Meet Rabbi Edward Friedman who brings an abundance of knowledge, compassion, and warmth to Temple B’nai Israel. Rabbi Friedman has served as spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Israel since 2016. He shares with us a great deal of experience in a variety of synagogues, large and small, as well as a deep understanding of Jewish tradition and a strong and melodious voice.

During his tenure at Temple B’nai Israel, Rabbi Friedman has enhanced our community in numerous ways. From initiating the Tu Bishvat seder, Shabbat on the Road and the monthly egalitarian service to reinstituting the synagogue Passover seder, Selichot services and annual Kever Avot cemetery services, the rabbi continually brings the congregation together for meaningful occasions. In addition, Rabbi Friedman always encourages our bar and bat mitzvah students to maximize their participation in our services not only on their special day, but in preparation for it, and from time to time after they assume their place in the congregation. The rabbi has always been active in interfaith and civic activities in the various communities he has served. Plus, you can find the rabbi’s thoughtful posts on our Facebook page each week that examine Jewish customs, Judaic practices and ancient works directly related to Judaism in the context of today’s culture. As a result of his many contributions to Temple B’nai Israel and beyond, our congregation is a celebration of diversity, where all who are interested in various facets of Jewish life always feel welcome.

True to the Temple’s ongoing commitment to a diverse and inviting community, Rabbi Friedman is available to provide guidance and support as well as religious leadership for lifecycle events for individuals and families, both members and non-members, of different backgrounds, abilities, and sexual orientations. The rabbi seeks to create ceremonies that meet the needs of the individuals involved within the framework of Jewish tradition.

The rabbi was born and raised in Connecticut and received a strong Jewish education in the Conservative congregation where he grew up: Rodeph Sholom of Bridgeport. In his youth, he attended Camp Ramah in Connecticut, was active in a variety of programs for young people in the synagogue, and took advantage of a number of supplementary opportunities for Jewish education. From an early age, he learned to lead services, read Torah, haftarah, and the megillot, and to sound the shofar. His love of Judaism led inevitably to his career choice in the rabbinate.

Rabbi Friedman is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America from which he was ordained. He also spent two of his academic years studying in Jerusalem and has gone back to visit Israel on a number of occasions. In 2002, the Seminary presented him with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition of over twenty-five years of service in the rabbinate.

Following his ordination, he began his career in Dallas, Texas, where he met his wife and her then four-year-old son Aaron Levy. The rabbi and Janice have been married for nearly forty years. After seven years as Assistant, then Associate, Rabbi in Dallas, he went on to serve as senior rabbi in a number of other congregations, including synagogues in Northampton, MA; Charleston, SC; Bloomfield, CT; Manchester, NH; and Andover, MA. Prior to coming to Aurora, he served in Freehold, NJ as rabbi of the Freehold Jewish Center.

Because of his dedicated interest in community involvement, the rabbi continues to be active in many area organizations. For more than eighteen years, he has coordinated the Greater Carolinas Association of Rabbis annual Interfaith Institute at Wildacres Retreat Center in North Carolina. Furthermore, he presided over several rabbinic and interfaith clergy and lay associations in different cities throughout the years. Currently, he is a member of the Chicago Board of Rabbis and Interfaith Aurora.

While the rabbi devotes much of his time to local organizations and building the Temple B’nai Israel community, he is also committed to the written word. In fact, he’s a voracious reader of both Judaica and secular literature. His large library collection features not only Hebrew works and various Judaic texts, but also among the secular volumes is a full collection of the works of Mark Twain and many other books about this influential American author.

In addition to his great enjoyment of reading, Rabbi Friedman is an accomplished writer himself. He’s the author of two chapters in the volume The Observant Life published by the Rabbinical Assembly. These chapters focus on caring for animals and relating to people with disabilities. He has also published some articles in periodicals that explore aspects of Jewish life and Judaism as a whole.

His wife Janice is an ordained Interfaith Peace Minister as is the rabbi. Her interests have been diverse: working for many years as a disability rights advocate, a professional photographer, a writer, an editor, a business owner, a singer, and an artist who has created in a variety of different media, most recently as a painter. Their son Aaron is a professional musician, songwriter, and music teacher. He is now pursuing a master’s degree in psychology.

Feel free to contact Rabbi Friedman at the synagogue. He would be glad to meet with you. Plus, he’s more than willing to arrange times to teach individuals or groups, whether or not they have chosen to become members at Temple B’nai Israel. In particular, the rabbi is happy to provide Hebrew instruction at different educational levels as well as guidance on a variety of other topics related to Judaism.

The rabbi welcomes visits by groups from churches, schools, and other organizations to the synagogue and is happy to speak in the community on various aspects of Judaism. Please know you are always welcome to join us on Shabbat. You’re sure to enjoy hearing Rabbi Friedman’s popular sermons and melodies as he chants the Sabbath prayers.

Contact Rabbi Friedman through the office here.