Hundreds of individuals living in isolation from addiction, grief and mental illness find a path forward at the Friendship House.
Sponsored by Friendship Circle
In the early 1990s, a young man by the name of Daniel Sobel, who was struggling with mental illness and addiction, was introduced to a local rabbi. After searching for help, Daniel’s parents found hope and a lifelong friendship for their son through Rabbi Yitschak Meir Kagan. Daniel would lose his battle with addiction, but his legacy would become the Friendship House, a community support center based in West Bloomfield, the inaugural program of The Friendship Circle.
“When my wife, Carole, and I lost our son to addiction, we knew we had to do something to honor his memory,” says Sam Sobel, Daniel’s father. “Working with Lubavitch, we wanted to open a center where young adults who were struggling, felt distressed or alienated could find support and friendship.”
With a dedication to honor their son and help others facing similar struggles, Sam and Carole Sobel funded the opening of the Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House in 1994 on the Lubavitch Jewish Community Campus in West Bloomfield. Friendship Circle director Rabbi Levi Shemtov led the program for many years. Rabbi Yisrael Pinson was hired to establish a stronger program, followed by Rabbi Benny Greenwald, director of the Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House.
“Sadly, everyone knows someone or has a friend who knows someone who struggles with addiction or mental illness,” says Greenwald. “The Sobels’ vision to create a space for those individuals to come has become this beautiful place where we are all partners in creating our own infinite life.”
Since its founding, the Friendship House has become a support system and an extension of home to hundreds of individuals along their journey. The house is a hub for weekly recovery and support meetings as well as weekly Shabbat dinners, Jewish holiday programs and social events.
Friendship House connects people struggling with mental illness to others who’ve faced similar challenges. “We’re able to offer programs that integrate the 12 steps of recovery into Jewish faith,” Greenwald said. “Here, everyone has a friend.”
As individuals become involved with the Friendship House, they also begin giving back through mentorship and sponsorship, as well as through the community programs offered through the Friendship House. Each week, friends of the Friendship House prepare and deliver 30-40 Shabbat dinners for patients in the hospital, individuals in rehab and those who are homebound.
“A large part of recovery is giving back,” Greenwald says. “Our Shabbat dinner program serves hundreds of meals each month and is fully run by volunteers and friends. We want everyone to know that wherever you are in your struggle, you can be a part of, and give back to, the community.”
Friendship House has become a pillar in the Jewish and rehabilitation communities. Everyone is welcome and finding the same hope Daniel Sobel found so many years ago. Throughout his time at Friendship House, Greenwald has seen the miracles that happen when people find a place of acceptance and hope. Within these walls, they are celebrated for their hard work and appreciated for their struggle.
Get involved, go to friendshipcircle.org/foreverfriendship