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 Debbie Friedman

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Debbie Friedman

  • Birth 8 Feb 1951 Utica, Oneida County, New York, USA
  • Death 9 Jan 2011 Mission Viejo, Orange County, California, USA
  • Burial Costa Mesa, Orange County, California, USA
  • Memorial ID 64032753

Singer, Songwriter. She was a leading exponent of Jewish folk and liturgical music for close to 40 years. Born Deborah Lynn Friedman, she was raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, from the time she was a small child and was self taught in music, using the folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary as her model. After high school she spent some time in an Isralei kibbutz then returned to America; one evening she found herself bored with the service in synagogue and began to think of ways to "liven things up". She composed a melody, set it to the V'ahavta from Deuteronomy, and presented it to groups of teenagers who liked it. In 1972 she released "Sing Unto God", the first of her 20 albums, and began performing her music in Conservative and Reform temples across the country. (Not surprisingly, Orthodox congregations were a bit resistant at first). Over the years she appeared in Jewish houses of worship and in numerous major recital venues including Carnegie Hall, her live concerts always including sing alongs and featuring her setting of "Mi Sheberach", the Jewish prayer for healing. Among her best-selling records were "Not by Might, Not by Power", "You Shall Be a Blessing", and "Renewal of Spirit". With time her music found acceptance across an increased spectrum of the Jewish faith, and even in Christian churches. Friedman wrote lyrics for Hallmark greeting cards and saw her music used in the "Barney in Concert" video when the purple dinosaur sings her "Aleph Bet Song", a children's tune used to teach the Hebrew alphabet. Despite having no formal music education, she was an honorary member of the American Conference of Cantors and from 2007 on held a professorship in the school of sacred music at New York's Hebrew Union College. Ill for the last 20 years of her life with multiple sclerosis, she moved from New York to California a few months prior to her death from pneumonia. Some sources give her date of birth as February 23, 1951.

Bio by: Bob Hufford





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 11 Jan 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 64032753
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Debbie Friedman (8 Feb 1951–9 Jan 2011), Find A Grave Memorial no. 64032753, citing Harbor Lawn-Mount Olive Memorial Park, Costa Mesa, Orange County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .