Running through the streets of San Francisco

Brills of Cedarhurst to raise money for Friendship Circle


When Cedarhurst residents Chaim and Tovah Brill endure the heat and hills of the annual San Francisco Marathon on July 27, the couple will run in hopes of raising much more than their heart rates.
They will rise above breathtaking views from the Golden Gate Bridge, and up the winding slopes of Haight-Ashbury and Fisherman’s Wharf. Most importantly, the Brills will raise money, a hoped for $5,000, for the Five Towns chapter of the Friendship Circle.
Located at the Jean Fischman Chabad Center in Cedarhurst, the Friendship Circle pairs teen volunteers with children with special needs to create lasting friendships. The program exists in over 100 places including Israel, Australia and Detroit, where it originated. Batsheva Borenstein, director of the Five Towns chapter, said that along with therapists, special education and legal accommodations required for children with special needs, “What these children really need are friends.”
Borenstein works with more than 700 volunteers and 150 families to create well-fitted pairs of teens and children to simply hang out in what she calls a “non-clinical way.” In turn, teen volunteers are able to unplug from Smartphones and laptops. The Five Towns Friendship Circle has also participated in the Miami and New York City marathons, Borenstein added.
“It’s a good organization, and a race is always fun,” Tovah said. A pharmacist at Mercy Medical Center, she and her husband, Chaim, a psychotherapist, will be the Five Town Friendship Circle’s official representatives in the San Francisco marathon. Their course, a 13.1 mile half-marathon, is entirely up-hill, an appropriate endeavor to raise awareness for the often uphill struggles children with disabilities face on a day to day basis.

The Brills’ motivation to participate in the marathon stemmed from a newsletter announcing a “last call” for “Team Friendship,” the program’s racing representatives. Having no previous involvement with the organization, they immediately volunteered. The Brills, however, are no strangers to the program as they are active members of the Jean Fischman Chabad Center.
Preparation for the event has not been a huge adjustment for the Brills –– they have been avid runners for the past three years — and have completed a collective 11 New York City marathons. Tovah did admit, however, that she has been running laps up and down the stairs during downtime at work. Chaim, as well, does laps around the track at 5 a.m., even in the brutal humidity.
Their participation in the marathon goes beyond a general love of running. Tovah highlighted what the event means to her: “Taking something you can’t do, and doing it.” She said. “The fact that I can run 13 miles, it’s a tribute to God.”
Tovah said the Friendship Circle is a way to shine light on what children with special needs can do, rather than can’t. Chaim said that the event is about, “Doing something that goes beyond self-love.” He strives to take care of the Jewish community while taking care of himself.
The couple will run alongside Friendship Circle members from Miami and California. Racers of the half-marathon will leave the starting line, located at the Embarcadero Center, at 5:30 a.m.
To help the Brills and the Five Town’s Friendship Circle reach their goal of $5,000, you can visit, or