Shabbat at the Spa 2016: Mom’s Weekend Getaway

On the weekend of March 4, 2016, 45 mothers of children with special needs went on a weekend getaway of inspiration, respite and pampering during the third annual Shabbat at the Spa weekend, a special getaway weekend that all mothers deserve during the year.

Recharge The Batteries

The purpose of the Shabbat at the Spa weekend is for women to escape the stress of daily life and regenerate their minds, bodies and spirits to align themselves once again and return to their families with batteries recharged and a renewed positive outlook on the future. Without this kind of escape, the struggles of daily family life can wear mothers down, which can weaken the family unit.

“Moms come from all different walks of life, ages of children, kids with different types of challenges, but there’s an end of the line bond that they all share in that no matter where they come from that they share something so uncommon that they understand each other’s plight. The moms in this group just ‘get it’ whereas the rest of the community may not.” – Sarah Schectman, Family Coordinator at Friendship Circle of Michigan and hostess of Shabbat at the Spa.

shabbat at the spa 2016

Sponsored by a grant from the Jewish Women’s Foundation and the Applebaum Family Compass Fund, this year’s weekend took the moms to Sawmill Creek resort near Sandusky, Ohio and offered respite and workshops for mothers of children with special needs.

Guest Speakers

This year’s special guest speakers were Goldie Plotkin and Raizy Metzger.

Goldie Plotkin is a co-founder of Chabad Center in Markham, Ontario, and is also the director of Torah Tots Pre-School and also runs a learning program in Toronto called Women and Wisdom. As a mother of eight children (one which has special needs), Plotkin offers a unique skill set and experience to the Friendship Circle mothers that attended the weekend getaway.

Raizy Metzger is a co-director of Chabad center and Chabad preschool for local family in New York and teaches classes for women and other educational initiatives.

The two guest speakers participated fully in the weekend while also hosting workshops and talks as well.

The Weekend Rundown

Spa services were offered throughout the day on Friday, programming started at 4pm on Friday afternoon and went through to Sunday afternoon.

Planned activities included workshops that covered getting to know yourself, happiness, soul searching, relationship discussions, meditation, round table discussions, sharing personal experiences and learning love languages within relationships.

The weekend offered a great combination of moms connecting with other moms, adding the social component of networking to their daily lives and moms getting an opportunity to relax, get some respite and be pampered. There are three divisions planned for the weekend: social, respite and inspiration from guest speakers, all of which allows moms to “refill the tank” to keep the boost through the year.

The Three-Pronged Approach

Inspiration: Refilling The Tank

From inspirational point of view: refilling the tank, A lot of workshops focus on self-discovery and being in tune with souls and who we are, also understanding our children better with a big focus on the siblings of children with special needs. Messages were also about relationships with other people like marriage, children and self. There was a lot of talk about dealing with people outside who don’t understand and how to educate the community and how to deal with the insensitivity and ignorance of the surrounding community. Focus was also given to prayer and mindfulness.

Pampering And Respite

Every mom was given complimentary spa service on Friday with a choice of massage, facial or manicure. A four-course gourmet dinner focusing on the “power of women in the home” consisted of custom wooden chargers with word collages with words that their families used to describe them. Each mom received a welcome package in their hotel rooms that contained their favorite snacks based on suggestions from their family members.

shabbat chargers 2016

Every time moms visited their hotel rooms, there were gifts waiting to be given to them as well. “Paint your pop art” was an activity that contained a family photo that was painted in a “pop-art” style. Each meal was catered and set up beautifully by kosher caterer Milk & Honey. Breakfast in bed was also served on Saturday morning.



Lots of opportunity was provided this year for moms to share during round table discussions. “TEN talks” were hosted by moms with older children with special needs sharing experiences dealing with what they’ve learned and how to share their inspiration with the other moms.

The end of the weekend culminated with a circle where everyone shared what inspired them over the weekend and how the new relationships developed gave a greater sense of belonging in the special needs community. Many of the moms shared how they gained inspiration from their peer moms and not just the guest speakers organized for the event.


For media inquiries, please contact Melanie Barnett at [email protected].

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