of delicious kosher fare prepared by Blossom catering, served against a backdrop of magazine-worthy table settings. The menu included unique gourmet dishes, elaborate breakfast buffets and even a mid-afternoon ice-cream bar with all the toppings.

The weekend was special on so many levels—new friendships were made, women were strengthened and most valuable it was the beginning of a circle of support that was much needed in many lives. 

In between meals and snacks were enlightening and entertaining group activities. Small group discussions about various ethical issues, a lively energize stretching class, a pajama party complete with hilarious charades and delicious cocktails.  

The guest speaker was Mrs. Goldie Plotkin, a worldwide lecturer and a mother of seven including one with Downs Syndrome. She lectured on topics such as “Faith under Fire” “The Pursuit of Happiness” and “The Five Love Languages.” As a special mother herself, she spoke openly about her personal struggles and challenges and about Judaism’s beautiful perspective on individuals who have special needs. Through a mixture of Jewish teachings and personal stories, she empowered the women to view their children as perfect holy souls sent down to this earth to help us complete our mission. She challenged them and gave them tools to choose positivity and happiness.
The amazing group of women who attended shared openly, and bonded honestly and genuinely, the environment was imbued with an aura of out-of-this-world holiness.

Words like “life-changing,” and “awe-inspiring” were heard throughout the weekend, but the overriding sentiment was how refreshing it was to be with other women who “get it” in a way that even well-meaning friends and family members do not.
Mothers felt inspired to keep going amidst the chaos, celebrate the little milestones, and to appreciate all the amazing things their special ones do for the world and those who live in it. 


Everyone Meet Mikey


Everyone meet Mikey.
Mikey is such an awesome kid.
He loves to explore everything
Mikey loves his friends and is always trying to make them smile. 
He loves balloons, granola bars, & adores the alphabet and falls asleep to the rhythm of the bus. 
Mikey is like any other kid, 
he loves life and sees no difference between himself and others, 
some may look at Mikey and see a kid who is different, 
a kid who refrains from riding the rides in amusement parks, 
a child who is autistic.

But that is merely a typo for artistic.

For Mikey is far greater than that,
he is like any other child; 
growing with a fascination for the scents and sights around him
a kid who is merely trying to laugh and enjoy himself. 
Mikey is the child within every single one of us, 
it was such an honour to become his friend over the past two days at winter camp
Mikey, like anyone else at the friendship circle, is the reason that I train for this marathon.
His hugs, his blue eyes staring back at me with a mischievous smile, and the way he interacts with others makes me smile. 
He reminds me that we are all the same.

By Shira Perton 

Friendship Circle holds 8th Annual Hockey Tournament


On April 3rd Friendship Circle held it's annual Hockey Tournament at the Bill Durnan Arena for a crowd of over 500 fans. The exciting event raises community awareness and funds for the Friendship Circle. Players from various hockey leagues competed in from of an ecstatic crowd of friends, families and community supporters. Our highlight was the half-time talent competition where our special friends had a chance to shine on the ice and meet the players.  The Friendship Circle thanks it's generous sponsors,  dedicated volunteers, hockey players, DJ Mas-G,  MC TB1, Maestro Pizza CSL , the McGill Management volunteer crew, Photos By Mendel, and Shalom Seraff Arts!