Commentary, Community

This Goy Will Miss Debbie Friedman

Gary Kopycinski on Debbie Friedman
By Gary Kopycinski

Never met Debbie Friedman. I never emailed her.

Loved her music, though.

And I will miss her.

I am not Jewish. I am very, very Catholic. But I’ve been to Temple often enough with my classes at Marian Catholic to have fallen in love with the song, and two of these I love are by Debbie Friedman.

My favorite is her Mi Shebeirach, video below. That’s Debbie singing. A close second is Oseh Shalom. That’s next.

Debbie died Sunday, January 9, of complications relating to pneumonia. I found out a short while ago when I received an email from She released more than 20 albums during her life. I know many will miss her voice.

For those of us who are not Jewish, Mi Shebeirach is a prayer for healing. Just prior to singing, the rabbis will often ask members of the congregation if there is anyone in need of healing, anyone in need of prayers. Members gathered may share names of those who are ill or in need of healing in any way. The words to the prayer follow the video.

Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M’kor hab’racha l’imoteinu
May the source of strength,
Who blessed the ones before us,
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing,
and let us say, Amen.

Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habrachah l’avoteinu

Bless those in need of healing with r’fuah sh’leimah,
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit,
And let us say, Amen

Lyrics for Oseh Shalom and a translation:

Oseh shalom bimromav
Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu
V’al kol V’al kol Yisrael
V’imru, amen.
Ya’aseh shalom, ya’aseh shalom

(May he who makes peace in high places,
make peace for us and for all Israel,
and let us say, amen.)

This from JTA.ORG:

(JTA) — Debbie Friedman, a popular singer and songwriter who is widely credited with reinvigorating synagogue music, has died.

Friedman died Sunday after being hospitalized in Southern California for several days with pneumonia. She was in her late 50s.

“Debbie influenced and enriched contemporary Jewish music in a profound way,” read a statement published Sunday on the website of the Union for Reform Judaism. “Her music crossed generational and denominational lines and carved a powerful legacy of authentic Jewish spirituality into our daily lives.”

Friedman brought a more folksy, sing-along style to American congregations. In 2007 she was appointed to the faculty of the Reform movement’s cantorial school in a sign that her style had gained mainstream acceptance.

She is best known for her composition “Mi Shebeirach,” a prayer for healing that is sung in many North American congregations.

Mi Shebeirach:

Oseh Shalom:

More at JTA.ORG