Rabbi John Franken arrived at Temple Shalom following sojourns in St. Louis, Boston, Stamford and Baltimore, where he introduced services that aspire to be spiritual, participatory and joyful. Meaningful worship, he explains, is essential to creating an ethos in which everyone feels emotionally, spiritually and intellectually swept up in the sacred life and destiny of the Jewish people. He was drawn to Temple Shalom by the congregation’s warmth, menschlichkeit, concern for social justice, and culture of caring and inclusion; by his affinity for Maryland, where he once studied and practiced law; and by his desire to share his skills in organizational behavior and strategy to help the Temple Shalom community reflect and prepare for its next stage of development.
As a rabbinic student, Rabbi Franken divided his studies between New York and Jerusalem where he was a fellow at the Hebrew University. In addition to rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he holds degrees in Hebrew Literature (M.A., HUC-JIR), law (J.D., University of Maryland, with honor), and Political Science (B.A., Tufts University, summa cum laude).
Rabbi Franken is especially active in outreach, social justice, youth and adult education, and Israel engagement. In the community, he most recently served as President of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis and Convener of the Interfaith Association of Roland Park, and is a big brother to an amazing ten-year old. An avid traveler, Rabbi Franken has visited more countries than he can count and, as a student, served Jewish communities in several of them. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, all forms of learning and discovery, books, drama and film.