Religions and Spirituality

Rabbi Emeritus Barry Friedman, Former Spiritual Leader of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, Passes Away at 78

Credits: Tina Greenberg, Communications Coordinator at Temple B’nai Abraham

LIVINGSTON, NJ - Earlier this week, the Jewish community in Livingston lost one of its leaders when Rabbi Emeritus Barry Friedman passed away at the age of 78.  Friedman, of Hopatcong, served as the spiritual leader at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston from 1977-1999.

For over 50 years he was involved with the synagogue, first in Newark and then in its current location in Livingston. He began serving the congregation in 1959 as youth director and teacher.  He worked as assistant rabbi to Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld at Fairmount Temple in Cleveland and then returned to B'nai Abraham to become Associate Rabbi to Dr. Joachim Prinz in 1968, then Senior Rabbi in 1977 and finally, Rabbi Emeritus in 1999.

One person who has known the rabbi for many years is Marilyn Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum, who has been a member of the congregation since she was a child, said Friedman was a great person and he will be missed.

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The rabbi had an extraordinary impact on the synagogue, she said. He helped make the Hebrew school extremely successful and was also instrumental in raising membership to 900 people at one point, she said.  

“He was very caring,” Rosenbaum said. “He was very concerned about his congregation. He was there for anyone who needed him. He was a hands-on rabbi.”

Friedman, who grew up in Philadelphia, knew from a young age he wanted to enrich and teach Jewish lives and become a rabbi. He obtained his B.A. and B.H.L. degrees at Yeshiva University, studied at Machon L’Madrichai Chutz La’Aretz in Jerusalem and was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Manhattan. Friedman then pursued his doctoral studies at Drew University and St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute in Baltimore.

As an undergraduate, he was Executive Director of the New Jersey Zionist Youth Commission and Assistant to the Director of the Philadelphia region of the State of Israel Bonds. Rabbi Friedman has written numerous highly regarded services commemorating holidays and historic events, and the Siddur Or Chadash—New Light prayer book. was told that during his tenure as Senior Rabbi of Temple B’nai Abraham, he led his congregation in its commitment to Zionism, dedication to the highest ethical and aesthetic standards of Jewish liturgy and education, commitment to the well-being of the Jewish people as well as its commitment to the entire community.  He helped the shul retain its unique and independent identity.  According to many, as its spiritual leader, he was a warm, compassionate and effective friend who cushioned the vicissitudes and heightened the joys of the congregation’s life cycle events.

He was active in the cause for peace, social justice and human rights. Rabbi Friedman served as president of the Jewish Peace Fellowship, as board member of the Citizens Council for Human Rights, as Chairperson of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam and as a member of the Joint Chaplaincy Commission.   He was a determined voice for understanding among all people, for “Tikkun Olam,” the universe, both in the inner community of Judaism as well as the world community

 He is survived by his wife Irene, three children, Aryeh, Adina and Aviva, and grandchildren, Nevona, Nadav, Elza Ruti and Zev. 

The funeral will be held Thursday, Oct. 11, at 11a.m., at Temple B’nai Abraham 300 E. Northfield Rd., Livingston.  Interment will be at Beth Israel Cemetery, Woodbridge. The family would like contributions to go to the Rabbi Barry Friedman Scholar-in -Residence Fund at Temple B’nai Abraham.

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