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Our Clergy

Rabbi John Franken, Interim Senior Rabbi

Rabbi John Franken arrived at Judea Reform Congregation following sojourns in Washington, Baltimore, Stamford, Boston, and St. Louis, where he introduced services that aspire to be spiritual, participatory and joyful. Meaningful worship, he explains, is essential to creating an ethos in which everyone feels emotionally, spiritually and intellectually swept up in the sacred life and destiny of the Jewish people. He was drawn to Judea by the congregation’s warmth, menschlichkeit, concern for social justice, culture of caring and inclusion, and by his desire to share his skills as a transitional senior rabbi Judea community prepare for its next stage of development.

As a rabbinic student, Rabbi Franken divided his studies between New York and Jerusalem where he was a fellow at the Hebrew University. In addition to rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he holds degrees in Hebrew Literature (M.A., HUC-JIR), law (J.D., University of Maryland, with honor), and Political Science (B.A., Tufts University, summa cum laude).

Rabbi Franken is especially active in outreach, social justice, youth and adult education, and Israel engagement. Among his communal activities, he has served as President of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis and the big brother to an amazing ten-year old. An avid traveler, Rabbi Franken has visited more countries than he can count and, as a student, served Jewish communities in several of them. He enjoys hiking (most recently, at Mont Blanc), all forms of learning and discovery, books, drama and film.  

Reach Rabbi Franken 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.

Sat, June 15 2019 12 Sivan 5779