Debbie Friedman, the much beloved singer/songwriter of “Jewish folk” music, has “joined”:http://www.huc.edu/newspubs/pressroom/07/6/friedman.shtml the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion as instructor in music at its NY campus.
It’s hard to overstate the role that “Friedman’s music”:http://www.debbiefriedman.com/ plays in the Reform Jewish world. She is the muse of legions of liberal Jews, inspiring many to connect with liturgy and Scripture in new ways. She also has a growing following in Conservative Jewish circles.
I got to chat with her a few years back, before she led a healing service at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale. I couldn’t help but be impressed with her earnestness and her good humor. She understood how important her music has become to so many and yet remained seriously down to earth.
She teared up a bit when telling me about people who said that her music had helped them get through terrible thing.
Then she led a typically moving healing service, something she had created from an attempt a decade earlier to adapt a healing prayer to music. Friedman has led hundreds of healing services Ã¢â‚¬â€ unstructured combinations of prayer, music, talk and meditation that aim to help people get through whatever they may be facing.
Friedman has recorded 19 albums and celebrated her 25th anniversary in music with a 1996 concert at Carnegie Hall.
She said this about her new teaching role:
It was kol isha (the voice of women) for col isha (every woman) that inspired me to write inclusive music. It is beneficial not only for women, but for men and children as well. Singing helps us learn how to be vocal. The more our voices are heard in song, the more we become our lyrics, our prayers, and our convictions.