Debbie Friedman: 1952 – 2011

Whether you attended a Jewish day-school, Hebrew school, or went to a camp that had any inkling of Judaism to it, you knew Debbie Friedman. I’m not the most avid fan of folk music, and I quite dislike all Jewish music (excluding, of course, my very own high school band – The Matzah Balls – who played heavy metal versions of Jewish songs). But while I wasn’t necessarily into the music itself, the songs bring back memories for me. Memories of ridiculous summers at terrible JCC camps. Memories of getting kicked out of music class every single time in the 3rd grade. And when it comes to Jewish music, especially Jewish folk music, memories seem to be the point.

Jewish music isn’t written for the ultra-Orthodox or the extremely-religious. It’s written for those who have a tenuous connection to their religion. It’s written to remind people of some of the beauty that a religion has to offer. It’s written, in short, so that one day we will have these nostalgic feelings about some religious experience somewhere along the way, and there will be some pang of connection, a tiny memory of being part of something greater.

With the loss of Debbie Friedman, we’ve lost one of the great creators of Jewish folk music, and one of the great connectors of Jews everywhere.

Debbie Friedman – The Latke Song

One response to “Debbie Friedman: 1952 – 2011

  1. Oh Debbie.
    You had such a hand in raising me! Your voice is what I fell asleep to, what we sang in day camp, and how I learned a lot about Judaism. I can definitely attribute part of my love for religion to you. Music is so deeply religous and spiritual.
    I heard of Debbie’s passing today on NPR, on my drive home. I literally started to cry. They played Debbie’s version of Mishaberach.
    I remember concerts with Debbie where she would call all the kids on stage to do hand motions to the songs.
    Such a rich, deep, passionate and loving voice…she died so young, but G-d truly allowed her to use her talents. We will always remember her, and hear her echos throughout time. I hope she continues to bring others closer to spirituality and Judiasm.
    Thank you Debbie!
    And thank you Ariel for posting about her, a truly great creator of Jewish folk music.