Joseph Shalom Friedman

September 9, 1947 ~ June 6, 2022 (age 74) 74 Years Old

Joseph Friedman Obituary

The Washington DC Jewish Community lost a great leader and mentor on Monday, June 6, 2022; the second day of the holiday of Shavuot, when the beloved Rabbi Joseph Shalom Friedman passed away in his home in Rockville, Maryland surrounded by the love of his adoring family. 

He was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, on September 9, 1947, to Rabbi Samuel and Zehava Friedman, joining his older brothers Aaron and Emanuel (Manny).   

After graduating Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim (Talmudical Academy of Baltimore), which he attended along with Manny, he matriculated at The University of Maryland.  There, he graduated with a degree in History, and met his beloved wife-to-be, Elisabeth. He continued his education at Catholic University where he earned a Master’s in Education and used his skills to become a very popular first grade teacher at Parkview Elementary School in Washington, DC.  He then earned a Juris Doctor degree at Howard University Law School, which he later utilized to practice bankruptcy law to help those in need.  

He became an adjunct professor at American University Washington College of Law, where he taught comparative Jewish and American law, and was once voted the most popular law instructor on campus.  In 2007, he joined the family legacy and received semicha, (rabbinical ordination), from Ayshel Avraham Rabbinical Seminary, becoming the sixth generation of rabbis in the Friedman family.  

Rabbi Friedman and Elisabeth were known for their hospitality and inclusivity after moving to Olney, Maryland in 1973.  They became founding members of Congregation B’nai Shalom of Olney, and then created what is now known as Congregation Ohev Shalom of Olney.  A passionate dreamer, Rabbi Friedman facilitated the blossoming of a modest Olney neighborhood, transforming it into a thriving Jewish community.  

In 1979, he proudly launched a grass-roots community organization to champion Jewish values and American patriotism.  He was also an outspoken leader for Jewish causes such as advocacy for Israel and alleviating the plight of Soviet Jewry, as well as issues of concern to his local community.  Before there were online petitions, he personally collected thousands of signatures for the construction of safe hiking and biking paths in Olney, which are still in use to this day.  

  He devoted over 50 years to strengthening Jewish education in the Greater Washington area.  He personally tutored children; organized and led teacher training conferences; as well as served as a guest speaker throughout local and national congregations of all denominations.  In his family’s tradition of ecumenical good works, he was a weekly co-host on a national radio program devoted to teaching Bible to Jews and Christians in a spirit of faith and friendship.  He led an interactive adult education series at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, and had been a featured speaker at national conferences such as AJOP, the Board of Jewish Educators, and the Jewish Federation’s LearningFest in Dallas, TX.      

As an expression of his deep faith, he combined his insights in education, jurisprudence, and Torah learning in his book: “The Inside Story - Biblical Personalities,” a culmination of his scholarship, warmth, and humor.  

He is survived by his wife, his brother Manny, two children, four grandchildren, and beloved nephews and nieces.

He will forever be remembered by his family, friends, students, and community who will strive to continue to walk in his path and to bring honor to his legacy.

May he be remembered for a blessing. 

Charitable Contributions:
If you would like to honor his memory with a charitable contribution, please send a donation to the Rabbi Joseph Friedman Z”L Tzaar Baalei Chayim Initiative at GrowTorah.  This initiative provides education about compassion for animals from the perspective of Jewish tradition.
Online donations can be made at, or checks can be mailed to:
GrowTorah, Inc.
282 Elm Avenue
Teaneck NJ 07666
GrowTorah is a New Jersey 501 (c)(3) public charity with EIN 82-3282925

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Graveside Service
June 9, 2022

1:00 PM
Mt. Lebanon Cemetery
9500 Riggs Road
Adelphi, MD 20873


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