Our Rabbi

Rabbi John Franken


Rabbi John Franken came to Bolton Street Synagogue in 2012 following sojourns in St. Louis, Boston and Stamford, Connecticut, 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 Bolton Street by the congregation’s warmth, menschlichkeit, concern for social justice, and culture of caring and inclusion; by his affinity for Baltimore, where he attended law school; and by his desire to share his specialized skills in organizational behavior, strategy and development to help the Bolton Street community prepare for its next stage of growth.

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, Israel engagement, and caring community projects. Currently the president of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis, Rabbi Franken also serves as convener of the Interfaith Association of Roland Park and board member of the Baltimore Jewish Council. Previously he served as adjunct professor of Jewish law at the St. Louis University School of Law and Chair of the Moot Court Board at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law.  An avid traveler, Rabbi Franken has visited more than sixty countries. In his free time, he especially enjoys hiking, gardening, reading, theater and film.

 Email Rabbi Franken

Rabbi Franken’s Lifelong Learning Series


2016/5777 High Holiday Sermons:

Erev Rosh Hashanah – The Mirror

Rosh Hashanah Morning – Elections and the Moral Character of a Nation

Kol Nidre – God Talk

Yom Kippur Morning – Blessed Are You . . . Who Has Made me a (Reform) Jew