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Our Clergy

Rabbi Matthew V. Soffer, Senior Rabbi 


Rabbi Matthew V. Soffer lives in Durham with his wife and two children.

Rabbi Soffer was ordained as a graduate of the New York Campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He served at Temple Israel of Boston since 2009, beginning as a rabbinic intern and finishing as Senior Associate Rabbi. As a Student Rabbi, he served at Main Line Reform Temple and Congregation Beth Elohim, both in New York. His work has included portfolios in Social Jusice and in outreach to and engagement of Jews in their 20s and 30s.

Among his honors are the Religious Action Center's 50 Faces of Justice, Newsweek/Daily Beast's 10 Rabbi's to Watch, and NFTY President's Award. His publications include "Global Swarming: Can We Become Worthy of Creation," CCAR Press, 2017; several commentaries and essays on My Jewish Learning, on Reform, and in The Times of Israel. His work also includes music composition and performance, comedy, and community organizing.

The topic of his Rabbinic Thesis, “Listening for Laughter: Sensing Humor in the Babylonian Talmud,” is a wonderful window on his character and style.

You can follow him on Twitter @MattSoffer and listen to his podcast, Pulpit on the Commons.

Contact Stacy Lubov at to schedule an appointment with Rabbi Soffer.

Reach Rabbi Soffer at or (919) 489-7062, ext 231.

John Friedman, Rabbi Emeritus

Rabbi John Friedman retired in June 2015 after enthusiasticly leading us for 35 years. He and his wife, Dr. Nan Friedman, still live in Durham and participate, actively in the life of Judea Reform Congregation. His son, Josh, and his daughter, Abby, grew up here.

Rabbi Friedman was born in Kansas City and studied at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem and Cincinnati where he was ordained in 1976, and from where he received an honorary doctorate. After four years at Emanuel Congregation in Chicago, he came to North Carolina to serve Judea Reform. Rabbi Friedman taught and will continue to teach adults and children through our many synagogue programs.

He has received the Martin Luther King Jr. Keeper of the Dream Award, the Durham Better Human Relations Award and the Elna Spaulding Medal for Social Justice awards for his work in our community. In 1994, Rabbi Friedman was a Charles Merrill Fellow at Harvard University. In 2009, Rabbi Friedman was honored to receive the Daniel Jeremy Silver Fellowship at Harvard University. 

Rabbi Friedman has served as president of Durham Congregations in Action and the Mid-Atlantic Association of Reform Rabbis, and has been a popular speaker for many civic and religious groups. He has also served as chair of the Interreligious Affairs Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and as National Chair and Co-chair of the Rabbinic Cabinet of JStreet. Rabbi Friedman has written articles that have been published in "The Journal of Reform Judaism," "Brotherhood Magazine," "Judaism," "Compass" and others. Most recently, in May 2015, he was honored as a Rabbinic Human Rights Hero by T'ruah (Rabbis for Human Rights, NA).

For the 2014-2015 academic year, Rabbi Friedman served as Marcus Center Director’s Fellow at the American Jewish Archives of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.  He worked on a project concerning the theology and practice of early Reform Judaism in America.

Reach Rabbi Friedman at or (919) 489-7062, ext 246.

Thu, June 17 2021 7 Tammuz 5781