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An Inside Perspective

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I had once volunteered for Friendship Circle while spending a weekend in Ohio, and I really enjoyed it. So in 2003, when Friendship Circle opened a branch in my community, I was excited to join.

I was an active volunteer, visiting my special friend once a week, and participated in all programs. Each visit left me feeling fulfilled; I was helping someone special, and simultaneously learning so much from my new friend. I never really gave much thought to her day-to-day life, how she coped and adapted; this was something removed from my personal life. After all, she was not my relative, so I was just being helpful, for one hour a week, to someone who needed a friend.

Three years later, my perspective changed. In December 2006, my youngest brother, Boruch Shneur, was born. Boruch Shneur is blessed with Down Syndrome. I know that seems like an oxymoron. To me, it seemed like that too. Initially I was shocked beyond belief. Being a Friendship Circle volunteer before my brother was born gave me an opportunity to view life from a different perspective. But, although I was involved in Friendship Circle, I maintained an outsider's view. It was something that happened to other people, not to me and my "normal" family. It took me a while to find the blessing in it, but with support, understanding and empathy from my parents and some friends, and after reading various articles related to Down Syndrome, I began seeing how having Boruch Shneur in my family is truly a blessing and a part of G‑d's perfect master plan.

One particular analogy in the context of challenges, suffering and pain had a real impact on me. As told by a friend, life is a tapestry, woven by a master weaver or artist. If one looks at the tapestry from behind, all you see are knots and random threads. But if you look at it from the front, you see a beautiful picture. G‑d is the Master Weaver. The world, and everything that happens in this world, is the tapestry. Now we only see the tapestry from the back; there are things we don't understand and seem so complicated. But I know that when Moshiach will arrive, we will see the tapestry from the front. A beautiful picture awaits us, and we will see how everything G‑d did, the good and the seemingly not good, were all part of His master plan to make this world complete.


Chaya Chein was born in April 1990 in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated Bais Rivkah High School and studied abroad in a Jerusalem seminary. She has been a Friendship Circle volunteer since 2003 and continues to volunteer for Friendship Circle and Chai Lifeline, an organization that helps terminally ill children.
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anonymous west hartford February 17, 2010

Nice article, but fact check: a master weaver's work is also beautiful from behind. The novice's is messy. Reply

chanie antwerp, belgium February 15, 2010

thank u very much!!!!!!!!!! Reply

Anonymous Seattle , Washington February 14, 2010

Thank You!!! Beautiful!
Thank you so much for sharing this optimistic and inspiring approach, which can be applied to all the challenges that we face in everyday life. Reply

Anne clayton, nc February 14, 2010

This is beautiful A really interesting perspective on retardation! Reply

Chana R. P. Brooklyn, NY February 14, 2010

Chaya, you are a great! Dear Chaya,
I had the privilege of recently observing you with a special needs child. Your patient, upbeat manner is simply awesome.
You are just Amazing.
Wishing you much success in your many worthy endeavors,
Chani P. Reply

Anonymous February 14, 2010

go chaya! stay strong ur awesome :) Reply

Friendship Circle is today's fastest growing Jewish organization for children with special needs. With over 76 locations worldwide Friendship Circle has cultivated friendships between 5,000 special children and close to 11,000 teen volunteers.

The unique vision of the Rebbe that "none of us are complete unless all of us are included" provides our motivation to bridge the gap between families of children with special needs and the general community while providing today’s teens with a productive and enjoyable focus.

Window To Our World, presented by Friendship Circle International, will share with you the inside perspective of special children, their families, volunteers, community members and Friendship Circle coordinators who bring them together.

For more information, please visit the Friendship Circle website.

Click here for an insightful video about special needs children.

Moderated by Rochel Groner, Friendship Circle International
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