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Edward Friedman

We are pleased to welcome Rabbi Edward Friedman and his wife Janice to Aurora. Rabbi Friedman is the new spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Israel. He brings to the position many years of experience in a variety of congregations, a deep knowledge of Jewish tradition, as well as a strong and melodious voice to chant the prayers and read the sacred texts. Come join us on Shabbat to hear Rabbi Friedman’s words and melodies.

The rabbi was born and raised in Connecticut and received a strong Jewish education in the Conservative congregation in which he grew up, Rodeph Sholom of Bridgeport. In his youth, he attended Camp Ramah in Connecticut, was active in various programs for young people in the synagogue, and took advantage of a number of supplementary opportunities for Jewish learning. From an early age, he learned to lead services, read Torah, haftarah, and the megillot, and to sound the shofar. His love of Judaism led inevitably to his career choice in the rabbinate.

Rabbi Friedman is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America from which he was ordained. In 2002, the Seminary presented him with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition of over 25 years of service in the rabbinate. He also spent two of his academic years studying in Jerusalem and has gone back to visit Israel on a number of occasions.

Following his ordination, he began his career in Dallas, Texas, where he met his wife and her then four-year-old son, Aaron Levy. The rabbi and Janice have been married for over 36 years. After seven years as Assistant, then Associate Rabbi in Dallas he went on to serve as senior rabbi in a number of other congregations including synagogues in Northampton, MA; Charleston, SC; Bloomfield, CT; Manchester, NH; and Andover, MA. Most recently, he served in Freehold, NJ, as rabbi of the Freehold Jewish Center.

The rabbi has been active in many community organizations and has presided over several rabbinic and interfaith clergy and lay associations in different cities through the years. He has coordinated the Greater Carolinas Association of Rabbis annual Interfaith Institute at Wildacres Retreat Center in North Carolina for more than 15 years.

Rabbi Friedman is the author of two chapters in the volume The Observant Life published by the Rabbinical Assembly. They are the chapters on caring for animals and relating to people with disabilities. He has also published some articles in Jewish periodicals. He is currently working on a volume drawing on wisdom from the Midrash, the rabbinic narrative tradition.

The rabbi is a voracious reader of both Judaica and secular literature. His large library collection includes not only Hebrew works and various Judaic texts, but also among the secular volumes is a full collection of the works of Mark Twain and many volumes about him. When he gets around to exercising, the rabbi enjoys swimming.

His wife Janice is an ordained Interfaith Peace Minister as is the rabbi, and she has worked for many years as a disability rights advocate. She is a professional photographer and has many other artistic skills to her credit. Their son Aaron is a professional musician, song writer, and music teacher.

Feel free to contact Rabbi Friedman at the synagogue and he would be glad to meet with you. He is more than willing to arrange times to teach on a variety of topics with individuals or groups whether or not they have chosen to become members.


Committed to Contemporary Jewish Life

Although the congregation officially formed in 1904, the first permanent building in downtown Aurora was constructed in 1927. The present structure on the far west side of the city became Temple B'nai Israel's home in 1961.

Congregants are of diverse ages, from young families to households with teens and college students, from singles and couples to senior citizens. Currently we have about 100 members. Because individual congregants’ affiliations reach from Reform to Conservative to Traditional, we often provide more than one service to help meet their spiritual needs.

Services are held for all holidays. Shabbat services are offered every Friday evening and Saturday morning. We provide a traditional service every Saturday morning. Shabbat Chaverim’s Reform service is held monthly, led by Rabbinic Aide, Cindy Michelassi.  Our prayer books provide full transliteration and the readings are in English. All Friday night services are also egalitarian.

Throughout the year, we offer a wide variety of family and adult learning opportunities as well as social experiences. From holiday celebrations, Hebrew classes, Bar Mitzvah training, speaker events, Friday night dinners, social events, movie night, Shabbat on the Road, and our annual community seder.  You'll always find something enriching to do on our busy monthly calendar.


Vision Statement

Temple B’nai Israel is a congregation that welcomes the diversity of Jewish beliefs and practices into our synagogue life. We are delighted to include families and individuals of varying backgrounds and identities who wish to share in the joy of Jewish tradition. We happily welcome non-Jewish partners, guests, and spiritual seekers of different traditions, to join in all synagogue activities. For over a century, we have brought together people from the cities and towns of the western suburbs of Chicago for prayer, study, fellowship, community service, and fun.


It is our hope that you can find your niche in the diversity of our community where we offer:

  • Different services that follow Reform, Conservative, and Traditional rituals for Shabbat and Festival gatherings throughout the year

  • Jewish learning, Torah study, Hebrew, and other educational opportunities, in our meeting spaces, library and classrooms

  • Commitment to fostering interfaith relations and support of social action and community efforts

  • A place where our ongoing social gatherings are a significant element of our identity as a Jewish community

  • A full-time rabbinic presence to guide us through life-cycle events and in our daily lives, to teach us Torah, and to lead our worship services


In these and in many other ways, we seek to offer opportunities to relate to the Divine and to our people, each in our unique way.


Temple B'nai Israel takes pride in our community involvement — get in touch with us today to learn more about our services, classes and facilities.

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