Rabbi Manis Friedman
February 14, 1946
Prague, Czech Republic
- Known For:
Co-founder of Bais Chana Women International
Rabbinical College of Canada
About Rabbi Manis Friedman
Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1946, Rabbi Manis Friedman’s full name is Menachem Manis HaKohen Friedman. Friedman’s father and grandfather, both rabbis, spent time in Siberian labor camps during World War 2. Following the war, Freidman’s father, Yakov Friedman, remained in Europe for a few years to assist Jewish refugees in securing visas.
In 1950, the Friedman family left Europe and moved to New York, where Friedman spent his childhood. He was one of eight children, all of whom went to school at Lubavitcher schools, which practice and teach the Lubavitcher branch of Hasidic Judaism.
At the age of 23, Friedman was ordained as a rabbi after attending the Rabbinical College of Canada. In 1971, he married his wife, Chana, and the two now have 14 children together.
Today, Friedman is the most popular rabbi on YouTube, with 1,800 videos posted and 253,000 subscribers. He posts videos about relationships, parenting, and Jewish philosophy. Since 2018, he has hosted The Manis Friedman Podcast: Ideas That Change the World.
Bais Chana Women International
Friedman co-founded the women’s educational institute Bais Chana Women International in 1971 with Rabbi Moshe Feller and his wife, Mindelle Feller. Friedman has served as a dean and a teacher at the institution since then.
After moving to Minnesota in the late 1960s to work as a youth director with the Fellers, Friedman and the Fellers felt there was a growing need for a school for Jewish women.
Friedman says, “Rabbi Feller invited college women to come learn for a summer on a whim. We sent out flyers to a couple of campuses in the Midwest, and to our surprise, 18 women showed up. The next summer, there were 42 women, and during the winter program, 101 women showed up.”
Since the early days of Bais Chana Women International, it has grown to include programs for college students, teenagers, single moms, and women over age 55.
In 2012, Rabbi Friedman published Doesn’t Anyone Blush Anymore? Reclaiming Modesty, Intimacy and Sexuality. The book discusses love and intimacy and maintains that traditional Jewish values concerning intimacy are relevant to the general public.
In the book, Friedman writes about modesty, saying, “It’s like the old question, ‘Do you lock your house to keep people out, or to protect what’s inside?’ Should a person act modestly and dress modestly in order to prevent intrusion from the outside, undesirable things from happening, or to preserve and maintain what is inside: the delicate and sensitive ability to have and maintain an intimate relationship.”
In 2018, Friedman released The Joy of Intimacy: A Soulful Guide to Love, Sexuality & Marriage, written with Ricardo Adler. The book states, “Intimacy is an art. It’s not something that just happens. It must be learned, cultivated, and practiced carefully if it is to flourish.”
In 2021, Friedman published Creating a Life that Matters: How to Live and Love with Meaning and Purpose with Rivka Goldstein. The book discusses how to find meaning in today’s world.
Friedman has drawn significant criticism from individuals inside and outside of the Jewish community for his comments regarding Holocaust victims, the Israeli-Arab conflict, and child abuse.
In 2013, Australian Jewish News reported that many in the Jewish community were upset by a 1980s lecture where Friedman claimed the Holocaust was part of a divine plan. In his address, he said, “Who in fact died and who remained alive had nothing to do with the Nazis. Not a single Jewish child died because of the Nazis . . . they died in their relationship with God.”
Friedman was also sued in a Jewish court for downplaying the seriousness of child sexual abuse. He encouraged individuals who experienced child abuse not to discuss it and said, “There is hardly a student who comes to a yeshivah . . . that hasn’t been molested.”
Manny Waks launched the lawsuit, claiming Friedman was “doing untold damage to the entire Jewish community. As a global leader, he is damaging the reputation of the Jewish community broadly. He is also perpetuating the negative perception many have of the ultra-Orthodox community.”
Friedman later apologized for his comments saying, “I want to apologize for my completely inappropriate use of language when discussing sexual abuse. I have always believed in the importance of empowering victims of all kinds to move forward in building their lives.”
Friedman’s comments on the Israli-Arab conflict also drew criticism when he said, “The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women, and children (and cattle).”
The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, the branch of Judaism Rabbi Friedman practices, released a statement saying they “vehemently disagree with any sentiment suggesting that Judaism allows for the wanton destruction of civilian life, even when at war. In keeping with Jewish law, it is the unequivocal position of Chabad-Lubavitch that all human life is G-d given, precious, and must be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion.”
