Rabbi Jonathan Freirich
I believe Judaism should be welcoming, warm and fun. Every encounter is a chance to open a door and bring Jews and those who care about Jews into a world of greater meaning and connection. With a deep commitment to the dynamic and progressive history, culture, and religion of the Jewish people, I try to meet to Jews where they are (whether that is on a ski slope, cafe, or the synagogue) and to give them access to Judaism's vibrant culture and ritual to bring meaning and understanding to our lives.
My family of origin is your typical complicated American family with lots of step-siblings and in-laws representing multiple religious and ethnic identities - what a blessing! I fell in love with and then later married a non-Jewish woman who converted to Judaism and is now a professional Jewish artist (see her work at ketubah-arts.com) and a caring rebbitzen. We have a wonderful son, Jude, age 4, and are trying to help him navigate through the complications of being an empowered Jew in a non-Jewish world.
Originally from New York City, I received ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1999. I received a BA in Philosophy from Middlebury College in 1992. I lived and studied in Israel at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and WUJS in Arad, as well as volunteering at several kibbutzim, and at the Knesset. Since becoming a rabbi, I have worked with varied age groups and interests, including college students, unaffiliated Jewish 20- and 30-somethings, residents at a home for the aged, Jewish prisoners in a Nevada state prison, a small mountain resort congregation, and now I have become Associate Rabbi at a large Reform congregation in Charlotte, NC.
Since July 2011, I serve Temple Beth El (beth-el.com), the largest congregation in the Carolinas, and one of the most exciting and welcoming places to be Jewish anywhere. I look forward to contributing to this amazing family of families.