May 20, 2024
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Jewish Music Superstar Avraham Fried to Headline BC Friendship Circle ‘Heart to Soul’ Concert

On Sunday evening, May 28, the Bergen PAC in Englewood will be hopping to the solo concert by Jewish music superstar Avraham Fried. Celebrating his 40th year as a top artist on the Jewish music scene, Fried will entertain the audience with his uplifting musical productions, which by now have become classics of contemporary Jewish music. The concert also coincides with the year of Hakhel following the year of Shemitah recently concluded in Israel. The event will be one of thousands held in keeping with the exhortation of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt”l, to gather during this celebratory year in large assemblies and to unite Am Yisrael closer through Torah and acts of chesed.

One of the greatest acts of chesed that can be performed in a community is caring for its most vulnerable populations. For close to 20 years, the Friendship Circle of Bergen County, founded by Rabbi Moshe Grossbaum, executive director, and Zeesy Grossbaum, director,

has been extending a loving hand to local individuals with special needs and their families. They have worked tirelessly to create a warm and accepting environment for these individuals, ages 2 to 21, through a full range of social and Judaic programs. They join with 90 other Friendship Circles around the world that provide social, emotional and religious support to this special population.

To date, over 220 families across Bergen County have benefitted from the programs offered by the Friendship Circle. The FC Hebrew School, which takes place on Sunday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Yeshivat He’Atid, provides age- and ability-appropriate classes for children ages 3 to 21. Teachers focus on engaging the individuals’ sense of Jewish identity through exciting, hands-on learning programs and helping them learn about their priceless Jewish heritage. Of the 50 weekly attendees of the FC Hebrew School, half are supported through full or partial scholarships provided by generous donors. The upcoming concert hopes to raise the funds needed to include even more participants in the Hebrew School program as well as support all other FC programs.

The programs are held at different venues and are staffed by student volunteers from local yeshiva high schools The local yeshiva day and high schools have been most generous in opening their campuses to FC programs. On Wednesdays, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Yeshivat Frisch hosts FC teens and student volunteers for fun activities such as drumming and animal shows. When observing these sessions, it is hard to differentiate between the participants and the volunteers as they all seem to be fully immersed in the program.

Friendship Circle offers a summer camp during the last two weeks of the summer. Hosted at Lubavitch on the Palisades, the program features an array of fun-filled activities as well as field trips. Dedicated volunteers assist the children one on one and develop friendships they cherish for a lifetime.

Through Friends@Home, pairs of teenage volunteers visit participating children in their homes weekly, offering friendship and sharing activities. The Yedidainu Program coordinates programs in local schools on vacation days so that FC participants can be happily entertained when they are not in formal school programs. Jewish Holiday programs are held through Friendship Circle for participants and their families to lend excitement and enjoyment to the chagim.

The largest and most supportive fundraising event sponsored by Friendship Circle annually is the Friendship Walk. Supporters, including entire families, join in a morning of family fun and solidarity as they walk “an extra mile for a special child.” Held in early September, whether one joins as a walker or donor, participation helps bring laughter and hope to some truly special children. To date, over 1300 participants have been part of the yearly, much anticipated Friendship Walk.

Parents Rachel and Ben Shachar, who live in Paramus not far from the Grossbaums, expressed their highest accolades for Friendship Circle. Their oldest child, Aviv, now aged 14, began benefiting from the programs of Friendship Circle from first grade. The Shachars shared, “Friendship Circle has given our son Aviv a complete sense of belonging. At each event that he attends he feels full acceptance and no judgment. As a family, we feel supported and connected to the other FC families. Our daughter Lily, age 12, volunteers at the FC Hebrew School on Sunday mornings where she feels that she is contributing meaningfully to the participants. Her brother Aviv himself attends the Sunday Hebrew School as half a student and half a helper. We are overwhelmingly grateful to the Grossbaums for their dedication to the FC population and their families and are proud to be the highest team contributors to the annual Friendship Walk.”

Chairman of the upcoming concert is Teaneck’s Joey Bodner who has been involved in numerous community activities over many years. Avram Zamist, also a Teaneck resident, is serving as the producer and coordinator of the upcoming concert. He has been involved in the Jewish music world for some 22 years, as a producer of music albums for Benny Friedman and Mordechai Shapiro among others, and composing original works for many of the well-known Jewish music stars. Zamist is excited about the upcoming concert, partly because it is bringing Avraham Fried back to Bergen County after approximately 30 years and will be a celebration of his 40 years of making magical music. Zamist also shared that he is a great admirer of the work of Friendship Circle and the Grossbaums. He is particularly impressed with their ability to create a core of young volunteers from the local Jewish schools who are enacting the highest levels of chesed through FC, middot that will hopefully remain with them as they grow into adulthood.

The offices of Friendship Circle are located at 385 Willard Road, Paramus, NJ 07652. For further information and to sign up for programs call 201-262-7172.

Tickets to “Heart and Soul: A Musical Evening With Avraham Fried” to be held on Sunday evening, May 28, at 7 p.m. at The Bergen PAC of Englewood, are available at FCConcert.com.

For VIP and sponsorship packages email [email protected]. There will be a VIP Event before the concert.

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