The Hebrew Institute of White Plains recently welcomed Dena Edelman and Aaron Portman, two dynamic educators, to their synagogue as their new youth directors.
Edelman and Portman just moved to White Plains after getting married on Labor Day, in Columbus, Ohio. They met as staff members at Camp Stone and are looking forward to using the wealth of experience they have in informal Jewish education engaging the HIWP youth and the entire shul community.
Edelman is currently a student at Yeshiva University where she is pursuing a degree in biology and neuroscience with a minor in psychology. She spent this summer working in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2015, Edelman was part of the Machal wilderness leadership program and in 2016 was a rosh eidah at Camp Stone. A native of Pittsburgh, Edelman is an avid runner, is fluent in Russian and loves the outdoors, a love that she shares with Portman.
Portman, a 2016 graduate of Yeshiva University, was a program associate at AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, where he worked at Footsteps, an organization that assists ultra-Orthodox Jews who leave their communities by providing social, emotional and vocational support. Portman was Rosh Machal and Rosh Moshava at Camp Stone and is in his first year of the smicha program at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. He loves to play ultimate Frisbee and, like Edelman, loves to hike.
Edelman and Portman look forward to building on the success of their predecessors, Rabbi Sam Pearlson and Ayala Raice, who were integral parts of the HIWP family for the last three years. As the demographics of the HIWP community continues to skew younger, the new youth directors are faced with the ongoing challenge of ensuring that youth programing at HIWP continues to be relevant and meaningful for the growing cadre of kids involved, and also that the programming meets the needs and expectations of the parents who have invested in the shul’s success. HIWP leadership agrees that both are well-equipped to meet the challenge. Their ruach, charisma and good nature will be vital assets on which they can rely as they begin this exciting new chapter in their lives together.
As Rabbi Chaim Marder of HIWP said, “I have known Aaron and Dena for many years. I’ve seen them at work with kids, and have heard from their peers just how gifted they are. We are so excited to have them as part of our wonderful staff. They’re going to do great things here!”