So many people have written tributes to Debbie Friedman since her January 9, 2010 death. She has been called composer, singer, teacher, friend, and modern-day Miriam. In the Jewish Chronicle the week Debbie died, Rabbi Amy Hertz called her “hero.” She has been described as one of the gedolei hador (giants of the generation). Her music (some light, some joyful, some soulful, some funny, most inspirational) has been called the soundtrack of the contemporary Jewish American experience. Debbie Friedman made prayer accessible; she may even have made God more accessible.
It is safe to say that Debbie’s Mi Shebeirach prayer for healing changed the way many of us understand healing. We can be healed, she taught us: we can be healed without being cured. It was a groundbreaking lesson, a message born of her own suffering and pain—and it was among her most precious gifts to us.
She also encouraged us to make our lives a blessing. In a 2000 interview with Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, Debbie said, “I think that each one of us is here for a purpose, and that is really the focus of my work—that each of us needs to acknowledge what blessings we carry within us, that it’s up to each one of us to give all that we have to the world. I’ve said this before, but we are not here for a free ride. We are here to do a job.”
In observance of the end of the Sheloshim period, the thirty days after Debbie’s death, we gather to remember the job she did, to recall the blessing she was and the blessings she offered, and to sing her songs.
Click here for information about the service on Friday, February 11 at Temple Sinai in Debbie's memory.