Rabbi Mendel Samuels
Rabbi Mendel Samuels is the Executive Director of Chabad of the Farmington Valley. His life was completely changed when he and his wife discovered that his sixth and youngest son has Riley Day Syndrome, a very rare genetic disorder. Since then Rabbi Samuels has dedicated much time and effort to supporting families with children with disabilities. Rabbi Samuels communicates the intricacies of caring for and loving a person with a disability in a most relatable and perceptive way.
Rabbi Samuels is also a sought after lecturer of Jewish theology and mysticism, beloved by audiences for his sense of humor and unique ability to inspire others.
The 2018 Friendship Circle Honorees
Volunteers of the Year
Mrs. Barbara Rosenberg is a retired Speech Pathologist who spent many years working with students with disabilities, as well as patients recovering from stroke.
Barbara started the first city-wide Jewish Sunday School program for children with disabilities in Houston, before she turned it over to the Education Department of the Jewish Federation.
Barbara was recognized by the State of Texas for her extensive volunteer work at the Richmond State School (now State Supported Living Center). She is an active participant of Jewish Voices in Prayer, an ongoing project for Jewish observance in our state institutions, organized by Ileene Robinson and headed by Rabbi Dovid Goldstein.
Batami has served on the Friendship Circle Young Adults' committee since its inception. She and her fellow dedicated volunteers have created and participated in programming that fosters friendship, camaraderie, and integration. Batami has demonstrated strong leadership while chairing several events the past two years.
Batami has been a member of Young Jewish Professionals Houston since she began her professional life. She has worked as a commercial litigator with focuses in employment law and product liability law. She holds her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Houston Law Center and Plan II Honors, Business Honors, and Marketing degrees from The University of Texas at Austin. She continues to be a proud Longhorn and very much cherishes her family and friends.
Zoe started volunteering with The Friendship Circle eleven years ago, at age seven. Her brother, Zak, is a participant and he inspired her to start volunteering. Zoe has helped plan and promote Friendship Circle events and programming for many years and has served on the Friendship Circle Teen Presidents' Board over the past two years. The Friendship Circle is a second family to Zoe. Volunteering with Friendship Circle has helped Zoe strive to be an advocate for individuals with disabilities.
She will be studying kinesiology at Texas A&M and plans to become a physical therapist.
The 2018 Young Adult (FCYA) Committee
The 2018 Teen Volunteers