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 â€œhas created a powerful and euphoric body of work.â€ The Los Angeles Times called her â€œone of the foremost figures in contemporary Jewish music.â€
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 â€œhas an impact that transcends all the labels dividing Jewish life.â€ … â€œYou can measure her reach by the virtually everyone uses her havdalah melody, often without knowing it,â€ Artson, who holds the Abner &Roslyn Goldstine Dean’s Chair at the school’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, said. â€œYou 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.â€