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shabbat at the spa 2016

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.


MasterChef Moms Compete at Friendship Circle Mom’s Night Out

A special thank you to Andrea Birnbaum for photography of this event!

It’s not every night you get to compete and participate in a reality food competition! That is precisely what happened on Wednesday, January 20 for over 30 mothers of children with needs.

Friendship Circle arranges over 15 mom’s and dad’s nights out throughout the year which are designed to provide much-needed respite and relaxation to parents of children with special needs.

Wednesday’s event took the definition of a mom’s night out to a whole new level. The event, called MasterChef FC, was held at the beautiful Henry Ford West Bloomfield Demo Kitchen and featured delicious wine and salads for the moms to enjoy.

The Main Event

FC MasterChef Mom Contestants

Contestants from left to right: Melanie Maas, Deanna Granitz, Jennifer Moss, Lisa Labelle, Stacy Larson, Jen Lovy.

The main event featured a MasterChef-style contest where six moms were divided into three teams of two people each.

Competition among Friendship Circle moms was nothing short of fierce on Wednesday night when three teams of “chefs” squared off in Henry Ford Hospital’s Demonstration Kitchen for the chance to be crowned Friendship Circle MasterChef. This talented group of amateur chefs – and by talented, we mean they didn’t burn down the kitchen – had 30 minutes to wow a panel of celebrity judges with their culinary skills and creativity in the kitchen.

Moms Masterchef

Deanna Granitz removes the mystery box and reveals the ingredients she will use.

Each team was given a mystery box with multiple ingredients and instructions to use at least three of the ingredients. They were also given access to a stocked cabinet and the option to use salmon or chicken. As fellow Friendship Circle mom’s watched from the audience, the blue, red and yellow teams chopped, mixed, cooked and sautéed a unique signature dish. The results were nothing short of… unique.

FC Masterchef

The Judges

The Judges

To judge the contestants Friendship Circle brought in a trio of celebrity chefs with extensive experience in the Metro Detroit Area.

Hunny Benarroch

Hunny Benarroch
Hunny grew up in an observant Jewish family, where her cultural roots were expressed in the form of authentic recipes from Morocco, Israel, and Spain. From a young age, Hunny closely watched her mother prepare these dishes from scratch. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she began to recreate these dishes with her own approach, but still maintain classic flavors and techniques she had grown up with.
After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Business and Communications, Hunny decided to hone her culinary skills by enrolling in the Art Institute of Michigan’s Culinary Arts program.  This invaluable experience has allowed her to work with countless inspiring chefs, clients, and organizations. She strongly believes in the importance of sustaining life through eating well. She will be the Executive Chef of Friendship Circle’s Soul Cafe when it opens in the spring of 2016.

Hassan MusselmaniHassan Musselmani

Born in Detroit and raised in the Metro Detroit area, Chef Hassan Musselmani’s extensive culinary background and passion for food started as a young man in his family’s kitchen.

Working in the culinary world since the age of thirteen, Hassan has continued to gain knowledge and experience that has lead to his opening of several Metro Detroit venues and to being an integral part of the accomplishments of many popular local restaurants.

Hassan is currently competing on Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.

Brandon Schatko

Brandon Schatko

Brandon Schatko has extensive experience and is renowned as one of Metro Detroit’s top executive chefs.
After graduating from Wayne State in 2011, Brandon immediately assumed the role of executive chef and has developed and managed some of downtown Detroit’s finest restaurants.
Brandon has experience as an executive chef in a number of different environments including golf clubs, hotels and even assisting in the planning and execution of the Belle Isle Grand Prix, feeding 18,000 People.

The Dishes

The contestnts

Dish #1

Lisa Labelle and Jennifer Moss of the Blue Team, managed to impress the judges with their wildly imaginative presentation of salmon, fig couscous, stir fry and star fruit.

Dish #1

Dish #2

Melanie Maas and Denna Granitz of the Red Team, worked feverishly on their signature dish – a chicken slaw with peanut sauce. Like the Blue Team, they also garnished their plate with star fruit.

dish #2

Dish #3

Stacy Larson and Jen Lovy rounded off the competition as the Yellow Team.  Together, they prepared an Asian-inspired salmon and stir fry. This dynamic duo was the only team to prepare a dessert to accompany their entrée. Unfortunately, their chocolate covered strawberries failed to impress the panel of judges because one Yellow Team chef failed to realize the chocolate was unsweetened and in desperate need of sugar – lots of sugar.

Dish #3

The Winner

Despite the dessert debacle, the judges found the Yellow Team’s salmon the most palatable and well-presented dish of the evening.


Bonus Round

Little did the judges know that a surprise was in store for them. After the winners were announced. the judges were asked to cook a dish of their own! Check out all the pictures below.

Friendship Circle Moms Night Out

Friendship Circle Moms get a Well Deserved Night Out

Have you ever had one of those evenings when you wish you could just be whisked away to a small piece of paradise, and still make it back in time to wake your children up in the morning?

On August 7th, 60 mothers who have children with special needs were given that opportunity during Friendship Circle’s annual Mom’s Spa Night Out at the picturesque home of Alon and Shari Kaufman.

But the warm summer evening, coupled with the beautiful lakeside views, was not all that awaited and rejuvenated these mothers. Friendship Circle arranged for them to be pampered with manicures, facials and massages and were also given the opportunity to relax in the hot tub and pool. Delectable desserts and refreshing cocktails also waited, allowing these moms time to indulge in several hours of peace, and bask in the tranquil sounds of trickling water and the murmurings of pleasant conversation.

“What a fabulous Friendship Circle Mom’s Spa Night tonight!” said Renee Judkins. “Thank you to everyone at Friendship Circle who worked so hard to make this an absolutely amazing, relaxing, fun, just perfect evening! I’m still floating on clouds from having an incredible head to toe massage, a fabulous facial, an invigorating swim in that awesome pool, and a rejuvenating soak in the hot tub to end the night! I’m really going to sleep well tonight!”

This evening gives mothers of children with special needs the opportunity to have time to themselves while connecting with fellow mothers of children with special needs who share so many commonalities in their lives.

A special thank you goes out to the generosity of the Kaufmans, for providing their beautiful and serene home, and also to the spa specialists for donating their time and talent, for these special needs moms.

“Thank you Friendship Circle for pampering the moms,” Hayley Snyder said  Not only do you take amazing care of our kids but you look at the big picture of the family. Last night was such a treat! “

It was a special evening indeed–one that many mothers will be eagerly anticipating next year.

A Friendship Circle Mom’s Night Out

Moms Night Out

Join Friendship Circle moms for a Chanukah Celebration and an evening of painting and fun!

Artistic or not, Painting With A Twist gives you the opportunity to create a beautiful canvas painting. A local artist will lead you step by step through the process of recreating an exquisite piece of  artwork.

At the end of the evening, you’ll have a one-of-a-kind creation and a new-found talent you’ll want to explore. This is not your average art class, this is art entertainment.

The Details:

Date: Monday, Dec 10, 7:00 pm
Location: 33033 Grand River Ave Farmington, MI 48336
Fee: $25
Food: Light refreshments and wine
Questions? Contact Sarah: [email protected]org or call 248 788 7878 ext 209
About Painting With A Twist: www.paintingwithatwist.com

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