Today the Jewish community lost a beautiful neshama.
The Jewish community is buzzing with the news that beloved Jewish folk singer Debbie Friedman passed away this morning at 5:49am (PST). She had been in a coma for a few days, and going into the weekend countless Jewish tweets, messages, and emails were reminding people to pray for rafuah shleimah.
According to the Jewish Journal:
“Friedman had been in critical condition and was being held on a respirator in a medically-induced coma in an Orange County, California hospital.
A healing service was scheduled for Sunday evening at the Manhattan JCC and was set to be viewed online. There is no word if the service will become a memorial tribute or not.
According to JTA, ‘Friedman, who was in her late 50s, is widely credited with reinvigorating synagogue music by introducing a more folksy, sing-along style to American congregations. In 2007 she was appointed to the faculty of the Reform movement’s cantorial school in a sign that her style had gained mainstream acceptance.’”
Countless Jewish people across the world have been inspired by her music, warmth, and stories. She was a sort of female Shlomo Carlebach in regard to her impact on Jewish music, liturgy, and prayer. So many of her melodies have now become staples in many congregations – songs like “Mi Sheberach,” her melody for Havdalah, and “Lechi Lach.”
For two years I taught Hebrew school at a very large Reform synagogue. Many of her songs were staples for chapels and Summer camps because they were moving, spiritual, and singable. In 2005 I attended one of her concerts and I must say, it was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life (and, trust me … I have been to all kinds of concerts and worship services). I will never forget that evening, and the way it furthered my own Jewish spirituality and journey. Her music carries a very sweet place within my own neshama as it does within numerous other Jewish people around the world.
***UPDATE: You can watch the video of today’s funeral service for Debbie Friedman HERE.