Photo Credit: Courtesy: Friendship Circle in Livingston, N.J.
Liba Grossbaum displays the main item in “Challah and Chicken Soup for the Quarantined Soul” packages for Shabbat, distributed by the Friendship Circle in Livingston, N.J., May 1, 2020.

(JNS) Hundreds of families will get a dose of nourishment and nurturing this Shabbat thanks to a special care package from Friendship Circle in Livingston, N.J.

The “Challah and Chicken Soup for the Quarantined Soul” package includes rolls, grape juice, kiddush cup, Shabbat candles and homemade chicken soup (matzah balls were optional).


Organizers had initially planned for about 125 care packages, but word got out and the requests started pouring in. Families were also offered the opportunity to pick up Shabbat packages for their homebound neighbors.

Staffers quickly moved into action. Their initial challah order with a local bakery was quickly upped to accommodate more families, and they scrambled to find quart-size plastic containers for the soup.

All told, some 300 Shabbat boxes were prepared, and by early Friday afternoon, many people had arrived at LifeTown, the new location of the Friendship Circle, to pick up the items. Handlers wore face masks and gloves. Some families even went home with a bonus gift—much-needed surgical masks, thanks to a generous Friendship Circle donor.

“Even though we can’t be together in person, we wanted the community to know that we are thinking about them and help ease the loneliness that many people are feeling,” said Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, CEO of Friendship Circle New Jersey. “With the packages, we can all celebrate the joy and beauty of Shabbat together.”