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Friday, April 16, 2021
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(Courtesy of Friendship Circle) Wow, could Friendship Circle have been any busier this Chanukah? Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and people staying home more, Friendship Circle and the families it serves were anything but isolated this year. Thanks to the Friendship Circle staff and an incredible team of volunteers, Chanukah 2020 was a truly joyous holiday!

Here’s how FC rocked the Festival of Lights:

8. Menorah Car Parade. This perennial favorite took on a new dimension as dozens of cars and motorcyclists joined in the ultimate socially distant event. With police escorts, the car parade illuminated the darkened streets of Morristown, Whippany, East Hanover, Livingston and West Orange on the first night of Chanukah.

7. Virtual Menorah Lighting. For those who didn’t want to venture into the cold, dark night on the first evening of Chanukah, a virtual menorah lighting brought dozens of families together via Zoom. There was plenty of waving and catching up with friends, while listening to the recitation of the blessings over the candles and singing Chanukah songs.

6. The Chanukah Fun Truck. FC brought Chanukah entertainment to some 100 families with a box truck that was retrofitted as a mobile holiday party. Inside the truck, children played VR games, learned about the holiday thanks to a large dreidel display, enjoyed arts & crafts activities and tasted some festive treats. Kids also received an instant souvenir, a picture of themselves with Judah the Maccabee that was printed on the spot!

5. Cooking Workshops. What is more delicious on Chanukah than the smell of fried oil and fresh, yummy treats? Friendship Circle provided the prepared ingredients, while the LifeTown kitchen provided just the right backdrop for the fun! Special workshops were held for FC families and teen volunteers. A special parents cooking event with bestselling cookbook author Susie Fishbein helped cap off the cooking series.

4. Chanukah at Home. Friendship Circle provided hundreds of Chanukah kits with candles, menorahs and other holiday staples to anyone who needed one. This was in addition to the 400 Chanukah and Shabbat-at-Home kits for the homebound elderly and anyone who is still isolated due to the pandemic. The Chanukah and Shabbat kits included all the materials for Chanukah along with challah and kiddush.

3. Saturday Night Storytime and Scavenger Hunt. Friendship Circle families enjoyed a Zoom scavenger hunt that sent kids rushing around to find items like gelt—chocolate or otherwise. Once the hunt was over, the children settled down to listen to a reading of the book “If the Candles Could Speak,” which they had received as a part of their Chanukah package and the Winter Fun Survival Kit.

2. A Musical Concert. There was a whole lot of shakin’ going on as the Jewish band 8th Day performed some of their greatest hits on the jumbotron set up in the LifeTown parking lot. Families watched the fun from their cars and were also treated to hot latkes, donuts and hot dogs.

1. SNOW!!! OK, technically Friendship Circle did not arrange the weather; however, the snowstorm provided the perfect opportunity for FC families to test out the Winter Survival Fun Kit they got just a few days before! The kit contained a sled stuffed with goodies including a winter hat, scarf, blanket, s’mores-making kit, snow-sculpting tools, games and more!

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