Debbie Friedman, considered one of the most important figures in contemporary Jewish music, passed away at 5:49 am PST after being hospitalized for Pneumonia. The Orange County Register, reporting that she was in a medically induced coma, described her career as follows:

Friedman, who [was] in her late 50s, took the accessibility and contemporary elements of the ’60s folk movement and blended them with traditional melodies and prayers, has released more than 20 albums and performed throughout the world. The New York Times once wrote that Friedman “has created a powerful and euphoric body of work.” The Los Angeles Times called her “one of the foremost figures in contemporary Jewish music.”

Yaffa Weisman, a member of the faculty at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, where Friedman also teaches, stated that “Her music has transformed the world of Jewish prayer” She added that Friedman is the one composer whose songs are known by almost all Conservative or Reform Jews in the United States.

The Jerusalem Post Reported:

Regardless of denominational affiliation, Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, California said that Debbie Friedman “has an impact that transcends all the labels dividing Jewish life.” … “You can measure her reach by the virtually everyone uses her havdalah melody, often without knowing it,” Artson, who holds the Abner &Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair at the school’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, said. “You can measure her impact by the fact that there is a rich profession of contemporary Jewish music when none existed outside the cantorate before her. You can measure her gift by the way it feels natural now to learn and sing Torah in women, voices and in women’s words. And you can savor her gift in the bountiful harvest of her enormous collection of spirited and spiritual songs.”

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Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Debbie: You eons ahead of the rest! I will never forget how you came to Ari’s birthday party (how many years ago, Gosh!).. and sang for all the little kids.. You were and always will be breathtakingly spectacular! Sing on for all who can’t sing, or won’t sing.. most of all, sing on because that’s what you did best.. With love, friendship and simcha! ~Cyndi

  • Baruch Dayan HaEmet….

    In the darkness of Galut, and the utter alienation of us from
    ourselves as Jews, she sang songs that held and healed the heart and dwelt deeply in the soul, connecting us to our heritage and preparing us for our journeys in search of our lost selves…I admired her then as I do now, and I will remember her always lovingly and in gratitude for the gift of sweet song that helped weave my future into the future of our people.

  • ×™×”×™ זכרה ברוך. לעולם לא נשכח.

  • We have been singing her Havdalah melody for 6 years at Jewlicious and will again in her memory this year. Baruch Dayan HaEmes.

  • FUNERAL. Open to the public. Jan. 11 at 11 a.m. (1/11/11) at Temple Beth Sholom, 2625 N. Tustin Ave. Santa Ana, CA 92705. Phone: 714-628-4600

  • baruch dayan haemet

    but i would say that karlbach and the rabbis sons had much more of an impact on jewish music

  • Debbie Friedman it was an honor having you at our Temple Hesed where you performed for all of us .Your music will live on forever bringing so much joy to everyone .plus that day after you preformed and my son slipped off the rock outside you came out and was holding his hand to comforted him until them came for him i will always think of you being so kind hearted and very sweet person the world has lost a wonderful person