Adena Potok


A native of Brooklyn NY, Adena Potok grew up in a religiously observant Labor Zionist family. Her education began in the Crown Heights Yeshiva and moved on to a public high school, Hunter College, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and the schools of Social Work at UPenn and UCLA, where she earned her MSW.

As the founding National President of the Student Zionist Organization, Adena led a group of young adults in the Israel Summer Institute in 1954, where she met old-time friends of her father, President Itzhak ben Zvi, then Labor Minister Golda Meir, and David ben Gurion, then in retirement at Kibbutz S’de Boker.

Professionally Adena has served as a resident psychiatric child care counselor for an adolescent population, a Veterans’ Administration Mental Hygiene clinician, field office counselor and psychiatric social worker. As fieldwork instructor and unit director in Jerusalem for the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work in Jerusalem, Adena supervised social work students working with families of hearing-impaired children where she worked with a diverse population. One of her students was a young man from a Maronite village in northern Israel.     

Always the teacher, over many years Adena was a popular instructor for the adult education programs of Greater Philadelphia’s Jewish Community Centers as well as in her synagogue, Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El.  Active in the community she has served in leadership capacities in a variety of settings: schools, social service, community centers and community organizations. She shepherded the implementation of the long range plan of Philadelphia’s Jewish Federation in the early nineties.  One of Adena’s favorite activities is serving as election officer at the polls for the primaries and on Election Day in November.

Adena began her editorial career in 1959 as “first reader” for Chaim Potok’s literary works and maintained that role until his death in 2002.  She was also consultant to Aaron Posner in the theatre adaptation of My Name Is Asher Lev. She is Chairman of the Board of Theatre Ariel, Philadelphia’s oldest Jewish theatre, and she serves as Israel editor for the online monthly –

Adena has been a member of JSPAN’s Board since 2005.