Monday, January 10, 2011

Honoring Debbie Freidman

Sunday I heard the news that Debbie Friedman had passed away. Hearing this sad news brought back so many memories of her songs, songs that I learned as a kid and that are still an important part of my life today.

On her website, Ms. Friedman is described as a pioneer.

Over the course of her distinguished career, legendary American Jewish composer, singer, and recording artist, Debbie Friedman, has released over 20 albums and performed in sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall and in hundreds of cities around the world. Her work has been lauded by industry critics and she has been honored by numerous national and international organizations with their most prestigious awards.
Debbie is credited with creating a whole new genre of contemporary, accessible Jewish music. From the beginning of her career, she has taken the prayers, teachings and melodies of the Ancient Jewish Texts and set them to contemporary music. Because of her own powerful commitment, her belief in the expression of the values found in the text, as well as the quality and beauty of her songwriting abilities, her music is beloved by people of all ages and religions. 
Debbie’s songs have universal appeal in part, because they “speak” to each listener in an intimate and personal way. One of the most famous, Mi Shebeirach (the prayer for healing), is sung in synagogues and churches across the nation.  Debbie’s music is now performed in synagogues around the world more than that of any other living composer.
Debbie Friedman has been a fixture in synagogues, camps, and with many, many American Jews of all ages. She taught us that prayer could be fun and singing from your heart for G-d was a truly spiritual experience.

Her songs have been a constant in my life. I first learned them in the summers at camp and still sing them today. They are the songs that I turn to when I feel almost every emotion. They are also the songs that help me connect to my new, more religious life and that help me to make Shabbat a truly special day in the week. 

Debbie Friedman's mark on the Jewish community is strong and deep and has helped many generations of children connect to the religion of their families. We are lucky to have had her.

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