The Shalom Center at Temple Chai has been providing a support group since the fall of 2006 called CHAI Circle. The CHAI refers to Cancer, Healing and Inspiration for Women in the Jewish Community.
The group provides education, mentoring, socialization, spirituality, and support for women in the Jewish community with cancer who are recently diagnosed, or with a history, in treatment, or trying to cope with remission or recurrence. Monthly gatherings have provided opportunities for women to connect with others in a supportive setting with the help of a professional counselor.
Speakers and programming at the meetings have offered education, empowerment, and encouragement through discussion of Jewish perspectives on healing, health topics of interest, and dealing with the uncertainties and changes that affect all members of a family when dealing with cancer. We have had guest speakers who are authors with cancer, musicians, and fitness and healthy living specialists.
Positive feedback from the program has emphasized the honesty and genuine caring and the sharing of stories. The group members have enjoyed participating in some of the creative projects that we have at Temple Chai including creating healing tapestries, blessing bundles, and lap quilts and shawls. Participants have preferred the less structured meetings over the speakers. After the first year, we have focused more on their own stories, concerns, coping, and growing.