PHOTOS: Chestnut Community Hosts Chai Lifeline’s warriors

By T.H. The Chestnut Community opened their homes and their hearts this past Shabbos, and hosted the warriors of Chai Lifeline for an unforgettable Shabbaton.

The Judowitz home was abuzz on Friday, with the arrival of the boys from across the tri-state area as well some boys from Maryland. The torrential rain did little to deter the Camp Simcha campers and volunteers from enjoying every moment! After being served delicious refreshments, the boys picked up their awesome personalized packages stuffed with caps, sweatshirts, a karaoke machine and drone for each boy, and loads of goodies. They all joined together in a large tent set up for the afternoon activities in the Judowitz backyard. The beautiful decor contributed greatly to the ambiance. There was an extensive buffet set up by Tessler’s Caterers along with fresh cotton candy and popcorn. The entire community joined the boys in lively dancing and entertainment by renowned singer Davidi and world famous illusionist David Blatt. Special thank you to Yossi Greenzweig for donating his time to play the keyboard and create spirited atmosphere.

The signature Camp Simcha energy resonated throughout the neighborhood. The muddy ground turned into a dance floor as counselors lifted the wheelchairs so everyone could join along. While observing from the side, one community noted with amazement, “It was so touching to see the individual care given by each counselor to their camper.”

Over 20 families from the neighborhood invited in the boys and their counselors, providing them with comfortable accommodations, including ramps and wheelchairs provided by Lev Rochel Bikur Cholim, and all other special needs. The kindness and sensitivity that every community member showed the boys was so special! Tzvi Haber, assistant Head Counselor at Camp Simcha, and coordinator of the Shabbaton remarked, “the kids didn’t feel like they were being hosted. They felt like they were at home!”

Shabbos started with a heartfelt Kaballas Shabbos at the Chestnut shul led by R’ Sruli Williger, who joined the community for Shabbos. All present joined together in joyous dancing, welcoming the boys while linked arm in arm. The Rav, Rabbi Greenfield, shared his insights with the crowd, explaining how although we don’t necessarily see the big picture in life, Hashem always has a plan. The Friday night meal continued with the same ruach. The delicious meal was prepared by Berish Rapaport of Yapchik followed by an oneg which the entire community joined in, ending with a heartfelt kumzits which lasted until the late hours of the night. R’ Moshe Klein, Shabbaton chairman, commented that “the oneg was so uplifting. You could see the emotion on everyone’s face.”

Although all the boys struggle with either acute or life-long illness, this Shabbos was focused on celebrating the strengths of each child. One camper shared his thoughts, “This shabbos, and Camp Simcha in general, is all about the present. They always capture the moment, and never miss an opportunity to bring a smile to our faces.”

Not wanting to miss out even a minute of this fabulous Shabbos, the participants were up bright and early to daven Shachris at Bais Medrash Ohr Gedalya. A beautiful davening was once again led by R’ Sruli Williger. The Rav, Rabbi Londisky, spoke about the concept of kedoshim teihiyu and how everyone can have a connection to Hashem. He thanked Chai Lifeline, not only for this shabbos, but for all their involvement throughout the year.

Everyone went back to their host’s homes where they enjoyed the Shabbos day meal with their “adopted family” for the weekend. The camaraderie and achdus was felt by all. Many of the guests formed close relationships with their hosts and children.

The Frenkel’s opened their home for a special oneg Shabbos afternoon with an endless variety of refreshments. While the campers were enjoying the community and their new-found friends, the planned program was forgotten! Mr. Yechiel Frenkel, visionary and driving force behind the whole Shabbaton commented, “Everyone had such an enjoyable time; the campers, counselors and community all tapped into an inner joy throughout the Shabbos.” He continued, “I was approached right after Shabbos by a few friends saying that if they were asked to host again, they would do so in a heartbeat!”

Shalosh seudos at Kahal Sharei Tefilla was graced by divrei chizuk from the rav, Rabbi Babad. He was michabed two campers to speak and share their experiences with Chai Lifeline. Tzvi Haber, assistant head counselor in Camp Simcha, expressed his impressions about the dedicated volunteers, “The Shabbos was an amazing combination of a communal, yet intimate atmosphere. It was truly a group effort and the boys felt it.”

The weekend culminated with a stirring Havdala which was led by R’ Sruli Williger and R’ Shloimy Kletzkin which had all the boys on their feet, swaying and humming along. Melave Malka followed with pizza and lively dancing. All who participated in this one-of-a-kind shabbos walked away truly inspired and with a deep sense of brotherhood and unity.

Awards were presented to those who went above and beyond in planning, sponsoring, and executing the Shabbaton:

Mr. and Mrs. Moshe Atlas

Mr. and Mrs. Mordy Chopp

Mr. and Mrs. Meir Cohen

Mr. and Mrs. Yechiel Frenkel

Mr. and Mrs. Yisroel M Judowitz

Mr. and Mrs. Oded Kariti

Mr. and Mrs. Moshe Klein

Mr. and Mrs. Avi Mermelstein

Mr. and Mrs. Berish Rapaport

Mr. and Mrs. Yonason Schlesinger

The Chai Lifeline volunteers who attended the Shabbaton were true role models of commitment, responsibility and above all, displayed true love for each child. Their inextinguishable energy kept the boys smiling all throughout the Shabbos. The dedicated Chai Lifeline Lakewood volunteers remained to clean up late Motzei Shabbos long after all the guests returned home.

Every boy at this Shabbaton was given the VIP treatment, making him feel like the most important person in the world! From the decor to the food, from the program to the camaraderie, the boys left knowing that they made friends forever in the Chestnut community.

Special thanks to Leah Weingarten Photography and Uri Goldblat for a fabulous job!

This content, and any other content on TLS, may not be republished or reproduced without prior permission from TLS. Copying or reproducing our content is both against the law and against Halacha. To inquire about using our content, including videos or photos, email us at [email protected].

Stay up to date with our news alerts by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

**Click here to join over 15,000 receiving our Whatsapp Status updates!**

**Click here to join the official TLS WhatsApp Community!**

Got a news tip? Email us at [email protected], Text 415-857-2667, or WhatsApp 609-661-8668.


  1. It’s so unbearable how far ppl go to help others!
    Looks like a really uplifting shabbos
    Looks like everyone njoyed
    Campers and staff
    #cheski k. And all other counselors!!!
    Keep it up guys!!!!!

Comments are closed.