Chai Lifeline brought together 500 people, including family members, rabbis, mental health experts, volunteers, and staff, for a weekend of inspiration at its annual LH Financial Winter Retreat for Families Living with Pediatric Cancer from December 27 to 29 at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park.
It offered professional and peer support, educational programming, respite and relaxation, and inspiration. Speakers included Rabbi Mayer Gross, a Chai Lifeline parent from Lakewood, and Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler, licensed clinical social worker and senior rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Achim B’nai Jacob and David in West Orange. Families received personalized bags for each child, and games and room packages. There was children’s programming and an outing. The mothers received a spa experience.
“Mutual support is vital for these families who are bound together by circumstance,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline’s chief executive officer. “The goal of these retreats is not only to provide these families with a sense of normalcy and chizuk, but to also let them know they are not alone in battling their child’s illness or in their emotional response to the situation.”
There was a Motzei Shabbat carnival with indoor inflatables, a concert with Benny Friedman, Yitz Henkin, and the Mezamrim Choir, and a Melava Malka.
To learn more about Chai Lifeline and its services, go to www.chailifeline.org.