Michael S. Friedman, Senior Rabbi
Rabbi Michael Friedman began his tenure as the Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel on July 1, 2014. Rabbi Friedman grew up in Great Neck, New York and graduated with a BA in History from Yale University. He began his career as a rabbinic intern at Westchester Reform Temple, in Scarsdale, New York. After he received his ordination from Hebrew Union College –Jewish Institute of Religion in 2004, he served as Director of Junior and Senior High School Programs for the Union for Reform Judaism and then as Assistant Rabbi at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey. From 2008- 2014 he was the Associate Rabbi at Central Synagogue in New York City, one of our movement’s leading congregations, where he has made many important and lasting contributions to their efforts in youth engagement, adult learning, interfaith outreach, and community involvement.
In addition to his deep commitment to pastoral and congregational work, Rabbi Friedman brings his energetic passion for worship, education, social action and innovative thinking about the meaning of Judaism and synagogue life in the 21st Century. He is adjunct factulty at Hebrew Union college and life member of Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship, which studies ways to engage those beyond the synagogue walls in Jewish life. He is also a long-time participant in Running Rabbis, a group that uses distance running to advance a variety of social causes, and has for the past three years guided visually impaired runners in the New York City Marathon.
Rabbi Friedman is married to Haley Lieberman, a costume designer and fashion stylist for film, theater and advertising.
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Dan Sklar, Cantor
Cantor Sklar comes to Temple Israel after serving as Rabbi/Cantor at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY. Cantor Sklar was invested as cantor from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2006 and ordained as rabbi in 2008. During cantorial school and rabbinic school, he served congregations Oheb Sholom (Reading, PA), Temple Concord (Binghamton, NY), Temple Sinai (Stamford, CT) and Shaaray Tefila (New York, NY).
Prior to Hebrew Union College, Cantor Sklar pursued a career in musical theater and has performed in regional theater and a Broadway national tour. He has also participated in numerous concert events including cantorial concerts at Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall.
Cantor Sklar is a member of the American Conference of Cantors, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the New York Board of Rabbis.
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P.J. Schwartz, Assistant Rabbi
Rabbi P.J. Schwartz was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-HIR) in Cincinnati, OH in June 2013 and was the recipient of the Ferdinand M. Isserman Prize awarded to the senior rabbinical student who best contributes to the development of community relations. While at HUC-JIR, P.J. served student congregations in Marion, Indiana, Ishpeming, Michigan, and Marion, Ohio. He also served in numerous capacities as a teacher, Schusterman Rabbinic Fellow, and Rabbinic Intern for Isaac M. Wise Temple where he taught Religious School and Hebrew School, led regular Saturday morning services and Torah study, and adult education. He also pursued Clinical Pastoral Education and trained as a chaplain for Christ Hospital in the summer of 2010 and a Rabbinic chaplain for Jewish Family Service in Cincinnati, OH. Rabbi Schwartz wrote his rabbinic thesis on the traditional and contemporary understandings of kavannah (intentionality, thoughtfulness, and devotion) in Jewish worship.
In addition to his studies at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Schwartz received a Master's in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Jewish Education at Xavier University. He is a frequent contributor to the Union of Reform Judaism's weekly e-newsletter, Ten Minutes of Torah and is an active member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE), and New CAJE.
Rabbi Schwartz grew up in Greenville, SC and is a 2007 graduate of the College of Charleston, where he majored in Religious Studies. In college, he served as a board member of the Jewish Student Union/Hillel as well as was on the executive committee of the local chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity. He also was a teacher, assistant youth group advisor, and Religious Studies intern at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. Following his college graduation, P.J. began his rabbinical studies at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, Israel, before returning to the Cincinnati campus to finish his studies.
Rabbi Schwartz is married to his college sweetheart, Michelle, a special education teacher.
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Robert J. Orkand, Rabbi Emeritus
Rabbi Robert Orkand served Temple Israel as its Senior Rabbi from 1982 until his retirement in June of 2013.Born in Los Angeles, CA, Rabbi Orkand earned a B.A. in 1967 from California State University at Northridge. He earned a BHL and a MHL from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion and was ordained from HUC - JIR in 1973. Following his ordination, he served in Miami, Florida and Rockford, Illinois, before coming to Westport.In March of 1998, Rabbi Orkand was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree by Hebrew Union College, recognizing 25 years of service to the Reform Movement.
Rabbi Orkand is the past President of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and is past Chair of the National Commission on Jewish Education for the Reform Movement. He was one of the founding clergy of CONNECT, an interfaith community organizing group in CT.He was a member of the national Camp Commission of the Reform Movement, the Publications Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Small Cities Committee of the CCAR, and has chaired the Program Committee of Eisner Camp Institute in Great Barrington, MA. He is co-chair of the Rabbinic Council of the Association of Reform Zionists of America/World Union for Progressive Judaism. He has co-authored three prayer books for children: Gates of Wonder, Gates of Awe (with Joyce Orkand and Rabbi Howard Bogot) and A Children's Haggadah (with Rabbi Howard Bogot).
Locally, the Rabbi has served as president of United Way, as a member of the Board of Directors of UJA/Federation, as a member of the Human Services Commission of the Town of Westport, the Youth Commission of the Town of Westport, and as President of the Westport-Weston Clergy Association.
Rabbi Orkand is married to Joyce and is the father of Seth who is married to Kate and is the grandfather to two granddaughters Noa and Sarah.
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Richard B. Silverman, Cantor Emeritus
Cantor Richard B. Silverman was the Cantor of Temple Israel from 1988 until his retirement in June of 2012. Cantor Silverman holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from California State University in Northridge California, a Bachelor of Sacred Music degree from the Hebrew Union College and a Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology from John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California. Cantor Silverman has a Certificate in Chemical Dependence and Spiritual Counseling also from the Hebrew Union.
Cantor Silverman received his Honorary Doctorate in Music from the Hebrew Union College on March 14, 2000. Cantor Silverman served as Cantor at Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles from 1968-1976 and at Temple Isaiah of Lafayette, California from 1976-1988. He is a well-known composer in the Jewish community and has written over 200 songs. Many of his melodies, including Etz Chayim – Tree of Life and his Mi Chamocha are sung throughout the world in synagogues and Jewish camps. He has published a songbook of his music. Cantor Silverman is a member of the URJ Commission on Social Action.
Cantor Silverman is married to Batya and has a daughter, Sarit, and a son, Elan, married to Heather and grandchildren Sarah, Emi and Jacob.
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