Special Children Take Center Stage at The Center’s Annual Family Chanukah Event with Yaakov Shwekey
December 4, 2022
The energy was electric at the jam-packed, 2,800-seat Ritz Theater of Elizabeth, NJ on Sunday night, as parents, siblings, and even grandparents gathered from across the tri-state area for The Special Children’s Center’s annual Light Up the Night Chanukah Event.
Featuring Yaakov Shwekey and the “Center Superstars”—the many special children and their siblings who sang on stage with Shwekey throughout the night—the event was a historic one: A gathering of all three branches of the Center Family – Jersey, Deal, Brooklyn & The five towns all gathered as one, big extended family.
“It was such an incredible feeling of unity to have everyone together under one roof. This event is an opportunity for us to celebrate with the amazing brothers, sisters, and parents who inspire us every day,” says Jenine Shwekey, Founder. “We love to see everyone on such a high, singing and dancing together, having such a great time. It’s a way for all of us to say thank you for this wonderful Center family.”
Emcee Yaakov Klugman opened the night with a surprise birthday celebration for our very own Batya & Nechama. Shwekey then performed his beloved hits as thousands danced and sang, including scores of loving counselors who enthusiastically danced with the children. Surprise guest appearances by Uri Davidi & Joey Newcomb added even more excitement to the night.
“The children from the Center adore Yaakov Shwekey, and he treats each one as if they are his child! His dedication to them, their families and all the counselors, felt like a strong current of love coursing through the entire room,” said Chaya Bender.
Everyone enjoyed Shwekey’s debut of his newly released song sang with Nosson Tzvi Zlotowitz – a song created in collaboration with Gedalia Zlotowitz and Artscroll in memory of his grandfather A”H
In a particularly emotional moment, Daniel of the five towns center was so excited and surprised to see his great-grandfather, Avrumy (Mona) Rosenblum from the Diaspora Band on stage! He ran up to embrace him and they performed together. Their palpable love and connection were felt by all and greatly livened the performance
When a special child is born the whole family is affected. The child and his or her parents, and siblings face enormous physical and emotional challenges. Thankfully, these parents are not alone. The Special Children’s Center is there for each family member at every step of the journey. Their needs become our needs; their pain becomes our pain; their triumphs become our triumphs. They know that we are their extended family for life.
The center provides respite services to over 700 families in New Jersey, Deal, Brooklyn & Five Towns. They provide after school programs, Sunday programs, legal holiday programs, shabbat programs, Disney mid-winter programs, parent Shabbaton, case management, pre and post summer camp, summer camp, 0 to 3 integrated daycare, adults day programs, kosher group homes and so much more.
When the Center family gathered on Sunday night, that was the overarching message: We are all in this together, forever and always.