This was the Circle Shabbos as we hosted Chaya of the Friendship Circle. We served matzahballs and meatballs, circular mini-quiches, cucumber rounds salad, a ice-cream pies for dessert. The Friendship Circle is a national organization that pairs teens and college students with children who have special needs, for weekly home visits and/or a monthly Sunday Circle program. Chaya is the new local director and she promoted the program, seeking college volunteers at Friday Night dinner.

At Friday Night Dinner Rabbi Mendel shared a reread and new commentary with a life message to an old Berenstain classic titled “Inside, Outside, Upside Down.” There was a really nice turnout, we had to add a table or two, and a great vibe all around. We sang “Haveinu Shalom Aleichem” to welcome several special guests including a vacationing couple from Israel, a family from Monsey who couldn’t get back in time for Shabbos, Simmy and Chaya, and some new students who came to Shabbos House for the first time this Shabbat.

Just before Shabbat Lunch we learned 3 Mishnas in memory of Dan, the UAlbany student who died this week, as well as 3 life-reflections gleaned from those Mishnas. On Friday Night a few of his close friends arrived teary-eyed and heartbroken for the evening services and we added a special Psalm in his memory.

After lunch and Mincha students played chess (using the new professional-grade chess sets donated by the visiting tennis player a few weeks back), an intense game or two of Settlers of Catan, and even a few rounds of Texas Hold ‘Em using Cocoa-Puffs. Rabbi Mendel studied with one student a piece of Talmud that discusses the question of Kiddush being tied to a meal.