Meet Our Team of Dedicated Community Leaders:
Mrs. Jordana Baruchov, a Middle School Grade Dean and Judaic Studies teacher at Yavneh Academy is an innovative, experienced educator. She is thrilled to be our newest member of the Jewish Journeys team!! She has a Masters in Jewish Education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. Through her classes, programs, passion and intellect Jordana has inspired thousands! Among her many talents Jordana also teaches tennis in the summer and enjoys baking for family and friends.Jordana lives in Clifton with her family.
Julie Farkas, founder of Jewish Journeys, identified the need to bring women to Israel through JWRP/Momentum in 2010. Jewish Journeys emerged from this endeavor and the first Bergen County JWRP Momentum trip brought 26 women to Israel in 2011. Farkas observed a deep desire for Jews with a limited formal Jewish educational background to connect and learn about their heritage. Since 2011, Farkas has led many Momentum trips to Israel, she teaches a weekly Torah class and enjoys hosting JJ participants for Shabbos and holiday meals. Outside of Jewish Journeys, Farkas is the owner of a Graphic Design and Promotions business in which she enjoys spending her days thinking of creative ways to help her client’s businesses grow. In her free time, she likes to draw, swim, learn new things and spend time with friends. Julie lives in Bergenfield with her husband and 3 children, ages 18, 25 and 25.
Jill Friedbauer went on her first JWRP/MOMentum trip in 2017 as a Community Leader. She lives in Teaneck, NJ with her husband Levi and three children, ages 10,14 and 16. Jill works as a physical therapist and is currently studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a certified health coach. Aside from her passion for health, Jill loves tennis, fishing, hiking and yoga.
Esther Friedman has resided in Teaneck for over 20 years. Mom of six, Esther has been involved in Jewish Journeys since its inception in 2011 and has gone on several Israel trips. In addition to the Momentum trips, Esther helped plan and organize Kadima, the second level experiential Jewish Journey’s Israel trip. She brings passion, excitement and a wealth of Jewish knowledge to our group.
As an outgrowth of her involvement with Jewish Journeys, Esther initiated the Bergen Great BIG Challah Bake several years ago bringing together Jewish women from diverse backgrounds for an evening of inspiration, laughter and unity and is still actively involved. She loves baking Challah and hosts a monthly Challah bake for our Jewish Journeys sisters. Esther also enjoys hosting our Jewish Journeys sisters together with their families for Shabbat dinners and holiday meals and looks forward to being a part of their continued Jewish journey.
Elana joined the Jewish Journeys team in 2012 and has been a Community Leader on four trips – 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017. Elana works as a Museum Educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Derfner Judaica Museum where she specializes in accessible programming. Elana and her husband, Jonathan, who was a city leader on a Men’s Momentum trip, live in Teaneck, NJ and are the proud parents of four children. Aside from working and volunteering, Elana enjoys exercising, reading, baking and spending time with family and friends.
Dena Levie lives in Teaneck, NJ and has been involved in Jewish Journeys for many years. She is married to Mark and has four children ages 16-25. When Dena is not volunteering for Jewish Journeys she works as a papercut artist and can be found in her home studio creating ketubot, family trees, wedding gifts and more. The highlight of her week is having coffee (OK, Diet Coke), a Shabbat meal, or just catching up with her Jewish Journeys friends. Her hobbies include reading and making Shutterfly books for all occasions. Her love of infusing song and spirit into everything she does makes her a unique member of the Jewish Journeys team.
Andrea Portal lives in Teaneck and has 4 children ages 16-27. She has a passion for the land of Israel and Judiasm and is thrilled to convey that passion to the women of Jewish Journeys. She has been a leader on two Momentum trips as well having co-run a second level, Kadima trip. In addition to volunteering as a leader for Jewish Journeys, Andrea is a yoga instructor and is involved in the parent council of her children’s high school. She enjoys all types of exercise, especially yoga as well as traveling and meeting new people.
Dr. Debby Rapps
Dr. Rapps is a Jewish educator and administrator with a reputation for vision and warm leadership. Along with being a Jewish Journeys Community Leader, Debby has been affiliated with the JYEP (Jewish Youth Encounter Program) since its inception in 1986 and has served as its Director since 1990. Debby earned her BA in Open Education and Jewish Studies from Queens College, CUNY, and her MA in Educational Psychology from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Administration from Yeshiva University. Debby and her husband have four sons, three of whom live in Israel and one in Teaneck, NJ. Debby believes in offering a Jewish education in a warm and nurturing environment. Debby infuses Jewish Journeys and its families with a joy and passion for Judaism coupled with a commitment to Jewish education, spirituality and continuity.
Debbie has been a Leader for Jewish Journeys on both a Momentum-Level One and a , DESTINY- Level Two trip. She lives in Teaneck, NJ with her three sons, ages 20, 24 and 26. For the past 33 years, Debbie has worked as a legal recruiter in NYC, where owns a recruiting company. She is a passionate challah baker and loves sharing her “tricks of the trade” and braiding techniques with others. For the past few years, Debbie has been the Co-Chair of the Jewish Journeys annual Great BIG Challah Bake. Debbie has a newfound passion for teaching Hebrew and is currently teaching a Level 2 class to an amazing group of her Jewish Journeys sisters. Among other things, Debbie enjoys opening her home for classes as well as hosting guests on Shabbos and holidays