Jonathan Friedman was named Temple Beth El’s first-ever Chief Operating Officer (COO). Moira Quinn Klein and Adam Bernstein, Co-Chairs of the COO Search Committee, sat down with Jonathan to discuss what was most attractive about this position and what has been most rewarding since he started on April 25.
- What compelled you to apply for TBE’s first-ever COO role?
I have a deep desire to contribute to the spiritual well-being of the Charlotte community and I was inspired by ’s dedication and effectiveness in this endeavor. We live in a time plagued by fear, and in an era of extraordinary challenges. Amidst all of this, I believe that through cultivating an appreciation for the divine in our everyday lives (and particularly in one another) we can find a path towards more fulfilling lives and more resilient communities. My strong hope is that through this role, I can help others feel this too.
Over the past six years, I have had the pleasure of volunteering extensively across Shalom Park institutions. I have been inspired by the fantastic professional and lay leaders I have met and worked alongside in Charlotte, and I am proud of what these amazing teams, and those who came before us, achieved together. So, when this opportunity arose, it felt like a calling for me.
- What has the first month on the job been like?
It’s been fantastic. The entire Temple Beth El team and congregation have been incredibly welcoming. I have enjoyed getting into the business of Temple Beth and learning more about the many amazing groups, programs, and experiences that bring the community together at Temple Beth El. Our team is so focused on the mission, and I am enjoying getting to work on ways to enhance our operations.
- What is the most rewarding part of your day/week?
Getting to meet with congregants is especially rewarding. I feel so lucky to welcome people into their spiritual home.
- The staff is a group of remarkable and welcoming people. How did they make you feel welcome?
From the moment I walked in the door, the staff immediately treated me as part of the team. There is a great culture in the office, and everyone enthusiastically helped me get up to speed quickly so that I could start to have a positive impact.
- The congregation is special as well. How did the congregation and/or lay leadership make you feel welcome?
I have been grateful for such a kind reception from so many members of the congregation and leadership. From expressing excitement to offering words of wisdom to volunteering to help with upcoming initiatives, I feel greatly supported. My very first official phone call on my first day was from Temple Beth El’s First Vice-President Alan Kronovet, who reached out first thing in the morning to give some words of encouragement.
I also appreciated a warm welcome from other professionals around Shalom Park, and I am so excited to be working with them. We are so fortunate to have such a talented group of committed leaders who work so hard together to make Charlotte a vibrant Jewish community.
- What is the biggest opportunity for Temple Beth El as you start your new role?
The greatest opportunity is that we have the chance to be back together at various events after long years of isolation during COVID-19 and to reengage with each other. Whether at small group events , in prayer, event), I am excited for people to get involved. Our future success will rely on the relationships with each other and coming together as a community. I want everyone to know that they have a spiritual home at Temple Beth El and to feel a deep connection with the congregation. I am excited for 2023 as we celebrate Temple Beth El’s 80th anniversary.
- What is the one thing you want people to know about you that they might not?
I love to cook (and eat). My Bubbe worked in kosher catering for many years, and I am always happy to talk about cooking, Jewish or otherwise.
- You and your wife Rachel just welcomed a new baby girl into your family. (You are now seriously outnumbered by females in the house!) What’s the best part of having a house full of young children?
There is never a dull moment, and I am enjoying getting to relive fun childhood memories from books to farm visits to video games. It’s so rewarding to get to teach our kids about the world around them and to mold them into caring and compassionate humans.