The start of a new year means more than a new home for The Friendship Circle. To accommodate the transition into the new building and rapidly-growing membership, the organization has expanded its inner circle. Founded in 2006 by Rabbi Mordy and Rivkee Rudolph, The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh aims to enrich the lives of people of all abilities through mutually advantageous interactions, creating lasting friendships, which consequently strengthen both the Jewish and greater community. In its inaugural year, the organization consisted of just 12 children with special needs and 25 teen volunteers. Today, The Friendship Circle touches the lives of over 500 participants and families, including 135 members with special needs, 320 teen volunteers, and a growing adult group today.
Since moving to 1922 Murray Avenue, The Friendship Circle staff has grown to include eight full-time staff members. Rabbi Mordy Rudolph, Executive Director, leads The Friendship Circle alongside his wife, Rivkee. After graduating high school at Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, he studied in London, England, and Tzfat, Israel, before receiving his Rabbinic ordination from the Rabbinical College of America at Morristown. Rabbi Mordy oversees many of the long-term plans and fundraising efforts of The Friendship Circle, such as the Capital Campaign for a New Home.
Rivkee Rudolph is the Director of The Friendship Circle. Famous for her party-planning abilities, Rivkee coordinates many major events, which often feature her own cooking! Rivkee graduated high school at Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, and continued studies at Seminary Chaya Mushka in Tzfat, Israel. She taught several years of pre-school both here in Pittsburgh, and in Brooklyn, New York, before initiating The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh together with her husband, Rabbi Mordy Rudolph, in September 2006.
Adina Barber is the senior member of The Friendship Circle’s office staff after three years as the Volunteer Coordinator. Adina graduated high school at Yeshiva Schools and continued to study education at Beit Chana Teachers Seminary in Israel. She has much experience coordinating programs for summer camps and Hebrew schools since she was a young teenager. Today, Adina works with The Friendship Circle’s with teen volunteers. She is currently working on getting them involved in the diverse programs offered at Friendship Circle and working to help them plan events of their own and further develop their own leadership skills.
Masha Glukhovskaya has seen Friendship Circle from all sides and offers unique insight after having joined the organization as a preteen over a decade ago. Originally participating in the Friends at Home program, Masha eventually joined the Teen Leadership Board and worked as a Program Staff member while in college. In 2016, Masha graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Communication Science and Disorders and a certificate in American Sign Language. As Program Coordinator, Masha plans all events for the I-Volunteer and Friends on the Town programs.
Originally from Nazareth, Pennsylvania, Meghan traveled across the state to study Political Science and Communications at the University of Pittsburgh. During her collegiate career, Meghan was an instructor at Gymkhana Gymnastics, where she became involved with The Friendship Circle through our Gymnastics Club. Upon completion of her degree in May 2016, Meghan joined The Friendship Circle as the Development Associate. Since then, she has kept busy assisting Rabbi Mordy in fundraising efforts, donor communications, and marketing.
Bree Kovar comes to Pittsburgh after five years with The Friendship Circle of Cleveland. She is currently finishing her Bachelor of Special Education at Kent State University. Bree began volunteering with individuals with special needs in seventh grade and has continued to do so at various schools and organizations over the past 15 years. She is very passionate about teaching inclusion, love, and acceptance to anyone and everyone that she can, and for this reason, feels right at home with The Friendship Circle! Like Masha, Bree is also a Program Coordinator. She supervises Friends at Home and plans many of the Out with Friends Clubs, such as Sports League, Bowling League, and more!
Member Coordinator Katy Demko moved from Chicago in 2012 to attend the University of Pittsburgh. This past May, she graduated from Pitt with a degree in Anthropology, a minor in Public Service, and a certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. After graduation, Katy backpacked across 14 European countries in 3 months. After returning to the United States, she joined The Friendship Circle in August and is looking forward to meeting all of the new and returning members!
The Friendship Circle welcomes Kahley Stiffler as their first PULSE fellow. Like several of her co-workers, Kahley also graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in May 2016 with a degree in Rehabilitation Sciences. Her past work experience has focused on the special needs population including positions with Skills of Central PA and Blind and Vision Rehab Services of Pittsburgh. Kahley is most looking forward to being able to help facilitate the new relationships that form through Friendship Circle and hopes that she will grow from them as well.
The Friendship Circle recently kicked-off the inaugural programming year in its new home with a Grand Opening on September 11th. In the upcoming year, expect to hear about new programs, events, and opportunities at FC!