Rabbi on demand

August 1, 2022 by Henry Benjamin
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Rabbi Yossi Friedman will cease to be the spiritual leader of Sydney’s Maroubra Shule and retire from his engagement at Mount Sinai College on November 1 but no particular pulpit is waiting for his considerable talent.

Rabbi Yossi Friedman and Rebbitzin Chana Raizel and their family

Instead, Rabbi Friedman sees Jews without affiliation to any synagogue in the entire conurbation of Sydney as his congregation.

In the Gen17 survey of Australia’s known Jewish community, 43% were not affiliated with a synagogue.

Enter Rabbi On Demand Yossi Friedman and his Rebbetzin Chana Raizel.

The 36-yr-old rabbi was born and bred in Sydney. At 22, he took up the position of Youth Rabbi at the city’s Central Synagogue. Four years later, he left to lead the congregation at Cremorne, a position he held for three years before assuming the spiritual leadership at Maroubra.

J-Wire asked Rabbi Friedman what drove this move from the comfort of a caring community to the big unknown.

He said: “Many years of working within the community and observations and reflections of some of the challenges that we have, not just within the community, but within individuals in the broader community made me realise that there was a need to help. The majority of  the Jews  living in New South Wales don’t have a rabbi and don’t belong to a shule.

And I think that has exacerbated many problems, and I can see the future much closer with so many not connected to a rabbi or a shule. I just felt the need to try something different. And to go out there and try something new and modernised ways of outreach and engagement.

Generally, we live in a society where religiosity is declining.”

We asked Rabbi Friedman how he sees his new role.

He responded: “I am seeking to provide personalised, joyous, meaningful Jewish ceremonies – Jewish experiences for people when they need them.

When people need to engage, I’ll be there to assist them in whatever they feel they need from a rabbi.

I will provide a different style of service, one that’s on demand.  It will be delivered to your home, to your venue, wherever it may be, wherever you need a rabbi, whether it be a wedding, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah or a funeral.”

Rabbi Yossi Friedman is an orthodox Jew but says he will deliver whatever type of Judaism his future clients prefer.

He continued: “I would set them up with whoever can fulfil the client’s needs. I would guide them to any branch of Judaism or whatever style of service they would like.

If they wanted my services, I would provide them.  If they wanted a traditional service, I would send them to a traditional shule.  Or reform. The main thing is that it’s meaningful to them…the ceremony, the event, the experience.”

Social media will be important in getting the word out that Rabbi Friedman’s services are available. He believes that the Sydney community is small enough for the word to be spread through referrals but social media will have a major part to play with its younger members.

But it is not just life’s milestones that interest Rabbi Friedman. With religiosity on the wane, he is a rabbi for all things and looks forward to returning wandering members of the community to the fold.

He has spoken to colleagues and all are aware of the rabbi on demand and ready to help.

In the meantime, it will not be a sudden stop of his work at Maroubra. He will continue to assist the congregation as it seeks a new rabbi, and he seeks the comfort of returning a Jewish life to those who have no community.

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