An unforgettable Chai Lifeline Shabbos

On Friday, November 22, 33 Camp Simcha campers and 37 counselors descended on Toms River for an unforgettable Shabbos. The Shabbaton, which was arranged by Yechiel Mayer Frenkel, also known as Franky, was the group’s first reunion since the camp season ended.

The children were welcomed at the Tyrnauer home on Friday afternoon with a lavish toamehu buffet and a large assortment of candy and refreshments. Each child received a customized duffel bag stuffed with a drone, customized sweatshirt, watch and other accessories while the medical team reviewed their medical documents and medications to ensure a safe and smooth experience for all.

An oversized tent was set up near Rabbi Moshe Rotberg’s shulon Old Freehold Road to accommodate the large crowd. Menachem Tessler catered the mouthwatering meals, chazzanShauly Hecht lead the tefillos, and Shulem Lemmer And Yoni Z uplifted the children, counselors and local community at the Friday night oneg. The crowd erupted into spontaneous dancing in response to their spirited singing during the kiddush that followed the Shabbos day davening.

Avromi, a Camp Simcha Special camper, addressed the crowd at shalosh seudas. He stressed how each opportunity to unite with his Camp Simcha friends makes it easier to contend with the difficulties of cerebral palsy. Another camper who had his third kidney transplant this summer spoke as well, expressing howthere was no way he could have gotten through his challenges without the support of his counselors and camp friends, who are the only ones who really understand what he is going through.

“Although it’s amazing to see the counselors’ spirited dancing and singing with their campers, what’s most amazing is how they take care of the campers and tend to their every need,” said Rabbi Rotberg. As an example, he shared a personal incident he witnessed on Friday night, when two counselors left the meal to settle their tired campers into bed. “Although the meal was exhilarating, these counselors knew that they’re not there for themselves – they’re here for the campers, and they didn’t hesitate to leave the fun to take care of their campers’ needs,” he said.

On Motzei Shabbos, Shulem Lemmer’s moving havdala led into a grand melava malka during which Shulem and Yoni rocked the house together with music by Yossi Shtendig and lighting effects by Mayer Kolko. Uri Davidi made a special appearance, andShloimy Lowinger performed magic for the crowd, followed by a distribution of awards to the individuals who expended untold hours of effort to arrange the Shabbos.

As the Shabbos came to a close and the children headed home, the grateful feedback started pouring in. “I don’t believe I ever got such an outpouring of positive feedback from a Shabbaton,” said Nachman Maimon, Director of Camp Simcha Special.

“It was incredible to witness how children can go through so much and still be happy,” said Yechiel Mayer Frenkel. “Camp Simcha is everything for them – friends, family and life.”

[Videos of the event]

 

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