The death of Debbie Friedman, a popular and beloved Jewish singer and composer, touches all of us in the Hadassah community. We knew her well, and cherish her memory, her generosity and the music she brought to our lives. Here, from National Board member Barbara Spack, are heartfelt thoughts on her friend of more than three decades.
Deborah Lynn Friedman, that sweet singer of Israel and all the Jewish people, has passed away. We, the women of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, mourn her loss with her mother Freda, her two sisters Cheryl Friedman and Barbara Egli as well as the rest of the world.
Those who knew of Debbie-and who didn't?-remember her for her wonderful songs that lifted us up when we needed to be lifted, brought us to our feet to dance when we thought we were too tired, gave us cause to giggle when we needed that and even taught us the "alef-bet".
However, it was her need to educate Jewishly through music that brought Debbie to Hadassah. As we were creating a family education curriculum for 6 month to 3 year olds, she sat in our dining room at Hadassah House, brainstorming, and she even came up with the name of Al Galgalim, Training Wheels, for the program! She then generously donated a dozen songs that she wrote, mixed and gave to us as a present, to carry the program forward. In the past fifteen years there have been countless children who have fallen to sleep to her "Lailah Tov, Good Night", who have celebrated Tu B'Shevat by watching as "Trees are Blowing in the Wind", giggled at Purim over "The Purim Ball" and lit Shabbat candles every week as a family with Debbie's "Shabbat Shalom Blessings". We are forever in her debt for this gift, just one more in a long stream of gifts that we count for having had her in our lives.
Debbie once said, "The voices of women, their sense of empowerment, can be borne from song, which can form the core of political, spiritual, and economic transformation. The more our voices are heard in song, the more we become our lyrics, our prayers, and our convictions." She brought this concept to our national conventions, where she taught us to speak up for all that we believed, to raise our voices in song and in advocacy.
Debbie left us this legacy, as women and as men, to aid us on our journey through these difficult moments to the clear remembrance of her radiant, yet soulful, voice. She brought us fun. She challenged us. She demanded that we sing out loud, in pure harmony and with feeling.
We miss her dearly already, but her music lives on in us all.
T'hi zikhronah levrachah.