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Debbie Friedman

(1952 - 2011)


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Debbie Friedman was a Jewish American singer, composer and recording artist famous for her Jewish liturgical and folk music.

Debbie Friedman was born in 1952, in Utica, New York. Inspired by singers such as Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, at a young age she began playing the guitar and by the time she was twenty she was composing her own music. In the early 1970s, she started writing Jewish liturgical music as a group song leader at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Olin-Sang- Ruby Union Institute summer camp. Her first piece of music was written to the words of the V’ahftah and she released her first album, Sing Unto God, in 1972. During the 1970s and 80s, she served as a congregational cantor and teacher, traveling all over the country.

On January 7, 1996, Friedman made her debut at Carnegie Hall in New York and went on to perform there, and in hundreds of other cities around the world, to sold-out audiences. Her musical version of Mi Shebeirach, the prayer for the healing, is used by hundreds of congregations across America.

In 2004, Ann Coppel produced a documentary film about Friedman entitled A Journey of Spirit. In 2007, she accepted an appointment to the faculty of Hebrew Union-College-Jewish Institute of Religion's School of Sacred Music in New York where she instructed both rabbinic and cantorial students.

Friedman published more than 19 albums of music using English and Hebrew lyrics and often the simple accompaniment of a guitar. She was admitted to an Orange County Hospital in January 2011, where she died on January 9th of pneumonia.


Sources: Debbie Friedman, Jerusalem Post, Wikipedia

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