Friedman later clarified saying, “Any neighbor of the Jewish people should be treated, as the Torah commands us, with respect and compassion. Fundamental to the Jewish faith is the concept that every human being was created in the image of G-d, and our sages instruct us to support the non-Jewish poor along with the poor of our own brethren.”
Rabbi Manis Friedman Today
Rabbi Manis Friedman continues to serve as the dean of the Bais Chana Institute. He is still teaching individuals and couples in the Jewish community through lectures, YouTube videos, and private coaching. He also regularly posts content to his educational website, It’s Good to Know, and speaks at conferences and events worldwide. Friedman currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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- Friedman, M. (n.d.). Manis Friedman – Biography. Jewage. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.jewage.org/wiki/ru/Article:Manis%20Friedman%20-%20Biography?embedded=true&textonly=1
- Fried, A. Chabad.org. (2004, April). Rabbi Yakov Moshe Friedman. Chabad.org. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/133161/jewish/Rabbi-Yakov-Moshe-Friedman.htm
- Besser, Y. (2013, March 20). On the Wings of a Song. Mishpacha Magazine. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://mishpacha.com/on-the-wings-of-a-song/
- Chabad of Mid-Suffolk. (n.d.). Rabbi Manis Friedman Bio. Chabad of Mid-Suffolk. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.chabadmidsuffolk.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/2480575/jewish/Rabbi-Manis-Friedman-Bio.htm
- Osborne, E. (2016, November 18). TV’s Rabbi Manis Friedman to offer advice on having good life. The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.news-journalonline.com/story/lifestyle/faith/2016/11/18/tvs-rabbi-manis-friedman-to-offer-advice-on-having-good-life/24518116007/
- Rabbi Manis Friedman. (n.d.). YouTube. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnkB28NTo_OxXTYjCUv7m5Q
- The Rabbi Manis Friedman Podcast. (n.d.). Apple Podcasts. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-rabbi-manis-friedman-podcast/id1401061816
- Horowitz, R. Chabad.org. (2021, March 24). Minnesota School for Jewish Women Marks 50 Years With Tribute to the Rebbe. Chabad.org. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/5085366/jewish/Minnesota-School-for-Jewish-Women-Marks-50-Years-With-Tribute-to-the-Rebbe.htm
- Bais Chana Women International. (n.d.). About. Bais Chana. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://baischana.org/about/
- Friedman, M. (1992). Doesn’t anyone blush anymore?: Reclaiming intimacy, modesty, and sexuality. New York: HarperSanFrancisco.
- Friedman, M., & Adler, R. (2018). Joy of intimacy: A soulful guide to love, sexuality, & marriage. New York, NY: It’s Good to Know Publishing.
- Friedman, M., & Goldstein, R. (2021). Creating a life that matters: How to live and love with meaning and purpose. Brooklyn, NY: It’s Good to Know Publishing.
- Jacks. T. (2013, February 18). Survivors outrage over US rabbi. Australian Jewish News. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.australianjewishnews.com/survivors-outrage-over-us-rabbi/
- Zwartz, B. AAP. (2013, February 1). Sex abuse victims sue rabbi over comments. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.smh.com.au/national/sex-abuse-victims-sue-rabbi-over-comments-20130131-2dnks.html
- Jacks, T. (2013, February 11). Offensive US rabbi has history in Oz. Australian Jewish News. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.australianjewishnews.com/offensive-us-rabbi-has-history-in-oz/
- Lowenfeld, J. (2013, January 31). Rabbi Friedman Under Fire. Jewish Journal. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://jewishjournal.com/news/united-states/112554/
- Erin. (2020, May 23). Rabbi Manis Friedman denounced for his article on waging war the Jewish way. American Jewish World News. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.ajwnews.com/rabbi-manis-friedman-denounced-for-his-article-on-waging-war-the-jewish-way/
- Friedman, M. (2013, January 28). A Statement from Rabbi Friedman. Moment Magazine. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://momentmag.com/a-statement-from-rabbi-friedman/
- It’s Good to Know. (n.d.). Welcome to It’s Good to Know. It’s Good to Know. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://itsgoodtoknow.org/
- Facebook. (n.d.). Manis Friedman. Facebook. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from https://www.facebook.com/ManisFriedman/about
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