RABBI Yossi Friedman has made the “very hard decision” to step down from Maroubra Synagogue after seven years.
Rabbi Friedman said it’s been a privilege to guide the Maroubra community and watch it grow, particularly during the challenging COVID years, and he will remain with the shule until the end of the year.
Having worked in the community for close to 15 years, he said he has observed “weakening affiliations” to traditional Judaism among younger generations and he plans to offer an entry point by providing an “on-demand service”.
“My thinking is that with 50,000 Jews in NSW, the vast majority who don’t have a rabbi and who don’t have the connection with a traditional Jewish institution, how are we going to reach them?” Rabbi Friedman told The AJN.
“It’s early days, but the rabbi will come to you and bring a bespoke Jewish experience to you as a way of engaging with those who need it, when they need it.
“It’s also about engaging with the younger generation and perhaps using technology in a way to be able to bring Judaism, or Jewish experiences, to them.”
He plans to work alongside the synagogues to strengthen their communities, and in turn strengthen the overall Jewish community by providing a way for Jews to engage on their terms, “in the hope that it will spur on greater connection and greater affiliation in the long term”.
“I’ve seen the younger families who are not connecting and who have other demands on their time and on their resources,” he said.
“For instance, the property market is so hard that it can be hard to pay a (shule) membership, or when you’re trying to send your kids to a private day school, so this will hopefully be an entry point for those Jews.”
Rabbi Friedman said he and his wife Chana Raizel have “loved every second” of their time with the Maroubra community.
“We’re completely on the same page and she has just been incredible,” he said.
“She has made an amazing contribution to the Maroubra and Mount Sinai communities, as well as to all the communities I have served. She’s a wonder woman.”
Maroubra Synagogue president Evan Koseff paid tribute to the Friedmans, while announcing their departure “with a heavy heart”.
“In the past seven years, our community has grown in many ways,” Koseff said.
“We have also navigated through a challenging COVID-19 period. Through this all, Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman have led from the front. The positive and substantial impact they have had on our shule and Mount Sinai College communities has been felt by all.”