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Michael S. Friedman to Become Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel in Westport

Contributed photo, courtesy Temple Israel
Contributed photo, courtesy Temple Israel

Written by Leslie Yager.

Rabbi Michael S. Friedman has been appointed Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel, a sixty-four year old Reform congregation in Westport, Connecticut. Rabbi Friedman will begin his position on July 1, 2014. 

Since 2008, he has been Associate Rabbi at Central Synagogue, one of the largest Jewish congregations in North America, where he has made many important and lasting contributions to youth engagement, adult learning, interfaith outreach and community involvement. 

Rabbi Friedman succeeds Rabbi Robert J. Orkand, who retired as Senior Rabbi after 30 years of devoted service to his community and congregation. 

“We are thrilled that Rabbi Friedman will join us in adding an exciting, next chapter to the vital and respected history of our Temple,” noted Steven Phillips, President of Temple Israel in a release.

Rabbi Friedman, who graduated with a BA in History from Yale University, began his career as a rabbinic intern at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York. 

After he received his ordination from Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 2004, he served as Director of Junior and Senior High School Programs for the Union for Reform Judaism and then as Assistant Rabbi at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey. 

Rabbi Friedman is adjunct faculty at Hebrew Union College and is a longtime member of Running Rabbis, a group that uses distance running to advance a variety of social causes, and has for the past two years guided visually impaired runners in the New York City Marathon.

“It is with great enthusiasm and delight that I accept the position of senior rabbi of Temple Israel," Rabbi Friedman said in a release. "I am honored to be invited to serve a community that has demonstrated such warmth, sophistication, insight and deep love of its synagogue.  It is a congregation with a great future.  I look forward to working with the staff and lay leadership to help Temple Israel become the very best that it can be.”

Rabbi Friedman will be married in May to Haley Lieberman, a costume designer and fashion stylist for film, theater and advertising. They look forward to beginning a new chapter in their own lives here, in our communities, in Fairfield County. 

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