WESTPORT – Rabbi Michael S. Friedman was installed as senior rabbi of Temple Israel in Westport on Sept. 12 Friday evening services. Rabbi Friedman has been serving the 64-year-old Reform congregation since July 1, but the official welcome and celebration were planned as part of a special weekend this month.
Before joining Temple Israel, Friedman was associate rabbi at Central Synagogue, in New York City, one of the largest Jewish congregations in North America. Peter J. Rubinstein, rabbi emeritus of Central Synagogue, who has been ranked as one of “America’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis” by Newsweek magazine, participated in the installation, as did Temple Israel’s rabbi emeritus, Rabbi Robert J. Orkand, who recently retired after 30 years of service to the congregation and the community.
“It is with great enthusiasm and delight that I accept the position of senior rabbi of Temple Israel,” said Friedman at the installation ceremony. “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.”
A graduate of Yale University with a B.A. in History, Friedman began his career as a rabbinic intern at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, N.Y. After receiving 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, N.J. During his six-year tenure at Central Synagogue, he made many important and lasting contributions to youth engagement, adult learning, interfaith outreach and community involvement.