Four weeks ago, over two dozen teenaged boys headed out together for the Shabbos of their lives. They came from Flatbush and Boro Park, Passaic, Spring Valley, Monroe, New York City, and as far away as Canada. Many of the participants had never met before and their eclectic backgrounds held little in common. They were tied only by the shared experiences of living and growing with diabetes, and they were joined now for a Shabbos of learning, inspiration, and good, old-fashioned fun. Their destination? Monsey, New York: the home of Rabbi H. Meisels, the masterful and dedicated director of a vital Jewish organization, "Friends with Diabetes".
That Shabbos was more than a resounding success. It was a positive proof that the services "Friends with Diabetes" was providing were of indispensable necessity to the Jewish population. The boys were given the unique opportunity to exchange stories and tips, and to receive the support and encouragement that comes from knowing that there are others who face similar challenges and tests. Rabbi Meisels provided hands-on education on all aspects of living with diabetes, including the medical and halachic facets. Bonds were formed, resolves were strengthened, and new vistas were opened. By the time the Shabbos drew to a close, everyone present was wishing for more.
And there was more. Only this past weekend, several teenaged girls were treated to a similar Shabbaton. It was an incredible experience of learning, sharing, and refocusing. Long after the last of the souvenirs had been unpacked, the participants are still acting upon the tremendous inspiration they had received that Shabbos. As many of them remarked afterwards, "This was one event that exceeded all our expectations. Physically and spiritually, it was phenomenal!" Among the results of this mini Shabbaton was a serious commitment to execute a larger-scale, full-fledged Shabbos that would allow more girls to benefit from the unique combination of learning, motivation, and enjoyment that only a Shabbos with "Friends with Diabetes" could provide.
The name of the organization says it all: "Friends with Diabetes". It's where Jewish diabetics of all ages and walks of life can receive the counsel and support that allows diabetes to be the livable and manageable condition it truly is. Rabbi Meisels has provided patient guidance and encouragement to numerous newly-diagnosed diabetics and their families. Even those who have had the condition for years, testify with admiration that "Friends with Diabetes" opened their eyes to options of tighter control and greater flexibility. Unfortunately, as cases of diabetes are diagnosed with rising frequency, there is a need, more than ever, for the services this vital organization supplies. One of the massive accomplishments of the organization is clarifying the halachic implications of living with diabetes. Rabbi Meisels is currently researching and compiling a comprehensive work on the subject. As the need is growing, the demand is being met. "Friends with Diabetes" is here to help.