Chaya Mushka Glaser
by Paul Wieder

Chaya Mushka Glaser

For Chaya Mushka Glaser’s bat mitzvah projects, three things came together. One was her love of scrapbooking. One was the people she knew involved in an organization called Friendship Circle. The third was Chanukah… because her bat mitzvah was just before it in 2008.

Friendship Circle is an organization for children with special needs. They help both the kids and the people who take care of them. Chaya met some Friendship Circle kids in camp, and knows one here in Chicago. So when it came time to think of a bat mitzvah project, she naturally thought of them.

And because Chanukah was coming, she decided to give some presents to them. But because she likes scrapbooking, she decided to make the presents herself! JUF News logo

Now, what’s scrapbooking? It’s a hobby that turns making photo albums into an art. First, besides photos, you can include souvenirs, like movie tickets, greeting cards, pressed flowers… whatever you like! Then, you can decorate the pages and cover with markers, colored paper, buttons, string, pipe cleaners, stickers, sparkles, you name it! The possibilities are up to your own creativity, and when you are done, you have a unique way of holding and sharing your memories.

For her project, Chaya gathered more than a dozen of her friends to make a bunch of handmade gift bags for the Friendship Circle kids. They decorated paper bags, and inside put stickers. chocolates—because it was Chanukah of course— dreidels! Then they created their own  Chanukah greeting cards out of plain paper and their own imaginations.

One special thing they included was handmade puzzles. First, they drew a blank picture, like in a coloring book, on squares of cardboard. Then they cut them into puzzle pieces and put them in baggies. When the Friendship Circle kids put the puzzles back together, they were surprised by having a bonus gift— a picture to color in on their own. How cool is that?!

“It is heartening to see the selfless kindness expressed by Chaya Mushka and her young friends,” said Bassie Moscowitz, volunteer coordinator for the Friendship Circle, "The excitement the girls had in doing the project was felt in the air.”

Chaya, who lives in West Rogers Park, goes to the Philip and Rebecca Esformes Cheder Lubavitch Girls School. Her congregation is the Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe, also called F.R.E.E. because of its initials. Aside from her project, she celebrated her bat mitzvah with a big family dinner.

Chaya says that helping special-needs kids was “something I was always interested in,” and that for her bat mitzvah, she wanted to give presents as well: “Helping other people is a nice thing!”

JUF supports a service for special-needs kids and their caregivers, too! It’s called Keshet— Hebrew for “rainbow”— and you can learn all about it at .