Friends with Diabetes UK, and Sweet Circles for girls with Diabetes, projects of Bikur Cholim D’Satmar, celebrated a First Anniversary Shabbaton, this past Shabbos Parshas Terumah. The events which ran from Friday night through to Motzei Shabbos were enhanced by the presence of Rabbi Hershel Meisels from New York who was brought to the UK by Hatzola. Whilst Rabbi Meisels is internationally renowned for his ongoing efforts to promote healthy living, he is primarily the Founder and Director of Friends with Diabetes US, and his expertise and experience in supporting people with Diabetes provides chizuk and support to Adults and Children with Diabetes.
The support groups for Adults and Children with Type 1 Diabetes were set up just one year ago by two heroic women whose lives had been touched by Diabetes. In an effort to reach out to others with the condition, they coordinate regular support groups for women and exciting activities for children. This Shabbos was the highlight of the year’s diary and featured a packed program including a Shabbos Seudah for girls, Q&A session with Rabbi Meisels and a Shabbos afternoon program which stretched past Havadalah.
On Motzei Shabbos, over 60 adults joined together at the Bobov Hall for a Melave Malka. The event was the first of its kind in the UK and a unique opportunity for people who are living with Diabetes to come together with others in the same situation. The chair, a father of one of the children with Diabetes welcomed the participants and a special welcome was extended to new members some of whom had travelled from North West London, Manchester and Gateshead. He thanked the anonymous sponsor who had funded the Melave Malka in memory of his parent who had suffered from Diabetes at a time and place when little support was available and the condition was compounded by severe stigma.
The atmosphere was charged as Rabbi Meisels introduced himself and explained how wonderful it felt to witness the outgrowth of his US based support group which has now reached the UK and how delighted he was by the monumental achievements of reducing stigma and enabling people to come together to support one another. He also described the necessary conditions and aptly compared this to the voice of the Shechinah which could be heard through the Keruvim but not outside of the Ohel Moed. In the same way, the openness and willingness to share must be contained within the group and the commitment to confidentiality is the highest priority. This was followed by a lively Q& A session involving all the participants
Catering was provided by Ephraim Goldstein of Simcha Express and was elegantly presented with great attention to detail, and Mr Shia Samet and Mr Yanky Rothschild, Mr Motty Strom, Mr Shaya Gluck provided musical entertainment.
In a display of Hakoras Hatov, Rabbi Meisels was presented with a plaque thanking him for his contribution and for the lasting impact of his insight and inspiration.
As the event drew to a close, participants lingered over hot drinks with a renewed commitment to join future events and to continue to support one another.