The Circle Maker: Creating a More Inclusive World
Meet Bassie Shemtov, Founder of The Friendship Circle
The early days of Friendship Circle. Bassie Shemtov with her son, Mendel, daughter, Rochel, and Liliya Bromberg.
There’s a famous story in the Talmud about a man who implored G‑d to end a severe drought. Choni the Circle Maker drew a circle around himself and refused to leave until the desperately needed rain fell. Bassie Shemtov is another kind of circle-maker, creating a circle that has grown in ways no one could imagine—setting off rippling waves and expanding concentric circles of acceptance and love.
If you drive around northwestern Detroit suburbs around August, especially West Bloomfield, you’ll see a sea of purple lawn signs at many corners, urging you to join the Walk for Friendship/Friendship Circle. The name and logo are Who can be against friendship? universally appealing. Who can be against friendship? And a circle, denoting equality and a mutually beneficial relationship that gives and gives, around and around. You may notice the same logo on the bumper of many cars and vans. Whatever this Friendship Circle thing is, it’s got great press and is a really popular organization, you may rightly assume.
Should your curiosity get the best of you and you walk into the Friendship Circle-Meer Family Campus in West Bloomfield Michigan, or the Farber Soul Center a mile-and-a-half away, you will be impressed. Nay, amazed. Guaranteed.
Both are modern, cheerful, state-of-the-art facilities, at once professional and personal, built to support two very special populations: children with special needs and their families, and adults with a variety of special needs. Both centers are built around a philosophy of love, acceptance, empowerment and inclusion. These important words are so often overused that they may seem like clichéd buzzwords.
But at these places, they are very real concepts, manifested daily in numerous tangible ways, making dramatic difference in the lives of all who walk in the doors; volunteers, staff and participants alike.
For the rest of the story that includes An Idea Whose Time Has Come-Humble Beginnings-Two ‘Aha!’ Moments-Who Needs Who?-Good Art, Good Food, Good Vibes-On the Home Front, please click here at chabad.org.