The singer and songwriter, Debbie Friedman, died early yesterday morning. More than anyone else she created the genre of Jewish music. It was she who in the early 1970's began matching traditional prayers to contemporary tunes. It was she who wrote the Mi Shebeirach prayer for healing that we sing each and every Shabbat. This new prayer and song has become so much a part of our liturgy that I dare not forget to recite it. The Mi Shebeirach has become so much a part of every Reform congregation's prayer service that it was included in the new siddur. What so many of us have come to accept and expect as "normal" Jewish prayer was quite revolutionary when Debbie Friedman first began writing and singing. Today there are many more Jewish songwriters. Today we sing many of our prayers to contemporary tunes. Today there are many singers and musicians who bring contemporary sounds and sensibilities to the Jewish prayer experience. It is true that Debbie Friedman died too young. It is also true that her legacy will continue well into the distant future. I am grateful that she led the way in transforming our prayers. As one of her more recent compositions, and Psalm 30, attests, "You turn my mourning into dancing..." Kein y'hi ratzon!
To learn more about her legacy watch the below video.
May her memory always serve as a blessing!