New TI rabbi seeks to build connections and share the Torah’s wisdom

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Some children know their life path from an early age. That is certainly true of Rabbi Micah R. Friedman, the new spiritual leader of Temple Israel. “I first considered becoming a rabbi when I was a child sitting in a Torah study class in my family’s synagogue in Tampa,” he said in an e-mail interview. “We were reading from the parasha together, posing questions and referencing classical commentators on the Torah like Rashi and Ramban. As I engaged in conversations with elders around the table, I felt a powerful sense of how we were sustaining an intergenerational Jewish conversation about what matters in life.”

This sensation stayed with him and even increased over the years. “As I grew into adulthood, I fell more deeply in love with the wisdom literatures of Jewish tradition and our evolving practices of observance,” Friedman noted. “Training for the rabbinate called to my heart as a pathway of deepening my personal experience of Judaism through devoting myself to the service of Jewish communities, the larger communities of which we are a part, and our Blessed Creator.”

Friedman is a graduate of the Hebrew College located in Newton, MA, although he also learned Torah at Pardes, Hadar and Drisha in New York City and Jerusalem. “I spent five years studying full-time in the wonderful Beit Midrash of Hebrew College, a pluralistic Boston-area institution of Jewish learning,” he said. “Like a growing number of Jews who are considering becoming rabbis, I was drawn to Hebrew College because of their dedication to empowering students to encounter traditional Jewish sources in their original Hebrew and Aramaic, at the same time welcoming every kind of question and consideration into the house of learning.”

He added, “I hope and pray that through my work as a rabbi, I can support people in connecting to Jewish wisdom, Jewish practice and Jewish people. I dream of Jewish communities where we all feel responsible for each other’s well-being because we are deeply grounded in relationships with each other, even when we are very different.”

Friedman noted that “Torah is the heart and soul of Jewish tradition, and Torah is all about guiding us to work together to live out our aspirations for a better world. I aspire to invite people of all backgrounds to become learners and lovers of Torah and to contribute to the ongoing unfolding of Torah in our time.”

His first task at Temple Israel is to get to know the members of his congregation. “At the advice of mentors from Boston, my first goal has been to meet and get to know as many members of the community as possible!” he said. “Though I have been blessed to hear stories from so many people already in my first few weeks, I am still in the beginning of this work. So, please, regardless of whether or not you are a member of Temple Israel, feel free to reach out to me and I would love to connect with you!” To arrange an appointment, e-mail him at or book an appointment here.

Friedman wasted no time sharing his love of Jewish learning, which he considers “central to my sense of calling to the rabbinate.” He began with a class on the “Fundamentals and Flairs of Jewish Prayer” that was held throughout August. “Later in the year, I hope to organize a class for reading and comprehending Hebrew for adults who have either never learned Hebrew or have forgotten much of the learning of previous years,” he noted. “I also intend to offer classes to teach people to read Torah and lead davening.”

In addition, he is working on “renewing our programs and offerings for children! I will be directing our educational efforts for kids before and after b’nai mitzvah, and working to foster community for children and families in the area. In Boston, I worked with children and families in four different synagogues, each with a different orientation, and I will draw from these experiences to create awesome experiences for young Jews in our area!”

Friedman concluded by noting his biggest goals: “To get to know the Jewish community of this area, as well as the general community, to share from the wisdom of our Jewish tradition and to work together to build new connections to reinvigorate and strengthen the community!”